Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Painting No 11 - View from our Back Door

Well some you win and some you lose.  This started out as my first plein aire painting (from the safety of my back garden).  I managed to get the sky, house and main bushes done in about 20 minutes when I received a long phone call.  At the end of the call the sun had gone and it was freezing.  So, I decamped to indoors which is where it all went downhill.    

Using a photo of the scene I'd taken when the lighting was just right I continued to finish the painting.  Maybe the subject matter was too fiddly but I reckon I'm still unable to back off from the detail.  I think I'd lost interest in the end and rushed off the left hand side of the painting. The end result you can see above.

Back to the drawing board.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Painting No 10 - Autumn Flames on Ivinghoe Beacon

Oil on canvas board, 8" x 10".

This was a quick one (2-3 hours) based on a photograph I took last week while walking the dog. I was struck by the gorgeous yellow trees (a cluster of three small silver birch) in an otherwise drab landscape.

I used a canvas on which I'd attempted a scene of frost and mist last year sometime. I gave that up as a bad job.

I found this one interesting in terms of the composition as the hedge and pathway take the eye across to the left hand side. The trees help balance that and draw the eye back. This is demonstrated by the incomplete painting below without the trees.

Having put the tree in the picture still wasn't properly balanced so I added some figures (my daughter and dog) from another photograph.

I left the forground in a fairly crude state as I didn't want to overcook it. I'm pleased with the result although it may be a little weak at the bottom left.

I think I need to develop a more interesting signature.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Painting No 9 - First Steamer of the Morning, Ullswater

Oil on hardboard, 20"x 13"

Once again I'm attempting difficult lighting conditions. Still working from photographs, this one was very misty so I had to lift the background out of the haze a little by making the colours stronger. I had to redo the foremost hill after making it too orange but I quite like the overall effect now it's finished. I'll be sticking to brighter lights for the next few. I moved the steamer near to the centre to balance with the island.

This painting, for my friend Sally, is the first of, I hope, many many more of the Lake District in North West England. I aspire to become a mountain painter. Having said that these mountains are not typical of what I hope to do due to the hazy mist.

Ullswater is thought to be the lake by which William Wordsworth saw the daffodills that inspired the poem of the same name. Here's the first verse:

I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden Daffodils;
Beside the Lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Incidently this was written in Grasmere in 1804 the year before my great grandfather Joseph Wren was born in Grasmere. It's a small world.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Painting No 8 - Cape Byron

Oil on canvas board, 12"x 16"

Well I'm on a roll now. This one took four hours. It's from a photo taken by my second daughter, Lucy, while travelling in Australia. Cape Byron is the most easterly point in mainland Australia.

I really enjoyed this one. The sky was a pleasure to do. Simple gradations of white with a tiny touch of blue all the way up to cerulean blue. I tried to create the clouds by rubbing the blue away to expose the underlying white base but this was too weak so I painted them in with titanium white.

I like the smoothness of the sky and lighthouse next to the rough impressionistic cliffs and grass. Seems to work quite well.

The cliffs were tricky but in the end it came down to stepping back and checking the overall structure then every thing dropped into place. The grass was simply a case of making sure there were plenty of colours involved to ensure that it didn't look too flat.

I feel like progress is being made. Onto the next one.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Painting No 7 - Theo

Having spent a year on the previous painting this one took a few days. The subject is our recently departed cat Theo (we also had to let another cat Ruby go this year). The painting is for my youngest daughter Polly.

I found this one very enjoyable. I seem to have got the knack of painting wet on wet. The secret is to simply just keep painting. If the paint doesn't stick then try thinning it out a bit. Also, more pleased with the style. Whilst it's still a bit tight I felt a lot more confident just slapping the paint on.

I kept the background extremely simple making the top dark to emphasise the highlights aroung Theo's ears and back. Seems to have worked.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Painting No 6 - Windgather

Well, this one took some time. It has been resting on my easel for about a year. Just didn't get time with working away from home. Ironically the scene is near where I was staying during the week. It is Windgather Rocks which are on the Derbyshire - Cheshire border. This was my running area while staying at Whaley Bridge. The hill in the background is Whaley Moor.

I finally got round to finishing it off today. Another irony is that it's the day after my running club (Goyt Valley Striders) held the Windgather fell race.

It felt good to add the finer detail and make it come to life. It's amazing how a few simple lines and a bit of highlighting and shadow (e.g. fence posts) can improve things. I kept the colours constrained to a few basic colours but was fairly free in their use across the whole painting. I'm fairly pleased with the final result but once again the paint is a bit thin and I made hard work of the rocks.

I'm a big fan of dry stone walls and there's one peeping over the bottom of the picture. Very pleased with this. They'll make more of an appearance in my future pictures.

Good to be back at the easel.