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.
Earlier this month I posted a painting from a recent walk. Here is another scene from that walk: the ramshackled boatyard on the banks of the River Douglas. This river flows into the River Ribble at its estuary, near Preston. Many of the boats in the yard are deposited alongside a footpath which runs at the side of the river. On the other side of the river are tall embankments and green fields. The site is rather incongruous in this rural setting and I have noticed that a growing number of people are living in boats or newly erected static caravans. No doubt there`ll be a shop and a village pub opening soon.
In the painting I wanted to show the cluttered boatyard against the open country, so the main boat occupies a space close to the centre of the painting. This design may upset some of the purists, but I wanted to present the two aspects of the site in a sort of split screen production, segregated by the tree. I placed a lead in of an upturned dinghy and cart, but hopefully I captured the flavour of the yard amid its surroundings.
Another old favourite – Halsall Church, the village church, which is a few miles across the Moss from where I live in Southport. I did a similar view ages ago which sold. In spring, summer and autumn the church is obscured by foliage and it was only in December that I spotted the view again as I cycled around on a sunny day. The sandstone of the church in sunlight blends well with the winter coats of trees, and in this view I focussed more on the Church. The painting now sits in the window of my framer, hopefully awaiting purchase.
I did this a couple of weeks ago, but it got forgotten in the pile. I was after the smoky blues you get in the still early mornings and did resort to a glaze of blue tinted gouache. Perhaps more foliage detail in the foreground might add to the depth, but there is an understated calm about it which is what I was after.
A couple more sketches taken from photos, but painted in one sitting, quickly as if I was on site. This is a path I’ve been along many times, cycling to work. The photo was taken a few weeks ago when good weather coaxed me back on the bike. I am a sucker for puddles and here they are in bucket loads. It was painted in three main washes. Sky and puddles, then land and the blocks of trees and finally all the left hand trees, house details, shadows and fiddly bits. I feel I went in too dark with the muddy track and that limited my options for building up texture there.
This is an image from late summer and it started to get a bit overworked trying to get the tufts of seeding rosebay willowherb ( I think) in shadow. This one probably needed masking fluid, but as I dont use it in the field I resorted to scratching back with a scalpel to get the delicate fronds of decaying flowers.
If nothing else it was a good exercise should I want to paint a bigger or more finished painting.