A friend asked me to do a commission for their newly decorated room. It was a memory from one of their holidays. The photos were into the sun with high contrast and little colour. I must admit to liking the high contrasts, but felt it needed some colour, so I introduced purples and blues into the rocks and added some foreground foliage with complementary ochres to break up the mass of the cliff-face.
An added difficulty for me was the size, smaller than I’m used to, and this hampered me somewhat. Anyway, they are happy with it and I’m taking them to my framers to get the right frame and mount.
I had been to Yosemite myself, but didnt recognise the falls. Then, going over my old photos from 1983 there it was, I just didnt manage to get such a good vantage point.
I am in the middle of a few incomplete projects at the moment, so here is another acrylic painting. It is a return to an old subject, with an old painting – the view from Clieves’ Hills. I did it in 2012, before I started blogging. It looks from the low hill across a summery view of Halsall and the Moss, towards the coast and Southport where I live.
I like the richness of colour in the foreground that helps create the aerial perspective which is driven further with the smokey blue background. Somebody else obviously liked this and purchased it.
I still like this area for sources of subjects and hopefully will be heading out there again when the weather gets warmer.
Other landscapes – and paintings from Clieves’ Hills – are still available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com
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.
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.
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.
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.