Sunday, 25 April 2010

First Plein Air of the year

Much as I love painting in the outdoors, since returning from our travels I've not been up to standing at the easel in the cold as the old back has been playing up so getting out in the last couple of days has been fun. Yesterday I headed up to the entrance to the Martindale Valley in the Lakes and stopped at a point with a view back along the lake.

As I remarked in an earlier post, getting a start again after a while away doesn't make it easy and this piece suffers from a lack of confidence and hurrying back for lunch before making the adjustments that it requires. So for better or worse here it is. It would be good if you feel able to point to ways to improve this.

Ullswater - Oil on canvas board 12" x 10"

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Source Material

A friend of mine asked if I would post the original photograph that I used as the source material for the watercolour in the last post. It comes from the sleeve of an old record cover.

Tommy Armstrong was a writer of songs that told wonderful stories and recorded remarkable events in the area that he spent his life. In fact that area is the one that I was brought up in, part of a family whose life experiences were interlinked with some of the events represented in the songs. The album was first issued 1965 and one of the artists involved, Tom Gilfellon, and his family have been family friends since I can remember. The album has been reissued on CD and I can't recommend it highly enough if you have any interest in the history and lives of folks in the Durham coalfield.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A less than Successful Return to Watercolour

At the present time I don't seem to be able to get much time for my painting, life has a habit of getting in the way. So, a brief opportunity to break out the watercolours was very welcome. However that doesn't necessarily mean that the time spent is going to leave one with a sense of satisfaction. This was one of those times.

The first image is a partner piece to my picture of Joseph Skipsey, posted a while ago. I have a real interest in some of the old photographs depicting the world inhabited by my grandparents and in particular those with a relationship to the Durham coalfield. This is an attempt at a well known picture of the famous Durham coalfield songsmith, Tommy Armstrong.

Why dissatisfied? Well for me the harsh edge to the shadow on the left cheek, the lack of real dark tone in the eye passage and the slipshod finishing at the bottom of the page detract from the overall effect. As I look at it the coat could have had a better treatment by keeping the paint fluid while trying to introduce a range of balanced colours. How would you have done it?

Tommy Armstrong - watercolour on Fabriano Artistico 14" x 11"

The second piece is based on a photograph taken on our recent trip to the States. In this one, whilst I have achieved one aim, that of creating credible recession, the detailing of the main bluff is crude and the shadow work across the piece is less than impressive.

Monument Valley - watercolour on Fabriano Artistico 14" x 11"

Lessons have been registered in line with the comments above, but for me the main lesson is to maintain a regular contact with the medium so that I approach each excursion with some recent experience to strengthen the technique. Preparation of materials is also important, I still find myself avoiding putting out fresh paint as often as I should. Hopefully, these lessons will not be so quickly forgotten as they were the last time I 'learned' them.