Tomorrow I am back in the pop-up gallery to do my weekly stint. Last Friday, when I was there, I did this acrylic version of a watercolour I had previously painted on site. The gamekeepers cottages are over to the left, in case you were wondering. I remember sitting by the roadside, last year, absorbed in my painting when a lady from one of the nearby cottages came out and asked whether I wanted a cup of tea – very nice. Though, I always take some tea with me on these early morning painting trips. It helps me settle down and concentrate better.
I was hoping that the greater colour saturation of the acrylic would bring something to the party and I suppose it has, though the depiction of the cereal is a bit clunky and that was something I had hoped would have come out better with the acrylics.
Still, it productively passed the time. Now I have to find a suitable subject to paint tomorrow, particularly as it will be less busy than last Easter weekend.
I have had a version of this painting around for a while and while I have found the market for canal scenes has diminished over the years, sales do manage a slow trickle. I decide that the reason why my earlier version of this had remained unsold was the overcomplicated reflections in the foreground. So I set about this aspect and made some other minor modifications in readiness for our upcoming exhibition.
I do particularly like the reflected light that seems to come up from under the bridge. I remember sitting on the canal bank painting a plein air version of this in the late summer sun a few years ago. The memory makes me restless for some more early morning painting – it will soon be warm enough.
Here is the final part of our post Christmas walk that I have been describing recently. The muddy, last, stretch along the canal and back to the car. This is a scene I have painted before as the light on the moored boats sings against the surrounding shadows.
When a painting requires such tight detail I would naturally reach for the watercolour or acrylic. I havent the patience finding or making slivers with which to place small, precise marks. Here. I used some conte pencils for the really fine details, though I tried to keep this to a minimum and just hint at the shapes of the boats.
I love the branch which hangs over the canal.
I wasnt as pleased with the other pastel I did of the fields over the moss that we passed. Initially it was the patchwork of greens, interspersed with the winter trees that attracted me, but in the end I found the result a little disappointing. Perhaps I should have made more of the sky and pushed the fields into a tighter mass.
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.
Last week I managed to get out for a sunny early morning session in Lydiate, close to Maghull, a suburb of North Liverpool. From the roadside I spotted this wheat field with lovely tractor tracks disappearing into the distance towards some houses. I found a good spot beside the quiet lane and started my task. Later, a woman who lived in a nearby house came out to see what I was up to. She told me the houses were gamekeeper’s cottages, four in all. This one might make a nice pastel painting- perhaps one for the winter months.
The canal runs through Lydiate, and this bridge – Pilling Lane Bridge – is just around the corner from where I sat doing the previous painting. Perhaps a little too much green – it might be worth coming back in the autumn when the leaves start changing. Still, it was a pleasant hour painting in the morning sunshine.
Cycling back to the car I spotted the ruins of St Catherine’s Chapel set in a copse back from the road. It was built at the end of the 15th century for the Lord of the Manor. A pleasant place to paint in the dappled sunlight serenaded by birdsong. I find painting crumbling ruins difficult at the best of times, and beginning to tire on the third sketch of the day, my mettle was tested and similarly turned into a crumbling ruin. Anyway, it is an approximation of what was there. It might be worth exaggerating the colours of the stones if I were to have another go one winter’s evening.
Looking through an old sketchbook I saw a version of this done on a sunny morning a few years ago and thought it might be worth working up. I tried to repeat it as directly as I could without the overpainting and overworking I did originally as you can see in the sketch I posted in May of 2018.
A slightly less edgy landscape than my previous serving. I originally sat down and painted this scene, in watercolour, with my back to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, early last year. I was reminded of it when I walked past the view last weekend and noticed that the tractor track is still visible in the field about 18 months later – I dont know what was on its tyres. Maybe it was driven by Richard Long or Andy Goldsworthy…
Well, we have been suffering a few days of good weather around here, so I have been getting up early and getting down to the Leeds to Liverpool Canal to do some early morning painting. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, this is a project I am doing on views of the canal – so this is the fact-finding part,
In earlier days I took my bike and combined painting with some exercise, but for a variety of reasons I have taken the car and gone directly to a particular stretch of the canal.
As it has been at a more leisurely pace I have taken a flask of tea with me. At the time of getting up – around 5-30, by the time I get to a suitable site and sit on my stool, a cup of tea really helps me to focus. I am quite pleased with these sketches and the tea may have something to do with it.
I may work some of these sketches up into paintings – so you have been warned. I have also taken a number of photos as well, so I am accumulating the information,
Continuing with images from my cycle ride the other morning. This is again done in three colours UM blue, Cad red and yellow, but the red is subdued to give a tighter chromatic range. I love the counter changes of light and shadow.