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"