Thursday, 15 October 2009

Another Sea Stack

Recent works in watercolour have interrupted my trips to the beach, but true to form I found time to head out and select one of the many stacks along our coast as a subject. The result is below.

Returning to the same subject matter is providing me with a wealth of material from which I can make judgements about any development that is taking place in my painting and this latest example has given me lots to think about. There is a better range of values in this piece and areas like the sky and the foreground read much better than in some earlier works. I put this down to taking a greater degree of care in blocking in prior to beginning the main painting. It was particularly helpful in establishing the value range and foreground detail. Clearly another set of lessons learned.

Sea Stack, Souter - Oil on canvas board 12" x 10"

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Joseph Skipsey

If you have been reading regularly you will know that one of the exercises we did when working with Charles Reid was to use old photographs of people to hone our figurative work. Having brought that idea home I decided to start a little project whereby I would continue to practise in similar fashion but to use images that had some relationship with the local area. So off to the library to seek out source material. It was easily found, pictures galore of the working people of NorthEast England. As you can imagine mining features strongly in such imagery and I decided to start with something from that industry. I discovered a rather haunting image of Joseph Skipsey, known as the Pitman Poet, and used it for my first effort.

Joseph Skipsey, Pitman Poet - Watercolour on Not paper 14" x 11"

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Holiday Sketches

We've just returned from holiday, a week in Madeira, our first time on the island. It was a strange week in terms of weather. We had the expected sunshine and the first rains since February and boy does it rain when it comes. The combination of warmth and the wet ensured that conditions were humid. This is the first time I have tried painting watercolour in such humidity and found that it presents interesting problems. For a start the paper, once wet, seems to remain damp for a long time making it much more difficult to judge when to apply new washes. Almost everything becomes wet in wet and whilst that is great fun it isn't always necessarily what you want to achieve.

Enough of the gripes, I did manage to get a few sessions where I could sit down with my sketch book and run on some paint. The small watercolour box and a sketchbook were the only gear that I had with me but it is enough when time is tight and you have to fit it in amongst the travelling around to familiarise oneself with a new holiday venue.

So on with the pictures. All of the shots below are from the sketchbook and represent rapidly executed, unfinished pieces. Even though they aren't finished they do represent a much better memory of the experience than the inevitable photographs.

The first picture was painted across the double page spread to encompass the distant headland of Sao Laurenco. Raindrops provide some of the spatter evident in the sea and there are traces of paint transferred from one page to the other as it was rapidly closed to avoid the arriving storm.

Machico - Watercolour on Not paper

Another mixed day, some bright light, some cloud and rain but the anglers, like elsewhere in the world are not deterred by the weather.

Ribeira Brava - Watercolour on Not paper

At last a morning of sunshine and a trip out to the extreme Eastern end of the island. Fabulous cliff top scenery. Regular readers will know this to be a particular weakness of mine.

Porto Sao Laurenco - Watercolour on Not paper

The next picture shows a lady working at lifting vegetation left after cropping. In the background is one of the 'A' line houses typical of the area around Santana.

Santana - Watercolour on Not paper

As painting becomes increasingly important to me the challenge of ensuring that travel incorporates the opportunity to paint looms larger. Next year we intend taking a longer trip over an extended period and whilst carrying watercolour kit is not too difficult, I'm trying to get my head around the logistics of getting oil gear away with me as well. Anyone with bright ideas about the travel problems of oil painters would be welcome commentators on the blog.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Back to the Beach

Didn't have time to load this prior to spending a week away. Went off to the beach again and carried on with my knife experimentation. There are aspects of this that I like a lot and others that still need refinement, in particular the precise tonal relationships between different promontories and the intensity of hue in the sea. Nevertheless many of the values read true so I'd have to consider it a step in the right direction.

Seaham Stack - Oil on canvas board 12" x 10"