Wednesday 31 January 2018

#292 'Winter, Winkworth Arboretum ' 8x10"

I completed this oil sketch in one hour this afternoon. 
The sun was out for about 20 minutes when I started which was a bonus as it looked so much better with the light on the trees. Squinting my eyes I could see quite a difference with the lower foliage being in shadow. 
First stages...
One of my new things I'm working on is not copying exactly what I see in the subject colour wise, so the dark area I exaggerated the red-violets more. Taking what I see as a starting point but then using complementaries together and lifting certain colours more. Which will hopefully be a more pleasing result. When I first started plein air I thought you were supposed to mix the exact colour for everything you see but you don't have too which is quite liberating!

I was watching You Tube again last night prepping for todays painting and I saw Roos Schuring painting and an interview after, she is a well known Dutch painter. 
She has wonderful brush strokes and thick paint in her work. Something I picked up was she said don't use too soft a brush as the brush marks wont show so well, use old bristly stiff brushes. So I dug out my very old rejected brushes (Escoda Filbert no.16) and had a go today. They worked really well for the winter foliage. Here is the link to Roos painting if your interested......

Tuesday 30 January 2018

#291 'Cutmill Creek' 9x10"

One of those that happened like magic! It painted itself. 
I spent sometime looking for the 'right' composition and ended up back at the first place I looked! I had been put off as my back was right next to a main road - loud and fast.
But I enjoyed painting it and tried to keep the brush strokes loose and visible.
The board was given to me from artist friend Sarah Manolescue. A trial for a new format being 9x10" quite unusual but it worked well for this subject. If it was square the composition is harder to get right.
This is right next to Bosham, a great little area, I have now painted 3 times, many more to come!...

Sunday 28 January 2018

#290 Tower Bridge 10x12" & Preparing for a Days Painting

The sky was beautiful when I arrived a typical English with cloud fluffies and crisp blue behind them. I was lucky as by the time I'd painted the sky it had clouded over and it was mainly grey! So different and not as magical.

I thought it maybe helpful & or interesting to read what I do to prepare before a days painting especially in a big city....

Weather forecast Check for rain & wind. Sun & cloud was due so perfect! How windy? - Gusts up to 30mph = cold and need winter tripod & layers.

Research on google other peoples paintings of this area eg 'Tower Bridge plein air paintings'. And ask questions of myself 'what do I like, what compositions work well and formats'...

Google Maps
Drop the man onto the map to see a photo of the view and whether it makes a good painting subject, also helps to work out board size shape..

Tube station check how far it is to walk - with all the gear! (or parking if I drive.)

Suncalc app on Android phone 
Put in any position on a map like Tower Bridge and see where the sun direction will shine onto your subject at anytime of the day. Great tool for working out your painting position.

Equipment pack my bag ready with boards, loading my palette garage with paint, pochade, tripod...gather my warm clothing.

Watch You Tube of plein air painting demos of people I admire e.g. I watched Lena Rivo a Portugese artist who is amazing! I love her work and and afterwards felt inspired geed up for my day in London.
Or Watch one of my painting DVD's for example a good one pre London is Ken Howards 'Variations on a Theme' as he is painting in London and it's good!

Intention Have ideas before you set out....That day I decided that I wanted to paint Tower Bridge, a bigger size than previously and with more colour, especially in the sky.

I want to get the most out of a painting day especially when I'm making an effort with the travel and carrying kit around.
Turning up at a location can be overwhelming and you just want to paint it, but to prepare beforehand helps give direction and goals and also allows for smoother travel time and generally more prepared on all fronts!!

Before I refined it

I got the painting home and was going to post it on here and Instagram but wasn't 100% about it. I knew it needed some work but it wasn't obvious what until I started on it - 
What I did...Darkened the water in the foreground, refined the boats and buildings. Happier now!

Wednesday 24 January 2018

#289 'Winter, West Wittering Beach' 12x16"

Very windy day but beautiful light. I got sucked into the big view and used a big canvas. I was pleased with the bones of it - composition and the sky but then I got home and it underwhelmed a little, I think the colours were too muted and so nothing to loose I scraped back with a palette knife all of it a part from the sky! It's still there but with no paint texture - see pic below.
Scraped back wet paint but subject still there
Out on location ....I painted the sky first and I was aware I was taking too long to cover the bigger area. It's too long because by the time I got to paint the beach the tide was coming in and and there wasn't much left of it! The light on the sand is my favourite bit...Comparing the tone and colour to the sky.
The canvas (Belle Arti Linen Fine weave) was different to my boards, not used to the texture and I use my hand and rag quite a bit to wipe paint and move it around or soften edges, this is harder with a canvas. 

Back at home after I'd scraped back the excess paint and left with a ghost. I repainted the green area of the sea, making it more intense and thicker paint, Blue-Green in the distance and more Yellow-Green closer to us. (The shallow water & the colour of the beach effects the sea colour.)
The colour of the foamy waves are tinged with a peachy colour (not pure white) 
The line of darker sand I mixed a colour similar to the clouds just darker in tone and keeping the edges soft. I'm pleased with the outcome :-)

Monday 22 January 2018

#288 Mist & Snow The Devils Punch Bowl 8x10"

I didn't know we were due snow, so Sunday morning was quite exciting! I dropped everything to get out and paint at the highest point in our area - The Punch Bowl. 
I was drawn to these trees because of the shapes and the snow on them and the feeling of receding space helped by the mist.
It was snowing when I arrived but later turned to rain. I couldn't have painted without my new brolly its called a Gust Buster for golfers, its huge 62" white monster, supposedly good for wind too. I rested it on my palette as too heavy to hold but it worked a treat my palette and board didn't get wet, yay!
This is mainly a tonal painting starting with the big foreground tree which had some green in it I then adjusted the tone by adding a light violet for the middle distant trees and the far trees had Naples Yellow in too. I put the structure of the trees in first then the lighter tones of snow.
Because I was painting quick - it was cold! and I wanted the trees loose, I didn't shape the foreground tree enough and then it was too late, best to leave it and not fiddle, so its fatter than the original, but doesn't really matter, still gives a feel for it!
The really light snow I paint on thickly helps to see the texture of the paint.

Sunday 21 January 2018

#287 'The Trundle, South Downs' 8x14"

I painted this scene previously at the beginning of the week. I wanted to go back and try it again, this time smaller and with more care. (The first was a quick sky painting.)
I also wanted to use thicker paint. I had this intention before I started plus using confident strong strokes, even though I may not have felt it!
This pic shows the beginnings. I put swatches as I mix with my palette knife to check colour and tones to start with, adjusting as I go on.

I felt like a mosaic of shapes to fit together. I didn't want to blag any area but really look and record.
The sun was just out the picture to the left and the horizon was yellow near the sun and cooler away from it. 

I've completed 5 paintings this week with so many places and subjects...London, West Wittering and snow at the Punch Bowl... I love my job!!  
Also a note: I keep my palette going and wipe off the thin mixes after each day but the piles of mixed paint I keep for the next day and may use them which saves precious time.

Friday 19 January 2018

#286 'Winter, Hammersmith Bridge' 8x10"

Really tough conditions, biting cold wind, gusts of 38MPH, I tied my easel to the lamp post so I didn't have to hold onto it the whole time. Trying to do any detail was tricky as it buffeted your arm but I'm still happy with how its turned out, it captures the essence of the bridge - I love the silhouetted shape and the lovely green lit from the side. 
The rowers I thought they were mad to be on the Thames on a day like this, but realised they might think I was mad to be painting there too! I thought they gave a bit of life to the scene.

I painted this bridge a couple of months ago, but didn't post it, (it was a duffer!) I made the mistake of painting too close so it was huge in the picture. A good lesson to stand further back when it's a new (tricky) subject then learn the basic shape, and hone in closer another day....

Wednesday 17 January 2018

#285 'Winter Sky, The Trundle' 12x16"

A fast painting with the emphasis on the sky. Really enjoyed moving the brush strokes around on this big board. Working bigger allowed freer mark making and arm movement - it was fun!

The chalk path was tonally light and almost glowing in the low light of the winter sun. It receding away in the distance which helps the composition. 
Tonally the painting is mainly mid to dark tones with a few accentuating lights which
also helps the overall effect.
The sun washed out the colour on the right side with stronger colour and tone on the left.
The greens are very muted - greyed down with the complimentary colour of red. I used Scarlet and Burnt Sienna for this. 

Monday 15 January 2018

#284 'Beach Huts, West Wittering' 8x10"

I was drawn to this subject but wasn't sure if I could paint it! I enjoyed painting the huts that morning so I thought I'd try.
The reflections adding an extra element and interest - it had been a recent high tide and puddles were left.
I used my viewfinder to honed in to the colours and shapes I liked.

This is how I started blocking in the darks using a thined dark blue or brown - Ultramarine & Burnt Sienna. Remembering to repeat everything if it's reflected in the puddle.  

Beach huts are wonderful subject, but I didn't want them to look cute and twee if you know what I mean. So I painted them loosely - not too many straight lines or crisp edges.
The water reminded me a bit of snow quite light in tone and soft edges again, the shape was fun too.

It was the first day of using my brand new pochade, see below:
It's called an Alla Prima Pochade by Ben Haggett in America.
It's easy to set up, well built and nice to use but not comfortable yet, I used my previous pochade - Open Box M 150+ times, time will tell! 
I will do a blog on pochades and tripods soon....

Saturday 13 January 2018

#283 'Morning Walk, West Wittering' 8x14"

A lovely morning a couple of days ago with strong low winter sunshine.

When I paint I try and work on it as a whole without spending too much time on one area but there is often a part in a painting that I avoid or leave longer than other areas this time it was the beach huts. I wasn't sure how I'd tackle them..... I massed in the darks - squinting my eyes to see the shapes, making it either blue or brown. Painting them loosely and without regiment - matching how they were. Then being bold with the light tones on the fronts of the huts. Also picking up the light on the top of the groynes there's not much there but it makes a difference to the feeling of light.
The sky I found tricky as the sun was so bright I couldn't see it to determine the colours! But happy with how it turned out.

The lady looked good in her long coat and helped with the composition as there was a gap there, I put her and the dog in quickly in one basic dark colour, adding light and the shadow after.

I tried out my new pochade on this painting, the light was too glary to get a good location shot of it so will post it on the next painting which was also at the Wittering's.

Wednesday 10 January 2018

#282 'Bosham Channel' 8x18"

A gorgeous morning ones of those days when everything works out and even the painting! 
I went with painting friend Sarah Manolescue, the sun was low and contra jour with great sparkling light on the water.
These are the first stages see pic below:
I put in the light on the water and the sky first, as they would change the quickest. 
The sun on the water was so bright I looked up to try and observe whats there and looking back at the board and my eyes were dazzled and couldn't see the board surface or palette of colours! So when the sun went in it was good to see how it was looking :-)

The distant horizon line of land I put in quickly and roughly not too much detail. Just suggesting shapes especially the witches hat of Bosham Church.
The channel marker posts I tried to do in one sweep down of the brush, no fussing!
I enjoyed the bigger board size and used bigger brushes especially on the sky. 
The board - wood block, (see pic below) is different to my usual ones and gave a nice finish - it really makes a difference what surface you paint on to the end result.

Saturday 6 January 2018

#281 'Last Light, Seaford' 8x14"

This one I scraped off after nearly covering the board as I wasn't happy with it and liked the light better as the sun was setting - warm apricots.
It does seem to take a while to get to know a place, especially a new subject like white cliffs! 
Scrapping off gave a nice base to work over, which I did some on location but finished today in the studio. I realised I hadn't pitched the cliffs light enough so lifting them in tone meant I needed to lift everything else as well. I left some of the original painting showing through to give a more interesting finish.

Here is my palette of colours.
I took this pic after the sun had gone down.

Thursday 4 January 2018

#280 'Rock Study, Seaford' 8x10"

We had four days in East Sussex, a wonderful coastline with chalk cliffs and rocky outcrops. Having not painted white cliffs before they are a challenge! It's all about the tonal values, everything was tonally close together the sea sky and cliffs, not easy! Very paintable though I could keep painting this subject for a while.

I felt I needed to do a study honing in on the rocks to really observe them and not try and make a 'pretty painting' but just paint what's there!

Squinting my eyes I could see the sticky out rock was darker than the sky, so I put it in first then the sky around it, doing that I could judge the rock was too dark, so I adjusted it's tonal value. 

Because there was a lot of grey neutral colours I compared them to each other asking the question is this warmer or cooler e.g. The sky was cool and the rocks warmer.

When I was painting this Monet came to my mind as I could imagine him liking this scene.

Meanwhile the tide was coming in and the seas were getting bigger! I kept thinking I was going to get dumped on, each break of wave crashing - see pic:

A lady warned me and said if I stay in this spot I would get cut off by the tide. So that put a bit of injection into my painting to finish! I left my spot and about 10 waves later the whole area was engulfed in water, a close escape!