Well, I couldnt resist taking a few pictures of this couple down at our local lake, feeding the birds. More so, because it was into the sun and the birds sang out like jewels – helped by the dark shadow cast by one of the stores in the nearby retail park. Then there was the plastic bag held by the woman, the biggest diamond, catching the sunlight.
Not one I’d like to do plein air neither for its complexity nor because of the chill wind down there that day, but it was a nice little exercise in the warmth of my studio, arranging and adjusting the players and building up the tones.
I have painted and posted a version of this scene before, in 2019. It is of our main street in town on a winter’s evening, just as the sun is going down. I was never completely happy with it and it never sold – always a sign -yet I did like the basic concept. Now there is less detail in the upper buildings, lights in the shops under the arcade and a whole new crew of pedestrians. I also tried to do it in single washes, mixing paint on the paper to prevent muddiness.
So even though there still are some minor issues – but what painting doesnt have them – I am much happier with the outcome and we will see if this version sails off to someone else’s wall.
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.
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.
Here are a couple of old paintings I reworked recently. This one, of the local reclaimed farmlands behind our town and the roller-coaster lane that runs across it, was washed with water and almost half of the painting removed or reduced in tone. I then repainted the foreground. Hopefully it now has a softer feel. more appropriate to an early morning scene.
And another painting given a similar treatment. This one, of Rivington Pike, which you can see across the moss from Southport, where I live. A similar approach was done to this, washing off the lower half to increase the impression of morning light and then reworking the fore ground.
Both were long format paintings which I am presently short of, ready for any upcoming exhibitions.
At present I am working on some big commission pieces with one almost finished, allowing me to start on the second one. I have posted sketches of them earlier and hopefully will have something to show soon.
Most mornings I cross Crescent Road and see this view. It is close to where I live and on a sunny morning the glow of the red bricks complementing the verdant hedges and other foliage as well as the patterns of light and shade always captures my attention. So I thought I would paint it and add it to my small collection of local paintings. And here it is for you, a small snapshot of where I live.
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.
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.
I’ve been exploring abstracts derived from the landscape and showed some of these in previous posts. As a first stage in the production of these abstracts, I have been sketching out loose landscapes to see if they might lead me somewhere down this path. Here are a couple I was pleased with. The one above came from a clip I saw on the TV and I did a quick, loose, watercolour sketch from memory. There isnt much to it, but it gave a pleasing result.
The one above is based on the beach at Southport, where I live, and I have used the idea of this in one of the semi abstracts I showed in my last post. Initially, I was actually messing around with a skyscape and added the sand and sea as an afterthought. I like the way the rivulets form on the beach, though it can result on getting your feet wet as you walk along the beach, especially when the tide is coming in.
A view I’ve done before, but this time I thought I would make more of the sunset and it’s effects. I’ve used the woman crossing the road with her shopping bags in another painting, but she fits in well here.
I think I’ve mentioned before, in earlier blogs, how the sunset in winter months is quite spectacular on Lord Street, the main street in Southport, where I live. I also spotted the light reflecting off the surface of a puddle in the gutter and, if nothing else, that was reason enough for me to do a painting.