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

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

SUNLIT BIRCHES BY THE FOREST PATH – PASTEL PAINTING

I mentioned in my previous post about a cycleride in the afternoon sun, last Saturday. Here is another in the small series of paintings from that trip. This one’s a pastel. The low afternoon sun pierces through gaps in the forest, picking out skeletal birch trees, which hang there, like automatons on a ghost train ride, scaring no one.

A fellow blogger, N, from Ink,Yarn and Beer told me to look at the pastel work of Karen Margulis. In one utube video she used a wet brush to spread and mix the pastel across her support. When I’ve done this the paper cockles, making further work difficult. But recently I have been using gouache as a base for dark areas in my pastels and havent had any issues. So, for the forest background, I dragged down purples, siennas and browns with a wet brush to create a backdrop, using Karen’s approach. I also did it in the sky. With the amount of water kept to a minimum it seemed to work. When the sky and backforest was dry, I went in with the foreground trees, grasses and the leaf covered path.

It is a dark piece and I am a little undecided about it, particularly its commercial potential, but I’ll put it up and see how I feel about it in the coming days. I have another watercolour on the go from this trip and am thinking of making the previous painting of the birch copse with shadows, into a bigger acrylic piece.

Other landscapes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

SUMMER’S DAY, LORD STREET – WATERCOLOUR PAINTING

Regulars may be tired of this subject, but it shows the heart of my town, Southport, and the subject is still popular at exhibitions. For me, I like the challenge of the architecture and the figures. On this one I battled with the shop windows, as on my main source photo the windows were obscured by a figure and on the other shots, with the focus on the street, they were too dark to be meaningful. I was pleased with the outcome. Abstract marks, some on damp paper, others on dry gave the reflective qualities I was after and made a good contrast to the brightness of the street. They also feel right.

I also wanted a view without much of the traffic. For me it is a busy thoroughfare and cars are part of that, but a lady who bought a painting of the street earlier in the year, made the comment, that there was too much focus on the traffic on paintings I showed her. This comment made me think that for many, the focus is really on the buildings, pavement bustle and the shops under the arcade. So, here is my attempt at redressing the balance. Hope you like it.

Other Lord Street paintings and townscape paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

A LONG JOURNEY – WATERCOLOUR PAINTING

On Saturday I received an anonymous wordpress comment on my email. I assumed it was from Troll and deleted it. Then it struck me that it had arrived in the middle of the day and Troll unleashes it’s invective at night, probably fuelled by alcohol. I decided to chance a look at the comment.

It was from a lady who had seen a copy of this painting, of one of our local parks. Posted in 2016. She asked if it was available for sale. The image she had seen was the one below which was half imperial. Since then I had cut it down to quarter imperial – the one you see above.

But the story begins much earlier. After blogging the painting, I exhibited it at my local framers. Someone quickly decided to buy it, but wanted it in another frame. Glyn, my framer, obliged, without taking a deposit. However, when I packed up the exhibition some six weeks later they hadnt returned.

In the meantime, an acquaintance, after visiting my exhibition, gushed that she would have bought the painting of Hesketh Park if it hadn’t been sold. So I contacted her and told her that the painting was now available. It became quickly apparent that what she had told me contained as much bullshit as the promise the first ‘buyer’ had given to my framer.

So the painting came back home. I told Glyn to contact me if the first punter returned, but they never did.

I then put it into other exhibitions, cut down, in an attempt to sharpen it up. To no avail. I even removed it from my website. So when I received this enquiry I had a bit of a frantic search trying to locate it. Fortunately I still had it, but at first I didnt realise the painting the lady was looking at was the old one.

Anyway, all’s well. The lady should receive the painting today. It is a present for her son, to remind him of the days when they visited the park.

Sometimes it pays not to throw things away.

Other local paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

RUSH HOUR, BIRKDALE – WATERCOLOUR PAINTING

Here is a view of the local train station. A road crosses the track just by the station, so when the Liverpool bound train stops, as you see here, the barriers open whilst the train loads up, before it proceeds away from the crossing and the station – so what you see here is the back of the train.

Crossing the road the other day whilst the train was at he station I was struck by the contrasts. The pattern of light and shade, the warm and cool colours and the hard industrial shapes of the train and canopies against the soft, lush sunlit foliage. Because of that you have a painting.

A painting without much commercial value, but nonetheless I like the effects and the challenges it posed for me, particularly with the tracks etc.

Other scenes of Birkdale and townscapes are available on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

EVENING ON BIRKDALE DUNES – PASTEL PAINTING

You may recall in the post before last the gloomy vista of rain clouds about to come over Birkdale beach – and I said it was part of a series, so here is the next one, a contrasting evening on the beach, with the sun hanging low and the light shimmering off the wet sands in the distance. I did this type of evening view in watercolour and it sold a year or two back, so I thought that I would try a version in pastels, placing tonal washes down in gouache first and then working over them in pastel as I had in my earlier pastel.

Mystery encroaches at this hour. The low light casts shadows and darkens ravines between marram covered dunes. Tracks of past beachgoers get highlighted by a glow on the raised edges that is then underscored by the shadow of the depression. Wisps of grass, catch the low sun and seem to glow against shadowed inclines. Soon the mystery will be complete.

Other beach scenes are available on my website for sale: grahammcquadefineart.com

A STORM BREAKS OVER BIRKDALE BEACH – PASTEL PAINTING

I am working on a small series of local beach scenes in pastel. It gives me an opportunity to try out the use of gouache to quickly block in masses of light and shade. Darker passages can take a lot of pastel to build up and painting in a mixture of colours that can be added to with pastel seems to give a fresher result. I have done it with acrylic before, but I felt gouache will retain a better tooth to the paper.

On the beach, the marram grass covered dunes give way to lonely wet sands stretching way out to the breaking waves, almost imperceptible, in the distance. Above, dark clouds gather across the Irish sea in readiness to sweep in eastwards, lashing the country with the moisture picked up when crossing the Atlantic.

It is a good place to walk, in waterproof boots, on a windswept days past wading birds, to view what flotsam the preceding tide has deposited on the wet sand. Broken branches, like reaching limbs, festooned with flags of algae and black jewels of coal scoured from the Welsh coast dot the sand like pebbles.

Other seascapes and beach scenes are available on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

SPRING MORNING, BIRKDALE VILLAGE – WATERCOLOUR PAINTING

Well, it looks like I got my paintings ( the ones I posted on this blog a week or so ago) into the juried show at the town art gallery – leastways, they havent told me to come and pick them up, which is always a good sign.

So, with that under my belt, I can turn to next week when we set up another exhibition on the other side of Lord Street to the art Gallery, in an unused unit inside a beautiful Victorian shopping arcade. This will be for six weeks and I need to ready a few more paintings for that one. Even though I probably have more than enough, I thought I might do a quick painting of my local shops, around the corner from where I live. The sun shines on the facades in the morning and with the trees only just coming into leaf you can see most of the architecture, including the covered walkway, so it is a local scene which someone might take a shine to.

Other local scenes and townscapes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com