Nothing for a month and then two commissions turn up in quick succession. So I’m a bit busy at present. This is the first one which I am handing over today. It is of a local church close to where the customer lives. He had seen something like this view as he travelled home and asked me to look at it. I’ve painted this church a few times, but not from this angle and distance.
Last week I went over to reacquaint myself with the view. Sitting down the bank by the roadside, with passing cars whizzing past my head, I produced this watercolour.
This is a fairly faithful version of the view. The trouble is the hedge from the road runs right across the base of the church and there were no decent trees or hedges to break the vertical plane. The customer specifically didnt want a watercolour, so I then produced two acrylic sketches which introduced some hedges and created zig-zags to inject energy. The customer had seen another painting of mine and wanted the stylised wheatfield in the foreground, which I had used.
I did one version in a landscape format.
And another in portrait format. The customer originally wanted it in landscape, but I managed to persuade him into a portrait format, which allowed for a greater depth of field and allowed me to increase the size of the church without losing the context.
I must admit that I am pleased with the final piece, as is the customer, and the series of sketches helped in getting to this resolution.
It has been a busy weekend, a life session and the weather was good enough to get out painting. With the plein air painting, I had decided on the canal, but despite it being bright where I live by the sea, there was thick fog at the canal. So, I headed for the hills, but even up here the fog was clinging on. I was deciding to head back to the coast when I spotted this view and decided to stay on the hill and persevere. I loved the way the layers of background were being revealed as I painted. Maybe one to work up as a larger piece.
As you can see the mist cleared as I worked and was pretty much gone on this second piece. This is an old favourite subject – Aughton church – seen from a different angle as I explored a new path, down between some farmhouses.
Just turning on my stool from the last sketch I saw this intriguing view of a farmhouse obscured by foliage and barley. I was taken by the tonal interchange.
So despite the the shaky start chasing around, avoiding the fog, I got some pleasing sketches. I’ll show the life painting on my next post – bet you cant wait. Anyway, the fine weather’s set for a few days so I might get out some more.
I took the opportunity to play around with colour on this painting of a country lane close to Little Crosby. Blocks of discrete colour arranged according to tone. In the shadows it allowed some quite diverse and strange selections which added punch and when completed, surprisingly, looked quite natural.
I was also pleased with the feeling of light I achieved which reflected the the bright summer’s evening with the wheat ripening in the field beyond.
The process is quite time consuming. Normally I can cover big areas with quick brushstokes – but not on this one. The methodology slowed me down and made me consider the placement of colour more analytically.
I added the dogwalker at the end as an afterthought, subsuming them into the landscape as I had been that day, painting in the evening light.
This was an image I was playing with sometime ago from a distant trip to the English Lake District. At present, my time is taken up with commissions.
Before Christmas I had a small exhibition at my framers and I sold three paintings prior to the holiday. Since Christmas the paintings have been locked in his shop window. Latterly, non essential shops, like picture framers, were allowed to open again and a couple more paintings sold before we ended the exhibition on Monday. However, from the exhibition I have acquired three commissions and so I am working my way through those. The first one was of someone’s house and cat which I thought inappropriate to show, but the other two might make the blog – when I complete them. For me, commissions take longer than a normal painting because you need to be sure of details personal to the recipient and I also allow the recipient to be part of the planning which doesnt speed things up.
So for now, here is a view over Lake Windermere, before the next shower of rain comes in to dampen the walker. Hopefully we will be getting back there soon.
This is the third painting from a recent local walk. The two others I posted were watercolours, but I decided to do this in a stylised way with acrylics. I was taken by the illumination of the ivy on the tree trunks and thought that the potency of the saturation of the acrylic paint would better show this off and the bright reflections off the leaves had the feeling of a mosaic. The ivy clad trunks were in conflict with the bare winter branches which added more incongruity. So here it is – on our way back to the car.
The other two were the Boatyard at Banks and Afternoon Stroll. So in the end it proved a fruitful afternoon`s stroll.
We have been having some unseasonal weather of late in the UK with high pressure bringing plenty of sun and also sweeping up southerly air to warm us all. So on Sunday we went for a walk along the river in the bright warm sunshine. Returning to the car I noticed the hazy blueness of the trees and decided to set this off against oranges and yellows of the fields – exaggerating the colours and putting a toe into the surreal. It reminded me of a recent sketch I blogged of a puddle filled lane.
With great contrast coming from the strong, low sun other possibilities for paintings also offered themselves – so there may be more on the way.
I posted a version of this painting in early January. At the time someone commented on the bottom portion of the painting; that it needed reducing. I had to agree with this useful suggestion and decide to extend and expand the narrative of the passing places down the canvas.
In the end I reworked two thirds of it, making it look like a collection of snapshots along this single track lane close to where I live – a record of a journey perhaps. The passing places, emblematic of how we have to compromise and defer on our journey through life – well, most of us anyway.
I certainly like the idea behind this painting and how the greys characterise the place and the vibrancy generated by this colour against the oranges and yellows in the sky and fields.
As practise for future plein air work I did this quickly on the back of an old painting, so I may not have got the proportions of the hill correct. I had an old photo and pretended that I was sat in a field getting it down with the minimum of washes. I also took the opportunity to jazz up the light at the same time. I was pleased with the result and I think the sky helps; along with ignoring a lot of the detail in the landscape. Its something I need to do more out in the field, putting in just enough detail to capture attention, but not getting bogged down.
Last summer I climbed Parbold Hill which is close to the M6, south of Preston. It looks out west over the Lancashire plain towards the Irish sea, amongst other places. This was the view I saw as I made my way back to my car. Earlier I had sat and painted a number of sketches which I posted at the time.
Here is the first one of the day, on the way up the hill.
The trees, in a line in the mid ground, on the top painting, I think are hawthorn trees, though I have never gone to investigate. This line of trees in the centre of the field have always interested me. In 2015 I was painting on the hill in the evening and took some images of the trees and did a pastel from it. Same trees, different angle – again I posted this one at the time. I loved the shadows cast by the trees from the setting sun and so did someone else as the painting was purchased soon after.
I have struggled with this painting and have decided to stop and have a rest. Publishing it will allow me to create some distance and ponder. I need the space: of late I have found my painting getting slower and slower and decisions taking longer and longer to make.
This painting comes from an old photo of a country lane near to where I live. I love the incongruous angles of the posts. The photo is below along with marks and water stains made by me.
I wanted to break the image up and decided to do this in a landscape format, like the photo. I did some thumbnail sketches.
And off I popped on a 75x50cm canvas. Before too long doubts crept in and out crept the gesso. Well the gesso came out after I had completed a new acrylic sketch over an old painting, which retained a lot of its original colours.
I thought that this format might be better so then the gesso did come out and I completed the painting at the top of the page. I thought that the notion of the painting being in three parts, with each part slipping past the other, echoed cars on this track having to negotiate past one another. I was reminded of that piece of performance art – Imponderabilia” Marina Abramovic where visitors had to squeeze between the naked artists stood at the only entrance to the exhibition. I apologise that this piece isnt as unnerving or erotic – but then that’s what you get on a Monday morning.