I joined in a group exhibition in Southport where I live, and have been manning the gallery for a couple of days this week, as I am going on holiday the week after next. The shop is in a beautiful Victorian arcade, but unfortunately most of the shops are empty and footfall is low. To occupy my time between visitors, I painted this scene which is about 200 yards from the exhibition intending to put it in the exhibition. I have done quite a few of this street, called Lord Street, in the past and they have sold. The exhibition is on for six weeks and I have done quite well at this venue previously, though this time I am not holding my breath. I may try and get this painting in next week as there is still a bit of wall space available.
I put up a couple of Liverpool Street scenes, shown on the right, and the Southport street scene may fit in amongst them.
With a fine morning forecast for Tuesday I checked the maps and headed for some lanes I had not visited before. They were behind the small village of Haskayne around six miles from where I live in Southport. I had no idea what I was going to find to sketch. The first subject was a rickety footbridge over a drainage ditch. I liked the way it was partially in shadow and the intriguing view between the branches into another field. Nothing much, but it was a pleasant way to sit on a sunny morning, listening to birdsong between the silence – this time without the passing crowds.
I eventually found a second subject – a magnificent tree standing serenely alone in a wheat field with the morning sun illuminating its trunk and leaves. It had the shape of an oak, but the leaves seemed to be fine like an ash, I couldnt get near as the foreground grass and plants covered a deep ditch.
I had to get back early as the plumber was coming to sort my boiler out – but it was pleasant few hours on a sunny June morning.
I posted a sunlit painting of a snicket along the railway track a few days ago. If you continue down that snicket, it comes out on the right, in what they call Birkdale Village – part of Southport, where I live. Here you are actually standing on the rail track with part of the station, the building on the far right.
I think it was the old phone box, lit by the early morning sun that caught my eye and the fact that the sixties carbuncle, on the left – the Spar supermarket – is mellowed and put in the shade by the light coming in over it. Colours are subdued with hints of spring leaves in the background.
A quiet scene of morning stirrings in the suburbs.
This is a scene I see almost daily on my walk. Well, that is, when I get up in time and the sun shines and… So sometimes, anyway. These early summer mornings with the colours of young leaves in sunshine lift the spirit. I also like the old cast-iron bollards that guard the alleyway and which seem isolated and redundant now. Not to mention the old street lamp, still in its old borough colours of cream and red.
Further on my morning route is the site of another painting I did – and posted here – a couple of years ago, at a similar time of the year with the bright morning sun shining through the new leaves.
Those who read my last blog will be aware that I am painting a couple of commission pieces. Here is the second – part of the front of the house. Some of the house is presently under scaffolding and boarded up, so I had to use some old photos to complete this painting. Anyway, I’ve just finished it and I need a while to look at it and see if there are any adjustments to be made. Putting it out on my blog will help, as I will see it every time I go in.
I posted the buyer a copy of the first painting and he seemed happy. Hopefully I’ll get a similar reaction when I send him the final copy.
Then, as I was painting this, I got another enquiry for a painting which had been sold, so I’ve been asked to do a copy of that. Its like the old story – you wait ages for a bus and then three come along at once – well four in this case. So I’d better crack on and start it…
This is the approach to a village close to where I live. I wanted to paint it in situ last summer but to get this view I had to stand on one leg with a hedge pressed into my back. So I took a few photos and looked for somewhere more comfortable to paint – perhaps it’s an age thing. The low morning sun coming in over the unkempt field and the row of half illuminated houses appealed to me. So many times have I found the best views are in the most inaccessible of places.
We have been getting some decent weather of late, even though it has got colder. On Saturday it was still warm enough to get on the bike and do some more outdoor painting. My plan was to attempt more complex subjects – subjects I would normally attempt in the studio. The one above is of a small bridge over a drainage ditch. I liked the counterchanges from light to dark and back again. In the end I had to to the railings in gouache when I got home – as I didnt take any with me. Whilst the gouache was out I added some stalks and grasses on the near bank. Despite the austere subject it made an interesting painting and might be worth doing bigger.
The next subject was daffodils in a small coppice. The flowers were away from the trees, but I wanted to use the darker trunks as a foil for the flowers. Normally I would use masking fluid, but outside, without any, I had to work around the flowerheads. I find daffodils difficult at the best of times because the yellow isnt a very imposing colour. In hindsight I should have pushed the flowers back further against the trees and used the contrast for all it was worth and, at the same time, reduced the complexity of the background – but that is what sketching is about – working out the best options.
Whilst I sat working on this picture, at the edge of the wood, a hare came slowly towards me. It got to within about 5 feet. I wanted to photograph it, but reaching for the camera would have disturbed it. In the end it realised I was there and bolted off into the woods.
A few fellow bloggers have shamed me by getting out and doing some plein air painting, even in the chill depths of February. So, this week, when the sun shone and the temperatures rose I got on my bike and tried to find some suitable subjects.
So here they are; the first of this year, from around the lanes close to where I live – even managing to get a March date on my sketchbook page. Above is one of the many drainage ditches which run along the lanes and keep this old marsh area suitable for agriculture. This one might be worth working up into a painting.
This second one I have done before, but with the trees in full leaf. The shape of the trees reveal the prevailing winds.
As I work fairly fast I need sun and warmth to get the washes to dry, otherwise shapes just become amorphous and the paint too thick as you put one wet wash on top of another – even tricks like painting the sky, then the foreground and dodging from one dry area to the next waiting for the first wash to dry dont work – and then there was the day that the washes froze on the palette; that`s when I took a vow to stay indoors on cold days. But Wednesday was a very pleasant day to be out in the open.
Wednesday was a sunny day so I cycled out to get some more information for a painting I was planning. This park was close to my area of interest, so I stopped by and I couldnt resist this contra jour scene of the old Victorian gatehouse to the park and the people enjoying the afternoon sunshine.
This is the third painting from a recent local walk. The two others I posted were watercolours, but I decided to do this in a stylised way with acrylics. I was taken by the illumination of the ivy on the tree trunks and thought that the potency of the saturation of the acrylic paint would better show this off and the bright reflections off the leaves had the feeling of a mosaic. The ivy clad trunks were in conflict with the bare winter branches which added more incongruity. So here it is – on our way back to the car.
The other two were the Boatyard at Banks and Afternoon Stroll. So in the end it proved a fruitful afternoon`s stroll.