In my last post I showed a painting taken from our post Christmas walk. Here is another one from earlier in that same walk. It shows the route of a long defunct railway track called the Cheshire Lines which served Manchester, Liverpool, Chester and this line ran out to Southport, where I live.
Now it’s a walking and cycling path which crosses the moss from Southport to Maghull, north Liverpool.
I thought it might be worth doing in pastel. The greens were vivid in the low winter sun and the passing rainclouds in the background heightened this effect – and, of course, there are some puddles.
Now I have the pastels out I have started a couple more from the same walk, so there will be a small series from the same day – I give you fair warning.
I like this area and have done quite a few plein air paintings and studio paintings from around this path. Here are some of the watercolours I have posted in the past of scenes from the Cheshire Lines:
After the Christmas indolence, a walk was proposed. Organising a walk in our family can require diplomatic skills far beyond my capabilities. My wife wanted to walk by the canal which meant we wouldnt get lost and me get angry at the lack of signage. She also reckoned that it wouldnt be too muddy. My daughter didnt want to go too far to get to the walk and I wanted to go somewhere to see some different scenery. I think my daughter’s partner would have preferred to stay put.
I selected a route which, I hoped, met all the specifications. After an early lunch, waiting for the rain to subside, we set off. There was a low winter light which gave great contrasts and shadows and suited me well.
We came up a low hill to a wooded area where there is a derelict Chapel, originally built in the 1500s. The farmland surrounding the site was waterlogged and had lovely glistening puddles made by tractor ruts. With the light illuminating the grass of our footpath and the puddle reflecting the post and trees I thought it might make a great subject to paint even though it is a bit on the dark side.
We completed the walk without getting lost, though the canal tow-path did prove to be the muddiest part of it.
Another painting for the upcoming exhibition and one worked up from a sketch made on site, along with photographs. This scene is from further down the same lane that I showed in my previous post, but it wasnt done on the same day. The day here was much brighter and showed off the emerging leaves in their spring colour. I loved the reflections and shadows in the ditch water, and the winter skeletons of the trees before they get clothed in dense summer greenery.
Also, there was a good place to sit off the lane. The road is only wide enough for one car and sitting painting on the verge risks you having to move all your gear when a tractor comes bouncing along, normally pulling an even wider trailer.
It maybe isnt the kind of thing for many people, but it was something I enjoyed doing.
Another painting worked up from my sketchbook and photos in readiness for an exhibition at my framer’s shop. I posted the sketch earlier in the year after doing it. This lane is so typical of the roads which crisscross the moss behind Southport where I live. Rich agricultural land is divided up between deep ditches. I’ve seen a few cars in them, due to driver inattention or intoxication. You dont get out without a crane – always assuming you survive.
The roads – one of which you see here – tend to sink over the years resulting in roller-coaster ride as you drive along them. As I worked on the original sketch a couple of fellows came along on their bikes, past the houses you see, and up towards me. They were also taking advantage of the first good day of spring we had this year. They paused to see what I was up to and I showed them what I was working on. Apparently they had spotted me earlier on a similar lane, as I was painting another view. Now they were now on their way home when our paths crossed again.
Another in the series for an upcoming exhibition. I’m not sure of the painting’s commercial potential, though I love the subject. Again it was worked up from my sketchbook and some photos and I took the opportunity to rotate the footbridge to reveal the opening at the far end. When I originally painted it, the view was more side on.
These splayed bridges are designed to prevent livestock moving out of the field , but give free passage to walkers. I like the light and shade on the footbridge. I used tinted gouache, dry brushed onto the foreground grasses to imitate seedheads.
I have an exhibition planned at my framers in December and so I have been going through my sketchbooks for scenes of local interest that I can show. Here is one I sketched back in the summer which I worked up into a painting. The colours were very muted given the mistiness that prevailed, and I have added more to the foreground to push the background back. I might darken the clouds slightly to bring out the sun breaking through the mirk. It certainly did that, as by the time I finished painting that morning, the sun was out and there wasnt a cloud in the sky.
You can be forgiven for thinking you’ve see this before. I put a sketch of this track on my blog a while ago. Recently, I have been going over sketchbooks looking for topics to show at my Christmas exhibition and this was one of the first that popped up.
It’s a track – I think called The Runnel – I used to cycle along, to and from work. Despite it having a cobbled surface it has been submerged in mud which is then churned up by the farm vehicles. So cycling down it after a wet spell, like you can see here, ends up with your bike getting covered in grit and mud. the only advantage is that it keeps you away from traffic.
As a subject though, it contains a favourite topic of mine – puddles. I might even try it out at the group exhibition I am in at present. I am minding the shop tomorrow, so I could see if there is a space for it there.
I think I mentioned that I have a couple of exhibitions coming up. So apart from painting, I have been assembling paintings in readiness. Gathering the paintings together, I felt I needed another local forest scene and a beach scene to give me a good spread of subjects. Here is one forest scene I did this week.
But despite the loose splattering and layers of masking fluid, I felt that the painting lacks the punch I was after. I feel it needs more colour even though I injected more colour than is in the reference. I was also hoping the large tonal range would galvanise it but, for me, it isnt enough.
Fortunately I have time. I just need to produce a list for next week, so at the very worse, I can put down a generic title and keep my nose to the easelstone.
I dont regard these problems as a waste of time. It is a learning opportunity – even if it can get half forgotten in the months ahead. It is also good practise – something you can never get enough of.
Being on holiday at the moment I dont have much to show, so here’s an old painting I havent posted before. I was on a painting holiday in Scotland years ago. It was in the fishing port of Crail. Crail is in the Kingdom of Fife, just south of St Andrews.
One evening, after a days painting, I took a walk along the coastal path from the old fishing port of Crail to Anstruther, another small fishing port. The low golden sun threw long shadows across the grassland and tinted everything in an orange glow.
Later I did this pastel painting of the walk and I eventually gave it to a friend. In fact I am shortly going to visit him at the end of a walking holiday in Portugal, planned for the end of September. He lives not far from Faro. Well. that is if the borders aren’t shut down again.
Those who read the text in my last blog may recall I had little hope regarding sales at our latest exhibition, which is now running. Well, the very day I put out the blog this painting sold. I must admit I was pleased with it when I put it out on the blog in October last year, and am still pleased with it. Certainly, enough to give it a second airing.
Here it was, by the chair, but no longer.
I had put it in a solo exhibition around Christmas, but no one seemed interested – despite other sales – and the painting followed me home. I thought that perhaps muddy puddles and broken roads were not what other people wanted, but they certainly interest me, and obviously, someone else.