Thursday, 30 April 2009

Trip to Ullswater

This week we set off to our caravan in the Lakes for a few days away and some fresh air. Whilst the weather was a little mixed it gave us the opportunity to relax and catch up on a list of things that we wanted to do, we even managed an evening at the cinema. Best of all I was able to get out and paint.

The first picture here is the set up I have for working out doors. Sheila bought me an Open Box M kit for a Christmas present and I love it. The palette attaches to an old photographic tripod that was picking up dust in a cupboard and the whole thing is easy to set up in the field. The only disadvantage for us in England is the ridiculous cost of getting the things shipped over.

Plein Air set up alongside Ullswater

The picture below is of the oil sketch made on the day the previous photograph was shot. Weather conditions were mostly overcast with occasional breaks in the cloud producing some sun.

Ullswater - Oil on canvas board 12" x 10"

This trip coincided with an exhibition by one of our favourite artists, Phil Hobbs. Phil is a very talented watercolourist who paints in traditional fashion with wonderful draughtsmanship and fabulous control of the medium. He has a small gallery in Ambleside and it is an absolute 'must' for anyone who finds themselves in that small town. If you can't visit in person get on to his website at and feast your eyes at the skill of the man. I've included three examples of what has been available in the recent show.

Salute from the Grand Canal - P. L. Hobbs

Restoring Dignity, San Trovaso - P. L. Hobbs

Wrapper - P. L. Hobbs

Monday, 20 April 2009

Back to the Brush

Yesterday I promised myself that I would get out the brushes again and decided that I'd head for my favourite stretch of coast near Souter lighthouse. The variety of rocks and cliffs along this part of the coast is challenging territory in more ways than one, not least because of the ever changing light. I try to make an early decision about light direction and shadow and incorporate that into my underpainting so that it informs the rest of the painting. This is more difficult than it sounds, particularly when the light flattens and contrasting values become difficult to see.

Another lesson learned today is that a fortnight without painting doesn't make it easy to start again and I took a little time to get into the process and didn't achieve either fluency or decent value placement. The best I can say is that I'm back smelling of linseed and troubling the canvas again.

Souter - Oil on canvas board 10"x8"

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Having a rest

Jed - Watercolour on Not paper 12" x 10"

The past couple of weeks have been a break away from home and the brushes. Although, I did manage to pack sketch books and a small watercolour block that have given me some source material for the next few weeks. Watch this space. Now that I'm back home I'll be able to get out with my old school friend Jed, pictured above. He is a life long artist and musician and we have managed to keep in touch throughout our days since school. Just recently we decided that it was about time we did a little relaxed painting together and have had a couple of very pleasant sessions. Further sessions and a gallery excursion are now in the pipeline along with some tentative interest from another couple of old friends.

It's about time that I publicised an idea that I picked up from my cyber friend, Dan. He prompted me with an idea that he had found on the site of another artist, 'PIF'.

Let me explain: PIF stands for Pay It Forward and is an interesting way to be in contact with other like minded artists.

The rules are simple: "I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog."When you leave your comment, please also do one of two things: leave your postal address or e-mail it to me.This offer expires one year (365 days) from the post date, on Apr. 19, 2010.

I look forward to seeing what happens with this.

Till next time when I hope to have worn out some bristles.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

New beginnings and old favourite

Another mixed bunch. Sheila and I went over to the Lake District for a few days respite from family weddings, baptisms and other events. I managed to sneak in the painting tackle and even got out to apply brush to paper or canvas. Unfortunately the paint time that I managed coincided with the worst light conditions so these are a little flat but do provide the basis, along with photographs, for further paintings. The first is a page from my watercolour sketch book and the second a small canvas panel. Both of these completed en plein air.

Aira Force - Watercolour on Not paper 12"x 10"

Eagle Crag - Oil on canvas panel 10" x 8"

Back home to my Norfolk piece that is starting to grow on me. It has been the source of much learning, particularly about the use of mediums to layer paint and produce luminosity. In the flesh there are some interesting passages where lower layers of colour seem to glow through the upper layer. I think that the piece is about finished, certainly for the time being and I will put it aside for a while.

Norfolk Creeks - Oil on stretched canvas 40" x 30"