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.
Another canal painting. I liked the dark form of the narrowboat melding into the bridge in shadow. There was also a lot of foliage and I tried applying paint to sprayed water to get lost and found edges. It took a few goes to build up the volume. Because of all the green I introduced some warms to break the monotony, though not too much as the subdued colour range pulls out the central figure and hopefully focusses the eye on the detail.
As practise for future plein air work I did this quickly on the back of an old painting, so I may not have got the proportions of the hill correct. I had an old photo and pretended that I was sat in a field getting it down with the minimum of washes. I also took the opportunity to jazz up the light at the same time. I was pleased with the result and I think the sky helps; along with ignoring a lot of the detail in the landscape. Its something I need to do more out in the field, putting in just enough detail to capture attention, but not getting bogged down.
Having recently sold a couple of canal scenes I thought that I would paint a view of the Leeds to Liverpool Canal at Parbold. Another reason was to rattle the Troll’s cage – it gets agitated when it sees a canal – though never reading its rants, it might have changed for all I know or care.
I liked the boat tucked into the sunny mooring though I changed it to a narrowboat and the figures I borrowed from another photo. I saw some guys in a narrowboat when I was painting along the canal in the summer. They didnt look your usual barge folk. When I packed up to leave I walked past them and heard them speak in a foreign language. Later, it occurred to me that perhaps they were using narrowboats to house foreign workers – or perhaps illegal immigrants, who knows. There are quite a few craft well past their prime moored along the canal so that might be an easy way to raise some income. Though once you`ve handed the keys over your asset might disappear off into the sunset, never to be seen again.
A view of Liverpool city towards the Mersey with the tall commercial buildings blocking out the bright sunlight until the sun’s persistence starts to break through and tear open the gloom. On the right, towering above the street, is the Liver Building with its clock tower and the Liver Birds balanced on the cupolas above.
I think I had just come out of a life drawing session and crossed the road to spot this. The life drawing group had been forced to move here from a decrepit but lovely light building to one on the right, There wasnt much natural light on the model down at the bottom of this valley and added to that the room was smaller.
Last summer I climbed Parbold Hill which is close to the M6, south of Preston. It looks out west over the Lancashire plain towards the Irish sea, amongst other places. This was the view I saw as I made my way back to my car. Earlier I had sat and painted a number of sketches which I posted at the time.
Here is the first one of the day, on the way up the hill.
The trees, in a line in the mid ground, on the top painting, I think are hawthorn trees, though I have never gone to investigate. This line of trees in the centre of the field have always interested me. In 2015 I was painting on the hill in the evening and took some images of the trees and did a pastel from it. Same trees, different angle – again I posted this one at the time. I loved the shadows cast by the trees from the setting sun and so did someone else as the painting was purchased soon after.
This is part of the Albert Dock complex on the Liverpool waterfront with the Anglican Cathedral – a subject of an earlier blog – glowering in the background. The pumphouse is now a pub but was built to power the hydraulic cranes used for loading and unloading the ships. It may also have powered the refrigerated facilities at the dock.
The question was whether to include the chimney or not. Including it constrains the painting and reduces the detail. As it has a rather quirky shape I decided to include it all and pay the price. The images I used were into the sun and I tried to vary the colours, mixing on the paper, but as I built up the perspective tonally, the mixes homogenised.
The tower of the Anglican Cathedral glowers over large parts of the city. Here on the edges of Toxteth it thoroughly dominates the surrounding buildings even though it is set back within its wooded grounds. It is most striking when a sandstone face glows in the sunlight whilst its shadow-side displays a thunderous purple- maybe some ecclesiastical message there for us, the great unwashed. Anyway, because of the dominance of the tower, I pushed the other architecture back. I also placed a taxi, blocking the pavement, at an angle to break the verticals. Perhaps it could do with a few figures?
This is a morning view from Churchtown -part of Southport, where I live, – across the flat Lancashire plain to Rivington Pike and the start of the Pennines. As I paused on my bike on a spring morning, I was taken by the lines of trees and buildings enveloped by the morning mist and the crisp purple line of the hills beyond.
I have also been doing a bit of meddling. I wasnt completely happy with this watercolour – Fall – I put on the blog a while ago. I thought that the tree looked constrained and unnatural so I added some more branches and messed up the lines of the foliage, whilst retaining the blue/orange contrast. It took some scrubbing and scraping of the sky area to get back to clean paper allowing me to achieve the transparency and vibrancy of the new leaves.
Hopefully it has retained the freshness of the original version.