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

MORE LIFE PAINTING – PASTEL AND ACRYLIC

My life (though, not the painting of it) has been a bit hectic of late, getting ready for 3 exhibitions, one solo and two joint. Tomorrow I am manning one of these as someone has dropped out – and it is only the second day. Anyway, it will allow me to paint all day at least. I’m not hopeful, in this present economic climate of sales or even visitors at our exhibitions. So there may be plenty of time to fill, though maybe I am being overly pessimistic as I did sell a painting this week from my website.

So without any of my landscapes or seascapes to show, here are some of the figurative sketches I’ve done recently at workshops. I have been trying to get along at least once a week to one of the sessions held in these parts.

I find I am labouring when I use acrylics – failing to get the effects I am after. The top two paintings are pastels and I am trying a direct approach with these, though I do want to introduce more colour, but not as much as I’ve done in the past. With the acrylics – these last two paintings – I still have issues with the tonal changes.

With the Eve, above, I realised late on, that her lower right arm was about to be too long and I spent the last fifteen minutes of the session, frantically reworking the legs and right arm and hand: she doesnt appear to be too happy about it.

Perhaps with this one of Arthur, above, in acrylics, I started to get a more painterly effect, but it still needs to be worked on to get further variation of hue that I am after.

But it is all practice, challenged by a ticking clock, it does make you speed up and make quicker decisions – occasionally the right one.

Other figurative work is 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

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

AFTERNOON AT FORMBY POINT – PASTEL PAINTING

This was the last of a series I recently painted of our local coastline. They have familiar themes to others I have painted. In this one I liked the shadows cast by the nearest clump of marram grass and the distant beach as it drifts away into infinity. It is an expansive area of sand where, in some areas, you barely see a soul as you walk beneath the towering dunes.

This set of paintings gives me some choice when I come to select paintings for the exhibitions which are fast approaching.

Other seaside and beach paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

INCOMING TIDE – MIXED MEDIA

Last month I published a set of sketches for a watercolour and pastel beach scene. I combined aspects of two of them to produce this on a half imperial sheet – 35x52cm. I will display it in a group exhibition we are staging in the Southport Wayfarers Arcade from the end of November until Christmas. So book yourself a flight to bag a bargain at our pop-up exhibition before someone else grabs them. Alternatively I can post it to you.

Other seaside and beach scenes can be purchased 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

AUTUMN ON THE ALT ESTUARY – PASTEL PAINTING

I’ve painted this view before but had forgotten about it until I was preparing this blog.

With the sale of a coastal painting this week as well as preparing for a couple of exhibitions and doing a lot of pastel work, especially for the demos and workshops I’m running this month and next, I was looking around for likely subjects.

So I had a go at this, which is the estuary of a small river, the Alt, as it empties out into the bigger Mersey Estuary at the north end of Liverpool. In the summer, the channel, close to the dunes, is lined with moored yachts, but as the year dwindles towards its end they are brought ashore and placed in a compound.

This view is from the dunes looking over the Mersey towards the Wirral peninsular that can be just picked out in the haze. If you look hard there is a tanker making a break for the Irish sea.

The dark headland behind the marram grasses is made up of building rubble from the bombed out Liverpool, which was dumped there after the second world war. As you walk along the beach you can find carved fascias to old buildings amongst the sea smoothed bricks and concrete. Someone once told me that they found half of a tombstone there.

Other Sefton beach scenes 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