Thursday 5 September 2019

#486 'Red Sails'

I have decided this is my last post on 'blogspot' but I am continuing as normal with posting on my website blog:

'Red Sails' was painted in our cottage in Staithes (North Yorkshire). A dream view of the sea and lots of nautical pieces in the house. The boat has a lovely shape silhouetted in the window and I enjoyed painting the light around it and through the sails. 
Worked on the tonal values as the outside is so bright compared to the room, and I had to lighten the wall of the house outside so it reads better. And make sure the wall on the inside on the left was dark enough. 

Just found out I have been preselected for the Royal Institute of Oil painters at the Mall Galleries. Next round and I'm in their annual exhibition - fingers crossed!!

I am off to Venice tomorrow for a 3 week painting trip! Very excited for all the paintings that will come and (ice-cream to eat!) and hope you might join me on my website blog :-)

With best wishes

Wednesday 4 September 2019

#485 'Brezetta'

Painting in Haslemere High Street, on the green with the busy traffic slowing down to see what we were doing! It was to publicise our yearly exhibition. I painted a model for the first time and really enjoyed it! Especially being outside with the sunshine lighting the side of her body like a halo.
I was quite slow painting it especially in the beginning as I have not painted a figure before and wasn't sure how to go about it, so I tackled as I do a landscape!
Having the unprimed linen canvas helped it seemed to lend itself to the style of her and the painting. I let large areas show through.

Painting on the high Street 14x18" oil on canvas

Wednesday 28 August 2019

#484 Lifeboat Station, Mersea Island

This was the first painting I did with Graham in Essex, I choose a low horizon line to emphasis the dramatic windy sky. I drew and re drew the Coastguard building in different areas on the board and also different sizes. It was the first time there and it takes a while to settle into a place. It was worth redrawing as the composition is so important and at the early stage its easy to change!

I use a Pro Arte Stirling round brush to draw the initial composition and the colour I choose to draw in is connected to the painting colours. For this one its a deep browny red colour, similar to the lifeboat building. So if any drawing bits show through they link in with the final painting.

Friday 23 August 2019

#483 Boats at West Mersea Island

I spent the day in Essex with a painter I admire called Graham Webber. We painted side by side and it was a real treat! I loved watching him work and chatting art all day :-) 

Sometimes it feels very solitary as a painter but when these sort of days happen it feeds the artistic soul! And also gives me reassurance that the stuff I think and do as an artist is not alone for example taking photos for reference. Graham had his big Canon camera with him and was not abashed about taking photos as an aid memoire for back in the studio. It can often be frowned upon to use a photo to work from but as we discussed if you use them as a tool then why not!! So you are not doggedly copying but using it or several of them to help compose and colour your painting. Sometimes if there is a fleeting light on my subject or cloud formation I will take a photo in case I want to use it later. It can be hard to record and translate everything when doing a plein air.

Mine is on the right, Graham's the left
11x14"oil on board

Wednesday 21 August 2019

#482 Worcestershire Hills

We were recently staying with friends in the countryside near Kidderminster. I've not been before and I loved the patchwork of hills and sheep grazing in the foreground. 

I drew the scene and took photos so I was able to produce this painting in the studio. I choose the point of the sun being below the horizon but just glowing some last colour. 

I didn't copy the sketch completely but moved the trees and enlarged the strip of distant hills at that was important to me.

I used a Loxely canvas clear gesso primed - its linen colour, useful as a mid-tone for a sunset which is generally a bit darker tone than a daytime painting. Nice to let some of the linen colour show through in the painting.

Wednesday 14 August 2019

#481 'Trundle'

There are many factors that make plein air painting a challenge. This time it was the wind! Being very exposed on top of the Downs the wind was whisking up the hill into my face. It buffets my arm when I place the paint on the board, and I have to hold onto the easel for dear life as even with it weighted by my bag it would still go over.  I find it exhausting battling that and trying to paint. So I'm pleased with the outcome of this one.

I have painted this area many times, what draws me back? I like to feel the space and distance - and little glimmer of sea in the distance. Plus the familiar shape of the Isle of Wight. To capture of the undulating shapes of the hills is not easy. I used brush strokes to describe the planes. 

Tuesday 13 August 2019

#480 'Sunflower and Buttercups' & Daily Painting

I had an hour to spare in between commitments. It would have been easy to think - I don't have enough time to paint. But it made me focus and work quickly and with intent, no procrastinating! It's come out and fresh and lively. 
I committed to a year of 'Daily Painting'  in 2016. Where I painted small and often tackling a wide variety of subjects like cupcakes, shoes, jugs and flowers. It was such fun and so helpful for my development of skills and confidence. I recommend Carol Marines book on Daily Painting. It's a gem!

Saturday 10 August 2019

#479 'Bosham Creek' & Artist Life en plein air...

The trial and tribulations of plein air...I stopped 5 times to find a suitable place and subject to paint! I but came home with no painting!
(I actually went back the next day and did the above painting.)

To give you an idea of what sometimes happens when I am searching for a subject....

First stop off the A3 going south near Clanford, I'd seen the area before and wanted to look with sunlight. But not inspiring enough to paint. so I continued to the coast, I usually start looking from the closest place to begin with which is Langstone Harbour, looking for the right combination of tide, light and boats. This time the tide was too high so there wasn't enough compositional elements. 
I moved onto Emsworth Harbour, the best bit there was on the mud contra jour but it wasn't what I fancied so moved on again, to Bosham Creek. This was just right, the tide level, the gorgeous sky. But I didn't have the board that would suit the subject - it needed to be a long panoramic shape, I tried to make do with a traditional landscape shape board but it didn't work. 
So moved on again to Bosham Harbour. The tide was just right as I arrived which didn't leave me time to set up and paint it. I tried but the wind was very gusty and knocked my easel over while I had my back turned all my paint from my palette garage fell onto the road, I tried to scrap it up and re use it but there was too many bits in it!

By then the water was at my feet and the the composition had disappeared. I remembered it enough to draw so it would remind me to return and try a paint again...
Driving home I didn't feel too dejected with no painting to show for my efforts as there were two subjects found and I would return the next day to try again!

I arrived earlier at the Bosham Creek and there was no water as the tide was so far out, the water looked miles away. But I decided to set up all my equipment, it was a bit of a mission as I had two pochards with me - I was going big!!
80x40cm en plein air is not to be sniffed for me, one of my biggest to date I think. My usual pochade was way too small to hold it. So I used a half french pochade and my open box m as the palette - see pic.

I spent time on the composition, being a big painting I wanted it to be dynamic and strong. I liked the S shape of the water and emphasised it. It was changing incredibly quickly within 15 mins it was starting to flood the area and you couldn't see the S shape anymore! I didn't even pause to mix paint before I started and put the water and land in so I had a starting point. 
Near the end of the painting I saw some little sail boats came out and they worked perfectly against the dark of the boat house in the distance.

The sky wasn't as good as the day before so I changed it back in the studio to the big clouds and lovely light. 

Wednesday 7 August 2019

#478 'Sunflowers in Glass Jug'

I fancied another go at these lovely blooms! Using a sky colour as a background - Kings Blue Deep and Cerulean mixed together. On a bigger canvas - 16x17" 

Tuesday 30 July 2019

#477 'Boats at Dell Quay' & Teaching

I taught 4 very friendly plein air painters last week. Typical that it was the hottest day of the year almost ever in our part of the world - over 38 degrees and humid. Tough conditions to paint and for me to teach. 

Crammed together in a small area of shade!

The morning session I helped them all get settled and gave them as much information as they could take, so I didn't really get a chance to paint myself. The afternoon was calmer after a big lunch of fish and chips and a pint of Guinness for Mick! I had time to do a little boat painting, using short flat 'Ultimate Bristle ' Rosemary and co brushes - my favs at the mo. and making each brush stroke count.

I think one of the main things people struggle with is tonal variations in colour. Pre mixing colours & tones (light and dark versions) before starting to paint, my students said it really helped. I do it for nearly all my paintings and helps me feel on top of it, use more paint to paint with, it colour harmonises as I mix my pre mixed colours together.

If you get a chance to comment on here I would appreciate knowing what you find hard in painting - especially plein air, to help me with future teaching and what to write on this blog!

Tide in spot my little boat!

Monday 29 July 2019

#476 'The North Downs'

Mainly cloudy 1:1 plein air teaching day. This was the view near his house. We enhanced what was there - I liked the wheat field so made it the feature. Also when the sun came out to put the foreground shadow in. I walked a little left to see the hills int he background so I could paint them in even though they weren't in my eye-line - adds compositional interest!

Saturday 27 July 2019

#475 Sunflowers

An apt flower with all this sunshine and heat! I seem to paint flowers better when they are in the garden instead of inside my studio with sunshine falling on them. 
Chunking together petal shapes not painting individuals.
Cadmium Yellow deep a useful colour & mixed with Cerulean - for the background.
The composition took so long to arrange and paint and repaint - over an hour of doing this. But it pays off, and I like how it fills the edges and suits the boldness of the flower. Also looking at the ellipse brown centres, drawing them correctly and not to even shapes across the canvas.
14x15" oil on canvas

Tuesday 23 July 2019

#474 View From Tilford Bridge

I painted this subject this time last year. I like going back to a place and painting it again as the knowledge and experience from the first time is there and helps inform the next go. (in theory!)
I liked the willow trees and their reflections in the water, the cows for life, and the water reeds to foreground interest. 

Now that the paint is nearly dried I cant decide whether to add a thicker layer to make the colour richer and the tones a little stronger... 

Oil on board 12x16"

Monday 22 July 2019

#473 West Wittering

A commission. I don't do many, as I tend not to advertise, but I'm willing to do them if people ask. This one was for a ladies 50th her siblings got together to buy it for her as a surprise.
Sadly they didn't give me much time so had to go when it wasn't sunny! This was actually my second attempt the first was blowing a hoolie and awful, at least this time it was atmospheric and the sun came out for 10 minutes!

They ended up buying another one I did from a photograph of sunny West Wittering! At least they were happy :-)

Friday 19 July 2019

#472 'The Four Sisters, Morston' 10x12"

Taken from a quick tonal sketch made on a morning in North Norfolk before these 4 boats were taken out. They are a seal watching company and while we were there the boats were packed full of expectant watchers. 

This painting was the only one in Norfolk I did where the sunlit my subject instead of side or contra jour, it creates quite a different look. I enjoy the rich colours and those reflections!

Wednesday 17 July 2019

#471 'Mortson Quay' 11x14"

I timed the paint to be in-between tides, but the water rushed in so quickly I painted the edges of the banks first so I had a pleasing shape before it disappeared. (see picture below for how the water looked when I finished)
Contra jour light, around 8am. I used a pre-stained board with Burnt Sienna, very light in tone but gives a warm base to work on. Especially the lights show up straight way - on a white board much harder.
I didn't put all the boats in as the size board couldn't take it, editing out to make the composition work.
Just my sort of subject!
Standing on a rickety jetty trying not to drop anything between the gaps!

Monday 15 July 2019

#470 'Sunday Sailing, Morston'

Quite tricky to find a composition that worked with lots of comings and goings of boats and people because it was a sunny Sunday morning. 
I was there with the ROI (Royal Institute of Oil painters) and the IEA (institute of East Anglian painters.) A painting day with lots of amazing artist, really inspiring to see how they worked and paint with them.

I liked this National Trust hut silhouetted with the contra jour sun. Everything was high key and bight. Lots of interesting activity as well, the boat sail was a bonus! 

I kept it loose and sketchy wanting it to feel fresh and lively, to suit the day.
I felt honoured that David Curtis wanted to paint the same subject as me so he ducked in behind and this started a line of other painters joining in with this subject! ....

 The tide quickly drained out of this area, plus the blue foreground boat was taken away!

Friday 12 July 2019

#469 'Wells Next to Sea, Norfolk' 11x14"

There are many ups and downs of being an artist and I was feeling a bit self doubting. 
We had arrived in North Norfolk the previous night and I was keen to explore this area which I've not visited before. It was raining and grey I could see there was lots of subject fodder but my mind was getting in the way. I did a painting in the morning which I haven't finished yet but then had an amazing opportunity to paint with David Curtis, he has been plein air painting for over 50 years!! 

We painted side by side for 2 1/2 hours and he was such a tonic and I felt a lot better by the end of it! You could say I got my mojo back and felt so inspired by the subject. 
It's good to paint with others who are more experienced. I wouldn't have chosen this subject on my own as it was extremely complex. But seeing him tackle it gave me the confidence to try and I'm really pleased with the result.

A grey day can put me off painting but this painting shows there can be a subject out there!

Thursday 11 July 2019

#468 Pink Peonies

I wanted to get the colours as vibrant a possible so kept mixing until they we’re bright enough - I used Magenta to help with the intensity. Peonies are such happy flowers!! 🌸

Oil on board 10x10"

Friday 5 July 2019

#467 Morning Light, Langstone

7am in the summer time and the sun is already quite high but there is some warm interesting light. 

Driving down to the coast I thought I'd check out Langstone first before I went further along the coast towards Bosham. But this scene grabbed me and I could envisage it on the upright format. I knew I didn't have long before the sun would be out of my picture and the tide was rapidly emptying! 
I started blocking in the main elements that are going to change. I put the horizon in first just above a 3rd up and then the boats. The clouds made a lovely pattern around the sun which I sketched in. Also the shape of the mud flats I like the little opening of water which leads the eye in. 

I spent an hour and 20 minutes painting on location but by then the tide was gone and the sun had moved it was a different painting. So I stopped and completed that afternoon in my studio while it was still fresh.

#466 Blue Canal Boat

Not a subject I would have gone out to paint but a friend asked me to help her with plein air painting. 
When I first started painting outside I would choose a single object like this boat as it was similar to a still life - light a dark on a single element. So she honed in and I did a little of the surrounding. 
Canal boats are so tricky with their perspective being long and narrow but this little fella was a short version and seemed to have a character! 
An enjoyable paint but got terribly sunburn on my neck, not used to the sun yet!

Monday 1 July 2019

#465 Daisies & Grasses

I wanted a light an airy feel, difficult with light flowers and a fairly light background. Contrasted dark grasses helps with the tonal composition.

#464 Cows

A quick sketch, I saw them all through the window of my studio while I was painting something else at the time but couldn't resist them. So I crept out not wanting to disturb as they are so curious and friendly.
Managed about 15 minutes before they all got up to come and see what I was doing.

Saturday 22 June 2019

#463 'Towards Chelsea Bridge' 35x45cm

Working on a larger scale again out en plein air. Was lucky with the sun coming out so provide sparkles on the water and great silhouetted shapes. My sort of subject! I wanted to paint as much as possible outside -because it takes me out of my comfort, pushing to make decisions and bring areas to a conclusion, I took about 3 hours and did 90+% of it, pleased to manage this, and with the outcome.

Tuesday 18 June 2019

#462 'Early Summer The River Wey' 35x45cm

Clambering over dewy wet grass some of it as tall as me in search of an inspiring composition and scene....Morning light with the greens so bright plus the gate and reflections, worth a paint!

A canvas bigger than usual 35x45cm as I want to challenge myself which I do with so many greens to mix and get right, focus on cool and warm, light and darks. Considering there isn't much to the composition I'm pleased with the outcome.

This is the start with my mixing palette as well.