LIGHTS OF THE FOREST – WATERCOLOUR PAINTING

A fellow painting blogger mentioned her drawer of shame for paintings that failed to meet expectations. I felt that the title was harsh but then thought she could mean: ‘shame, a few bits let it down – I’ll have another go later’ drawer . This latter title describes a pile of paintings that I have. They just need tweaking to get to the conclusion I would be more comfortable with.

A version of the painting above – of a summery Ainsdale woods, the same place I did a mini series of paintings recently – was on that pile. I liked the contrast of lights and shade in the first version, but too much of it was variations of green. So the other day I picked it up and had another go. This time I accentuated the colours: greens, blues and purples in the shadows and a real hit of red on the path. Just taking the scene and pushing it a little further.

There may be a little more to be done. I have, so far, resisted putting texture on the path as there is loads of texture and busyness everywhere else and I am wondering whether to further darken the shaded areas at the sides, but am wary about losing the gentle purples and blues. So this may be the finished version.

Other forest scenes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

PATH AMONGST THE BIRCHES – ACRYLIC PAINTING

You would be almost correct if you thought you’d seen this before. It is another version of a watercolour I posted earlier in the month. This time I put it on a 76×50 cm canvas and used acrylics. I pushed back the thicket on the right, compressing the trunks and focussed more on the shadows they created on the path – adding a few more for good measure. Hopefully I’ve created a bit more energy on this one and it more accurately reflects the feeling I had cycling through our local woods in Ainsdale on that recent sunny Saturday.

Other landscapes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

A SHADY COPSE IN AINSDALE WOODS – WATERCOLOUR PAINTING

Here is the third of the paintings from my recent afternoon’s cycle trip. This one is from the start: as you exit a small copse onto a long open path that runs alongside the woods – before entering the main body of the forest. Again, the glow of the birches is evident, tempered by a canopy still provided by, mainly, sycamores.

I painted this in a direct style, a different approach than I normally use in watercolour. It was more like one I use in acrylic painting, where I build up blocks of colour. In this case, with watercolour, I worked light to dark. After enough applications you get a wonderful muddle of woodland foliage and the contrast of the light and shade lifts it that bit further.

Hopefully, it encapsulates a sunny autumn day.

Other woodland scenes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

SUNLIT BIRCHES BY THE FOREST PATH – PASTEL PAINTING

I mentioned in my previous post about a cycleride in the afternoon sun, last Saturday. Here is another in the small series of paintings from that trip. This one’s a pastel. The low afternoon sun pierces through gaps in the forest, picking out skeletal birch trees, which hang there, like automatons on a ghost train ride, scaring no one.

A fellow blogger, N, from Ink,Yarn and Beer told me to look at the pastel work of Karen Margulis. In one utube video she used a wet brush to spread and mix the pastel across her support. When I’ve done this the paper cockles, making further work difficult. But recently I have been using gouache as a base for dark areas in my pastels and havent had any issues. So, for the forest background, I dragged down purples, siennas and browns with a wet brush to create a backdrop, using Karen’s approach. I also did it in the sky. With the amount of water kept to a minimum it seemed to work. When the sky and backforest was dry, I went in with the foreground trees, grasses and the leaf covered path.

It is a dark piece and I am a little undecided about it, particularly its commercial potential, but I’ll put it up and see how I feel about it in the coming days. I have another watercolour on the go from this trip and am thinking of making the previous painting of the birch copse with shadows, into a bigger acrylic piece.

Other landscapes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

AFTERNOON AMID THE BIRCHES – WATERCOLOUR PAINTING

We have been having some unseasonably warm weather of late and last Saturday the sun came out as well. I almost gathered the paints together to grasp the last opportunity, this year, to do some open air painting – almost ( I dont mind the cold – I just lack the temprement to wait for paint to dry) Besides, it was well into the afternoon, so, instead, I grabbed the camera and cycled off to the local woods at Ainsdale, which back onto the dunes and shoreline,

At this time of the year, with bright sunlight, the birches glow yellow and gold, almost like lightbulbs against the dark foliage of the firs behind. I then came across this copse of birches that pressed the footpath, before it opened out onto a clearing. The shadows cast by the trees, like fingers of darkness tugging at the remnants of the day.

I had to paint it and I thought I might try a small series of paintings from my ride that afternoon – so there may be more coming.

Other woodland scenes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

MOORINGS AT THE ROSEMARY LANE CANAL BRIDGE – WATERCOLOUR PAINTING

We recently had a lunch booked at a canal-side pub, but one of our friends was sick and had to cancel. As it was a bright day, we decided to have some lunch and then go for a walk. Due to a miscalculation on my part, the walk was a bit longer than intended and we arrived back to the car, at the pub car-park, as the sun was beginning to get low in the sky – reflecting off the boats collecting at their winter moorings. I thought that it might be worth painting

This bridge has changed over the years. It was a favourite location of the art group I ran and and was the subject of some plein air painting in the summer – allowing for a drink at the pub afterwards. You can see in an earlier painting of mine – which I posted a long time ago – that there was a magnificent willow tree which stood at one side – though I think the removal of the ivy has been an improvement.

Other canal paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

THISTLE PATCH – PASTEL PAINTING

I’ve been doing some pastels of late, but mainly seascapes. So, for a change, I thought I’d slip in a pastoral scene.

I saw these thistleheads whilst out walking in the grounds of Kenwood House, north London in September. I put out an acrylic painting a week or so ago, entitled Perfect Day. That painting showed a view of this hill from the other side of the lake. It indeed was a perfect day; the pleasure of the open air after negotiating three train rides which brought us from Liverpool to the capital.

In this pastel scene the parched ground acted as a foil for the clump of thistles and bank of trees. The light on the thistle seed heads made them almost glow. Then, just an arrangement of the thistle clump to run counter to the slope of the ground.

I hope it brings you calm.

Other landscapes and floral paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

AT THE TOP OF CLIEVES’ HILLS – WATERCOLOUR PAINTING

I have been meaning to have a go at this for a while. I wasnt sure how effective it would be. I took some reference photographs as I was sitting on the roadside painting the image (below) which I posted in an earlier blog : the view over the hills to St Michael’s Church at Aughton, near Ormskirk – a favourite of mine.

I put a couple of walkers in, but it is a precarious place to walk as cars come wizzing along. I found them a bit too close for comfort as I sat painting by the roadside. Still, I lived to paint another day.

Other landscapes are available for purchase on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

PERFECT DAY – ACRYLIC PAINTING

A couple of months ago we visited friends in London. On our arrival the weather was fine and their dog needed exercise so we went off to Kenwood house – which backs onto Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill – and walked through the grounds. Our route passed a series of lakes. One was the home of the Kenwood Ladies swimming club. Further down the hill was a lake for the men. Apparently they need to be kept apart – maybe they once had similar problems that I get with frogspawn filling my pond. Anyway…

This is another lake, with loungers in the evening’s heat. I particularly like the couple lying in the grass. I recalled that Lou Reed song: memorable for me as the record came out just as I started university. It was a juke box constant whilst I got my feet under the table in the union bar – in those heady, sunny, autumn days – days before the reality hit the fan.

I did a quick painting from a number of my photos, just to scope it out. I left out the guitarist who set up his amp nearby and regaled the whole lake with some practice pieces before the police arrived and curtailed his session; not even giving him time to pass the hat around – showbiz, eh?

Other landscapes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

EARLY START – WATERCOLOUR PAINTING

I’m busy preparing workshops and planning demos as well as reworking a couple of acrylics so here is another blast from the past, circa 2010. I never sold this and dont know where it is now, though I was pleased with it at the time.

It is a view of a small natural harbour at Rotheneuf, just north of St Malo in Brittany, France. I used to go down there and do some painting in the morning, whilst on holiday. It was a glorious little place. After my painting session I would go to the boulangerie, get a couple of bagettes and return for breakfast – yep, life in the fast lane.

The sailors used to come down to the harbour and prepare their boats in readiness for the incoming tide and when their boat was afloat off they went. I did sell one painting of the harbour where the yachts were bobbing on a fuller tide, but there is a pathos to this one, augmented by the muted colours. I recall it being one of my large watercolours. It might be worth redoing as a smaller, quarter imperial version.

Other seaside paintings are available on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com