Saturday 28 January 2017

#158 The Chantries, Surrey Hills 9.5x12"

Very busy at the moment, as I have two exhibitions in March, one joint with my husband and one in a gallery. So I'm painting like a mad women to supply both! 

I've discovered two new areas I like for painting (The Chantries & Newlands Corner, both on the North Downs). Last weekend I started 4 plein air paintings in 3 days. One was my previous blog post, the other was a disaster! And two more I'm still working on. I went back to the areas - during the past couple of days to gather more information. I found I didn't have enough from the one visit - in the cold and fog! 
So I drew the scene and did another painting on the spot which is this one.
Had battles with it, much scrapping off and repainting. When it gets like that I cant tell if its worked ok  (which is when my Mum and husband are useful for feedback :-) They liked it.
Decided to leave the distant hills undefined and the forground put in more detail. Also keep the colours quite limited to bring a harmony.

Tuesday 24 January 2017

#157 'The River Wey, Farncombe' 12x12"

A beautiful morning, with a hard frost. I was out with the Surrey Hills Plein Air Painters. A lot of us gathered around to paint this subject. I enjoyed painting with others, and seeing their results of the same subject.

I was attracted to the winding path, frosty white and shadow shapes of the trees.
Again bitterly cold, it comes up through your feet and slowly freezes you! 

I tried a square format as it's different to what I'd normally choose for this sort of scene.
Difficult perspective on the canal and boats. I spent some time blocking in and making sure I got it mapped out as acurately as I could.
The tones are tricky too especially on the frosty areas as its easy to go too dark.
The river was frozen solid and the reflections muted. I repainted them twice before happy!

Thursday 19 January 2017

#156 'Tower House, Portsmouth Harbour' 8x20"

Painted this a couple of days ago in the city I used to live in. It was a good spot on top of the Round Tower (a fort built from the 1490's) being eye level with the big boats going in and out. I also heard a honking it was swan flapping by right near my head!

I chose to do this as a panoramic because the sky and light was wonderful and the sweep of the harbour a good combo. But it was quite hard to make the composition work with the the Tower House building in the foreground. 
By the time I had finished the outside session, I was unsure as to whether it was going to work out. 

When I returned back to the studio I couldn't bare the sea I had painted so wiped it all off and nearly wiped off the rest too but was pleased I didn't! 
Sometimes paintings work from the start and others don't! For example a painting I did last week but didn't post I worked when I got home but it didn't come together and was ditched.  Thankfully this one came together, yay! 

I drew this same scene back in 2003, I made the drawing outside but never did a painting from it until now. Might do another one in this more square format but on a different day and different weather.....

For Christmas this year my husband Nick, designed and made me a Open Box M pochade converter for panoramic boards like this one. Previously I have been taping the boards onto my pochade with brown tape! Because the Open Box M grips the painting on the sides, this one grips top and bottom.  I used it for the first time to do this painting and it worked beautifully, thank you Nick!

Monday 16 January 2017

#155 'The First Snow, Bramshott Common' 12x12"

Having painting in the morning I went home for sustenance and to warm my hands then straight out again as the snow was melting fast! 
We are at a high point in the area so I walked over to this common. I was lucky to find a patch of snow which was north facing and protected at the bottom of a hill. I was drawn to the bend of the tree and shapes of shadows in the snow. A square format seamed to suit the  uprights of the trees. 
While I was mixing my paint a deer came running past on the path in the painting, I was such a lovely sight. No people were around and its very quiet with the snow damping any sound. 
I didn't have a plan how the stye of the painting would be, it just seamed to happen! It reminds me a bit like Tom Thomson, the Candian artist. 

Even though I was tired from the mornings painting I was so inspired and excited I painted 95% of it outside and loved it! More snow please :-)

Sunday 15 January 2017

#154 'The Look out, Devils Punch Bowl' 11.5x16.5"

So excited to see the first snow of the season! I was out early by 8am to catch the sunrise colours, which were too fleeting to paint but photographed for another time.

The Devils Punch Bowl is a National Trust area. I have painted it several times before but first time in snow and it was stunning! It took me a while to settle on this subject, there's a lot of space, and trees and distance and quite difficult to find a strong composition, but was pleased with this one. 
I started on the darks, so it would show up the whites later and went between greeny browns to reddy browns with Raw Umber as the base. 
The sun was in and out of the clouds and quickly painted the bits of light when it came.

After a couple of hours the weather turned and a front came in with more snow, the distant hills were obscured and the scene looked so different, I finished it in the studio today.

It was fun being out there despite the bitter weather! People said to me I'm either crazy or committed to painting both I think! 
It's my first painting of snow outside, absolutely loved it and want to do more!!

Monday 9 January 2017

Life Drawing no.1

Decided to go back to life drawing. I haven't done any for over 5 years and before that it was sporadic. I thought it would help my observation skills and drawing for painting. 

I had forgotten how tough it is! So intense and focused, really enjoyed it though. A friendly group local to me in Hindhead.
Here are 3 drawings of about 7 I did today.
This first one I used the grey of the paper for my mid tone and the white and black chalk pastel for the light and darks. It feels likes painting when you use these broad strokes.

The second is the same pose a quick paint brush and ink study trying not to use to many lines to describe the figure. Not easy! 

This final one I actually did near the beginning of the day, finding my feet and feeling quite rusty and slow, but tried to do a careful and fairly accurate charcoal pencil drawing.

Friday 6 January 2017

#153 Morning Light, Staithes 8x8"

I mentioned a few posts back that I had the lurgie and I still getting over bronchitis and don't feel up to painting outside so I looked through my sketchbooks to find a pen and ink I did in Staithes June last year. (see pic below)

Painting from a photo is tricky as the photo is very limiting especially in tonal value. But it really helped to have drawn and seen the view in person.

When there's no time pressure of plein air painting I can afford to experiment. I put a tonal base layer (see pic below) and then working over the top to bring up the colour intensity and tonal contrast. Doing this allows for a more painterly and harmonised feel.

Getting the light on the water the right tone took a couple of goes as you think it's lighter than it is. Squinting I could see it wasn't much lighter just a different colour!
P.s I painted here in June, looking from the opposite direction no.87

Wednesday 4 January 2017

Pears Speed Painting

These look relatively simple to do but they're not! They take a lot of focus and drive to get them done and observed in the 10 minute time. They are still a mini painting even though they are small. They are 3x3" squares I tried apples and jugs last week.
It's to help speed me up when painting plein air and just tune my skills generally. 

Tried thick and thin paint and moving the lamp around to create different shadow shapes. Each time I painted the pear I saw more, like a different tone or shape.
I focused on the planes of the pear - the surface areas, this helped simplify the subject.

My students will be trying this next week, let's hope they enjoy it, as I think its a really useful exercise :-)

Tuesday 3 January 2017

#152 Low Tide, Langstone Harbour 9.5x12"

I painted this yesterday out in Lansgtone harbour, similar area to painting no.147
It was bitterly cold with a north wind blasting me. My hands were numb before I even started! I had gloves and hand warmers but it wasn't enough. 

I haven't painted plein air in a couple of weeks and was surprised at how rusty and out of sinc I felt. I had prepared all my gear the night before, and even that I felt resistance getting into the studio and doing it! I can see how artist block could develop by just not painting and not having that art thinking and routine...

The view I chose needed work with the composition - see pic below. But I thought it had potential. I managed to start but was so cold I could barely think. I got the essence in and then retreated home.
I finished it yesterday afternoon (too late to take pic and blog). Something I was mindful about was the dark bank of mud in the foreground I wanted a line of water to lead you to the mid ground and boat. So I added to the wiggle of water that was there already. I took out the second boat as the compostion was unbalanced with it.
I'm happy with the outcome and very pleased to be painting again!