Saturday, 29 October 2011

Competition Answers

Thought I'd better post the answers to the competition I set a couple of weeks ago. There were only a couple of responses that showed a real familiarity with the pieces posted. One of them had almost all of them including their titles, but no one had them all. Consequently no prizes awarded. I've reposted the pictures with the names of the artists below. It would be a good little exercise to try and put a title to them all. No! I'd rather paint as well.

Thanks to those who were in touch with their efforts. Ian Wright made the best attempt and other than missing out one and not getting the photographs just about had everything else, including titles, correct. Well done Ian, not just a good artist but a knowledgeable student to boot.

Picture 1 - Edgar Degas

Picture 2 - Edgar Degas

Picture 3 - Andrew Wyeth

Picture 4 - Norman Rockwell

Picture 5 - Edward Hopper

Picture 6 - Edward Weston

Picture 7 - Georgia O'Keefe

Picture 8 - John Singer Sargent

Picture 9 - John Singer Sargent

Picture 10 - John Singer Sargent

Picture 11 - Albert Bierstadt

Picture 12 - Winslow Homer

Picture 13 - Winslow Homer

Picture 14 - Frederic Edwin Church

Picture 15 - Joseph Mallord William Turner

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

More Maine

As is my habit, when I'm out and about there is a watercolour sketch book and my trusty Craig Young Sketcher's Box with three Da Vinci travel brushes somewhere about my person. And the opportunities raised themselves one after another to collect a little rain water and work the paints.

In my last post there was a photograph of Owl's Head lighthouse. What I didn't say at the time was that by the time we reached it there was a howling gale and it was very difficult to find a surface to rest against so I was quite pleased to get anything down at all, but here it is.

Owl's Head Lighthouse - Watercolour on Not paper 12" x 8"

As mentioned in the previous post, Dan Corey and myself painted at Pemaquid Lighthouse and I had to return there with Sheila so that she could enjoy the spot and as she wandered the site I sneaked out the sketch book again.

Pemaquid Lighthouse - Watercolour on Not paper 12"x 8"

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Maine Escape

I've just got the chance to write a few notes and post a few pictures in relation to this wonderful place, Maine.

First of all, I must introduce a fabulous guy and brilliant artist, Dan Corey. If you haven't seen his work, get him Googled. I met Dan in cyberspace some time ago in the land of Wet Canvas as I started posting early attempts in oil and early plein air work. Dan chipped in with helpful and encouraging comments and I was extremely flattered that an artist of his talent would take the time and care to help a novice like myself. We've been in touch ever since and it was with some excitement that, having planned a trip to his part of the world, I was able to arrange a meeting.

It wasn't just a meeting. Dan had offered to take receipt of some art materials that I ordered from a couple of suppliers in the State. He also offered to loan me some gear to use whilst on his patch. Our meeting took place at the weekly meet of the Plein Air Painters of Maine, a friendly bunch of keen artists who were working on a farm site near Boothbay. It turned out to be a great day, much conversation, plenty of seeing the techniques used in this part of the world and then a long chatty lunch after the rains came. We arranged to meet a couple of days later to paint together at Pemaquid lighthouse.

Mick and Dan

After all it is the Fall so instead of lots of panoramic shots, here is the essence of the season. In truth this year has been less than the best for colour but it is still spectacular and well worth the trip.

The Fall

Lighthouses are a fascinating feature of the Maine coastline and it's difficult to travel anywhere without being drawn to see them in their exposed positions. They also make good subjects for painting.

Owl's Head Lighthouse

More of this one later.

Pemaquid Lighthouse

This fellow was to be the venue for our little painting jaunt. Up early and out to catch the best of the morning light.

Dan with his morning's work

The rocks below the lighthouse.
Pemaquid Point

I also got out the brushes, a new bunch from Utrecht, and splashed the oil about.

Pemaquid Lighthouse - Oil on canvas board 12" x 10"

Another fine morning gave me the opportunity to use up a little more of that oil stuff.

Ocean Point - Oil on canvas board 12" x 10"

I'm afraid that's all I have time for this evening, Lobster Dinner is calling.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A Competition for my Readers

Everyone should get across to the States and visit some of their wonderful museums and high on the list of any visitor should be the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Sheila and I had a day there yesterday, as well as the doing the Cheers pilgrimage, and I'd forgotten what a treasure house it is.

As well as a stunning exhibition of Degas works the permanent collection is one of the best in the world. Very strong on the great Europeans but fabulous on the variety of great Americans and it was those that I particularly wanted to see as many of them are ill represented in our European galleries. For example I'm only aware of one Church painting in Europe and that is in the National Gallery of Scotland and it's one of his best, a stunning picture of Niagara Falls. Another must - see.

I thought of spending a lot of time producing my response to these images but chasing our luggage around New England has curtailed blogging time so I thought a little competition wouldn't go amiss.

So here they are and the first reader to identify all of them wins the star prize, a little gift from myself. That should kill the interest.

Good luck.

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

Picture 4

Picture 5

Picture 6

Picture 7

Picture 8

Picture 9

Picture 10

Picture 11

Picture 12

Picture 13

Picture 14

Picture 15

Some real eye candy in that lot, eh?

Sunday, 16 October 2011

My Charles Reid Experience

It would be rude to leave the topic of my week in Cornwall with Charles Reid without showing a little of the work that I produced during the week. I've selected three pieces that are representative of my work during the sessions.

The first piece is my working of the still life set up that Charles had used in his morning demonstration. I'm rather sorry that I didn't take development photographs as I went so that you could see the process that I followed. Apologies. Charles on his walks around the room commented that I didn't have the balance of soft and hard edges right in the flowers. He then took a page in my sketch book and demonstrated what he meant with a couple of flourishes of the brush. I should have asked him to sign it. He did a few of these personal little demonstrations during the week but he never makes a mark on anyone's painting.

Still Life Crantock - Watercolour on Not paper 16" x 12"

The next piece was done on the first day from one of the old photographs owned by the hotel and depicts one of the life boat crew. I have mixed feelings about this one. Drawing inadequacies and poor colour selection haven't given the best result here. It's a subject worth returning to.

Crantock Life Boat Crew - Watercolour on Not paper 16" x 12"

The last piece is an interesting one for me. Charles encourages people to paint along with him as he does his demonstrations although only a handful take on the challenge and I'd decided that sometime during the week I would have a go. The picture below was done in my sketch book as Charles produced his portrait of Perry. My own larger portrait that I did later in the day was not as successful as this one. Is there a message there somewhere?

Perry - Watercolour on Not paper 10" x 8"

As you can gather the week in Crantock has had a real impact on me and I now have for myself a number of challenges to improve my watercolour technique. Not least is the enormous challenge of getting the consistency of my paint mix right time after time. You'll be able to follow my progress in that over the next few weeks as I try to depict my surroundings in Maine over the next fortnight. That is if the fog clears over Heathrow and I make my flight to Boston. You receive this early posting as a result of flight delays at Newcastle Airport.

Friday, 14 October 2011

The Crantock Team

The last week has been fascinating not only because we've been inspired and taught by one of the modern masters of watercolour but because of all the other elements that go to make a memorable experience.

The smooth running of an event of this kind relies on all of the preparation that takes place before hand and for that we all have the estimable Jane Duke to thank. She does all of the thankless tasks so well and is always available to assist from the day she first advertises the event till its conclusion. Thanks Jane.

The next person to mention is the 'Queen' herself, Judy, or Mrs. Reid as she is sometimes known. Judy is a very special lady who has the knack of making everything work around Charles so he can concentrate on his painting and his teaching. She does this by orchestrating proceedings in such a way that every participant has fair access to the expertise of Charles. All of this she does with an engaging sense of humour and unfailing generosity.

The Regal Wave

Most of the rest of this post will be devoted to showing off the lovely bunch of people that congregated to work with Charles. It is a tribute to the quality of the experience that a number of these are people who have worked with Charles on a number of occasions. Even more impressive is the fact that a number of them are also professional artists.

Apologies to those about whom I've got scant biographical details but rest assured that I have nothing but happy memories of you all.

Paul and Jennifer (The Swansea Stopper)

Paul, a Home Counties lad, now living in Cornwall producing great images. Jennifer an accomplished painter whose husband made some interesting ale discoveries on this trip.

Gilles and Jo with Lynne.

Gilles is a fabulous artist from Crolles in France and his workbooks are a visual delight. Jo is a North Easterner on missionary duty in the South. Lynne appears below.


A talented young artist who received a prestigious award for a work of hers while she was attending the course. She also had an educational epiphany as she discovered the works of Warren Zevon and Ry Cooder while travelling with two ageing hippies.


A serious artist currently working in Cornwall. She has worked with Charles before and is always delightful company.


Another long term fan of Charles who makes her sensitive images in Jersey


Chomolungma, Mother Goddess of the Earth. Latifa has attended a number of Charles' courses and is exceptional at looking after everyone. Great to see her again.
Jenny and Peter.

Peter is my painting buddy from the other end of the country who shares a series of monthly challenges with me, (when I'm getting time to paint) and Jenny is his wife. They kindly looked after me on my lengthy journey to Cornwall. Thanks to you both for your kindness.

Brenda and Jane

Brenda is a first time student with Charles. It was great to see her rise above her initial apprehension with very high quality work. It got even better when she discovered the efficacy of using decent sable brushes.

Jane and her husband, Ian are long term friends of Charles and are both accomplished artists. Not to mention the fact that they have one of the finer sock collections.

Jane Duke and Ian

Jane, it is, who makes it all possible. Without her we'd not have the smooth organisation and effective administration. On top of that she's a well regarded artist with a flourishing career.
Ian is a real original as an artist, highly skilled with a real sense of humour that translates into wonderful whimsical works.


A first timer from Yorkshire who brought her husband to model for the rest of us. He's also a big Richard Thompson fan. Frances is a fine painter.


A fine artist from New York who I was meeting for the second time. It's always a surprise to see how far people will travel to work with Charles.


My Blues Brother for the week. A talented illustrator who has worked in Paris for the last ten years. He originally hails from the US. We had a lot of laughs and shared a lot of music.


The Keeper of the Duck. Doreen is a long term friend of the Reids having organised their first trips to England. Those familiar with the still life work of Charles will know that duck decoys make regular appearances. In England they usually appear from Doreen's handbag.

A Charles Reid course is an experience and I feel privileged to have attended two of these events. Charles is going to reduce the number of teaching engagements that he does and the opportunities to work with him will diminish. There is an intensity to the work and study that lifts these courses way beyond the usual course/ holiday that many courses appear to be. It is no surprise that many professional artists value the chance to hone their skills with Charles. The standard of the artists in Crantock was very high and I felt really stretched for the whole week. Hopefully, I can build on the lessons learned in the next few weeks.