I did a version of this in pastels a while ago. I regularly go through my painting portfolios in order to cull them and spotted the first version of this and thought I could improve it in watercolour. So off I went. In the end I think it came out a tie. I love the rich energetic foreground foliage illuminated by the low sunshine against the calm river below, pausing before it goes over the weir.
Perhaps it is the trees and their branches on the right which unsettle me. The actual branches did stretch out and disappeared into the sun, but in the painting they seem ungainly and clutter the place. In contrast the group of trees on the left provide a good coda and, as such, maybe I should echo them on the right and let the eye wander down the bank of trees that line the river.
This is a view of the River Alt as it drifts through the fields of the Lancashire plain. I love this idyllic view which I see as I cycle across the foot bridge over the river. Though directly behind me is a railway bridge and beyond, a newly constructed housing estate. In front, around the bend, the river enters an army camp where it is used in noisy military exercises. Later, it emerges on the other side of the camp and idly sidles into the mouth of the Mersey as the mighty river breaks into the Irish sea spitting out ferries, liners and cargo ships in front of ranks of wind turbines. Here though, in this spot, you forget your surroundings and there is a calm moment of what if and possibility.
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.
Last week I was in Durham and was able to get outside painting on a couple of warm and sunny days. However, the painting above was done at home. I had spotted the subject whilst sketching the dead tree beside the river, below – in fact this view above was behind me as I sketched, but getting the filigree foliage against a smoky forest backdrop needed a bit of thinking through, so I declined the challenge and painted this instead.
In hindsight I should have given it a go. Still, it was good to have an unexpected chance to get outside. The day before I sat and sketched the city skyline into the light.
This was again done on the banks of the River Wear with a curious bull snorting near my back from the field behind me. Fortunately the seemingly flimsy barbed wire fence did the trick and I survived to paint another day as this blog and my final sketch: looking up the hill to the other side of the river – testifies.
Despite obviously skipping their medication they are almost putting a sentence together, though the punctuation needs more work – perhaps when kindergarten resumes it will be a subject that will be covered.
As for the non-art: this is my Grande Jatte painting but without the monkeys. I loved the way the figures were lolling around by the side of the river, obviously taken by some action upstream. I added a fourth figure and have been fiddling around with the painting for a while and will probably continue to do so.
I was going to show something else I had done in pastels, but have been struggling with, probably because I am working too small. Anyway, here it is as I should show the problems as well as the other stuff.
Because of copyright I had to make alterations to the image and the painting hit the buffers. Maybe one to reprise in the future.
Whilst visiting my daughter we were walking along the river Chelmer – near Chelmsford in Essex – on a bright autumn day. I saw a swan bathed in sunlight and was hoping for it to open its wings as it preened itself. Unfortunately it was disturbed by a couple of fishermen, so for this painting I had to make something up, but I managed to capture the lighting effects against the darkness of the background which had first caught my eye.
The second day of navigating the upper reaches of the Mekong. I did these first two in the misty morning.
The afternoon sketches were much brighter when I looked at them – It seemed I was affected by the intense light.
We arrived at Luang Prabang which was once the capital of Laos. Today it is a laid back town on the confluence of two rivers mixing eastern and French styles. A welcome break after some of the frenetic cities we have visited.
Another Nita Engle inspired painting. It was off a scene I saw on the television. I was taken by the brooding of the forest. Still finding that the painting isn’t ‘painting itself’ as the author claims, but you do get some interesting happenstance. I’ll keep plodding on.