A friend was trying to contact me and went to my website to get my phone number and saw an image of the beach where she walks regularly. I had sold the one she spotted and she asked me to do another for her and this is the version I painted. Perhaps long time viewers recognise the view as I posted the first one a while ago.
I went down to the beach last week to see what the scene looks like now, but they have put a bigger fence on the left, so with her agreement I left it out. I like the spikey, old broken-down fence, particularly where it stands out against the sand below.
Anyway, whilst I was on the beach I took a few photos, so brace yourself for a set of beach scenes. I need some views for upcoming exhibitions that start to blossom prior Christmas and the beach at Formby is always popular.
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.
The life session at the weekend brought back the memories of poor lighting and stiff poses though I was glad of the practise.
I should actively seek other venues, but working in confined spaces for long periods with lots of people doesnt fill me with a great deal of joy at present. Our model was Eve who last time I saw her did a more interesting set of poses. The quick sketch of one of them, below, I converted into a pastel study during lockdown, though I think the pastel lost a bit of vitality in translation. Maybe one to try again as it has some interesting angles.
The image of this face reminded me of something you see carved on stone memorials with the sadness of a pieta. I thought that the addition of outstretched arms might convey the wings of this descending spirit and I set it against the bright colour of stained glass to push the spirituality further, though the resulting cruciform seemed enough.
Besides, life sessions are starting around here soon and I thought I needed practice and the different angle of the head appealed. I was going to do so much during this last year on figurative approaches but other things got in the way. Maybe with the pastels out I will have a flick through old sketch books and see if anything appeals.
Just for figurative practice I took some newspaper images and played around with my pastels, imagining that I was back in the life room and trying to work at pace – as if I had the time limit of a session. I liked the way this figure gripped their cane, with his bottom hand facing upwards, presumably, around the bulb of the cane.
On this, the melancholic gaze of the subject looking down drew my attention. This pose is accentuated by the top of the eyelid and the underside of the eye socket being illuminated from an elevated light from their left. The right side of her face is completely black in the photo, but I hinted at her eye and the edge of her nose and also put a bit more colour in, to lift the mood perhaps.
I was playing with my pastels, looking at options for an abstract, and turned this pair into something else. Though all the time fighting to keep to the spirit of abstract and not being too descriptive with a view to painting a bigger piece. With the first one I did a similar painting in acrylics some time ago and was pleased with it. The second one, I feel, could be developed by deconstructing it a little and playing the large areas of grey off with the smaller and more intense patches of colour.
I might do a few more, as it happily occupied an hour without any pressure of a result.
Another figurative piece, this time Michael Palin, once part of the Monty Python Team. In the UK he seems to be a permanent fixture of the TV schedules as, after Python, he started making travel documentaries which are being constantly repeated. The number of times I’ve switched on to see him still trying to find Timbuktu – surely it cant be that hard or perhaps the Tuarags have cottoned on to the expenses to be made by leading a TV crew in ever decreasing circles.
Casting around for more figurative practice pieces, I was taken by the good lighting and the way Palin used his hands whilst describing old journeys. So I took some shots of him reminiscing, for once grateful for the repackaging of archive footage – a trick that our programme makers are prone to do to eke out some cheap TV.
As I worked I was taken by the length of his face in relation to its width. It unnerved me that much I had to recheck the measurements.
Last weekend in the UK we had a mini TV Bowie Fest , it being five years since his death and, presumably, a nod to his Ziggy classic. I sat on the sofa with a sketch book idly doodling during one of the programmes. This wasnt one of the doodlings, I`m not that fast. After the lead on my pencil had worn down I got the camera out and, later, worked a few shots up in pastel just to do a portrait – I`m not doing much figurative/portraits these days and I thought that it was a good opportunity.
Five years, that`s all he got – well there was some remission for good behaviour.
Looking over recent output I realised I hadnt done a pastel in a while, so here is another view of the River Wear, in Durham. This one was glimpsed as I was hurrying past to do some painting in fields alongside the river, downstream. I suppose I could have done this scene, but it would have meant sitting in the road – and whenever I do that a lorry or tractor comes along, so I took a few photos and proceeded onwards.
I was struck by the light on the grasses and foliage which made them stand out against the shadows and reflections of the trees. I did some thumbnails of this and decided on a portrait format, but now its done perhaps a landscape format would be better.
In this painting I blocked in the darks with acrylics before starting out on the pastels. It does save a lot of time, and pastel, getting variegated darks in with paint and gives a great base to build up texture.
With the morning light on the dunes the marram grass glows and glistens and cajoled me into working up this view of the beach at Birkdale where I live. I had forgotten I had done a very similar piece before in April and it was only as I was storing this painting that I saw the earlier work. I had forgotten it, probably as I wasnt too taken with the regularly repeating rows of grass I had managed to get on that one. So I got the old painting out again and gave it a dose of reworking and here it is:
On the top painting I blocked in the dark areas with dark acrylic paint before applying the pastels and that saved a lot of time and layers of pastel in achieving the shadows and darker passages, In the lower painting darks were built up with pastel alone.