Yesterday I did a watercolour demonstration on a canal scene for a painting group. I wanted to have a few canal scenes to take along to the demo and I painted this the other day to fill out the display. It’s a subject I’ve tackled before with the spring leaves just coming out on the trees in front of the old windmill in Parbold – it houses the gallery of a local artist, James Bartholomew, who’s won awards for seascapes, but now seems to do a lot of animals.
At the time I did a painting on the spot, but when I finished, I walked along the moored narrowboats and saw these guys in conversation on a boat further down the line. When I came to do a painting in the studio they got promoted to the front of the queue.
I’m still not sure about this, as the opening leaves against the dark background is difficult to get in watercolour, but I think I’ve progressed it from the last time I painted it.
This is another version of a painting I did and posted in January. January’s painting was part of a group of eight that I had entered for an exhibition that is about to start in two weeks time. Last Friday a lady from Scotland contacted me, wanting to buy this painting and four others. Having already submitted my selection for the catalogue, I had to get my skates on and paint another version. Unfortunately it was one of my bigger ones, on a half imperial sheet. This time I did it in portrait format. The first one, the one the lady has purchased, which I did in January, is in landscape format.
So today I will take down my eight paintings to the exhibition venue in readiness for them to hang and yesterday I sent off the five paintings to the lady in Scotland. Fortunately I was able to talk her out of receiving the paintings framed. I always dread sending framed and glazed paintings by post. Four of these were watercolours and sending four glazed paintings was just a recipe for disaster.
I decided to work up one of the plein air sketches I recently showed on the blog. I had a tussle with the spring leaves on the trees against the dark buildings. I initially splattered masking fluid in the area and then proceeded to paint mixes of burnt sienna, um blue, alizarin and a few others into the area to imitate buildings and dark background foliage. When I rubbed off the masking fluid and applied foliage colours it looked laboured, despite softening edges. So off it all came and I repeated the dark building colours, but then added white gouache mixed with lemon yellow and some blues. I was pleased with the soft effects it gave. I am reluctant to use gouache as I consider it a bit of a cheat, but I dont think I could have got these glinting leaves better any other way.
May has been uncharacteristically cold around here – not the kind of weather to dry your watercolours in when painting outside. Being of an impatient nature, waiting for paint to dry is just too hard for me. But yesterday the weather changed, with southern winds and bright sunshine. I got up shortly after 5am and headed towards the canal. OK, this first one isnt of the canal, but the canal was close by. The silhouetted shapes caught my eye and I thought that it would be a good one to start with.
Later I did settle down by the canal at a place called Parbold and painted the canal boats moored by the village.
It was great to get out in the morning. Hopefully there will be a few more mornings to come. Apart from these sketches I also took some photos so I have plenty of material for further paintings.
I suppose this could be worked on a little more, but I took a photo of it to see how it was looking and decided to post it. Apposite as they are opening up shops and other non essential outlets tomorrow in our neck of the woods. However, cafes and pubs can only serve customers outside – so those inside on this painting are mere reflections., and with our weather, those on the outside will soon be wrapping their coats around them – but for now it’s sunny – it could be France – but it’s Parbold.
Having recently sold a couple of canal scenes I thought that I would paint a view of the Leeds to Liverpool Canal at Parbold. Another reason was to rattle the Troll’s cage – it gets agitated when it sees a canal – though never reading its rants, it might have changed for all I know or care.
I liked the boat tucked into the sunny mooring though I changed it to a narrowboat and the figures I borrowed from another photo. I saw some guys in a narrowboat when I was painting along the canal in the summer. They didnt look your usual barge folk. When I packed up to leave I walked past them and heard them speak in a foreign language. Later, it occurred to me that perhaps they were using narrowboats to house foreign workers – or perhaps illegal immigrants, who knows. There are quite a few craft well past their prime moored along the canal so that might be an easy way to raise some income. Though once you`ve handed the keys over your asset might disappear off into the sunset, never to be seen again.
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 looked at my watercolour sketchbook the other day and saw that I hadnt done any outdoor painting in July. The weather hasnt been very good – well not for outdoor painting, though my lawn has rejoiced in the warm damp weather.
So with a mini heatwave forecast and two days to go, I set off up Parbold Hill. I had noticed some footpaths off the road that go up the hill, but have never explored them. So on Thursday up I trudged with my painting gear. The first painting is on the way up.
Dodging the many dogs that yapped and barked around my feet I got to the top and walked about the exposed plateau, taking a winding footpath through a wheat field. I liked the trees in their lush summer finery and sat on the path looking out over the Lancashire plain. It was as I was working on this second sketch that I realised the tall streak in the distance could only be Blackpool Tower.
As I started back I saw a row of cottages on the high ground above me. They looked like Cotswold cottages. I also liked the gaps in the trees that surrounded them, so I decided to get the paints out again and make the most of my visit.
I decided to work up a couple of my sketches into paintings. I used three colours again for this one of the Leeds Liverpool canal at Haskayne. I feel I could make it more dramatic and may well have another go at this one.
I do like the long format and took a sketch I published earlier and narrowed it out and gave the man a dog. He was actually walking along bare chested – but I gave him a red shirt ( I cant stand nudity at such an early hour). Again it was done with three primary colours and again it was of the Leeds Liverpool Canal between Burscough and Parbold.
I sat and painted here the other week, though this view is an amalgam of a number of photos. There is a hill behind this village and I was drawn to the smokey early morning light against the fresh early summer greens.