A Brush with Impressionism

Still Life Impressionism

During the very dark days of lockdown, when restrictions were very tight and you couldn’t go out, we had various zoom meetings. One was within the family including family members living in Spain, one of the advantages of zoom, and centred round art, with one person giving the others a specific task and nominating an artist as their influence

I chose a well-known local artist who produces lovely work verging on Cubism, which is post-Impressionism I know. I produced the above, which is a feeble attempt to emulate her style, which I tried to remember from attending one of her demos once. As for the famous artist, the finished work reminded me of, I could only think of Picasso or even Braque when they did those cubist still lives

As the image emerged I could see how Cubism developed. Not that I would have developed Cubism, I’m not clever enough, but I could see how others did

The local artist I mentioned whose name is Liz Seward, I don’t imagine she would mind being mentioned, I remember started with broad bands of vertical colours over the original drawing. From there it was a case of painting the negative shapes, and that’s all I remember. A finished image seemed to emerge, and I seem to remember being struck by wonderful colours being produced. The result of so many glazes I imagine

I have posted about my still life here, only because some people seemed to like it. These same people recommended I include it in my very recently redesigned web site which I have done and we’ll judge the response if any. Do I like it? Sometimes and sometimes not. Easy to be drawn by the colours

My grandchildren, incidentally, produced some stunning work, and I may well post about them at a later date. I think I should but that is for the future

Aubrey Beardsley Exhibition at Tate Britain

Tate reopened

Just as an interim, I will mention that we went to this exhibition today. I am still working on Horses in the Snow slowly. It is coming along just fine but taking longer than I thought

It was lovely to go to a gallery again after all these weeks of closure. Social distancing worked well, if anything I preferred it as you could see the pictures. We drove in and traffic was light both ways and parking was easy.

Unbeknown to me, the London Congestion Charge had been extended to cover the week-end as well. It used to be Monday to Friday only which was one of the reasons that we drove up on a Saturday. Thanks to someone tipping me off, I had time to open an account Also you can still park for free outside the gallery at the weekend. No doubt that will alter in due course

The exhibition is excellent for anyone near enough to go. Aubrey Beardsley is an amazing character. He contracted TB at the age of 7, so he knew he would have a short life, and worked to compensate. He left behind something like 1000 drawings

He worked for Oscar Wilde illustrating Wilde’s opera Salome, and also later edited the prestigious Yellow Book. His connection with Wilde proved his undoing sadly. Public anger as Wilde’s court case shocked the nation, spilled over onto Beardsley. His office was broken into by the mob, and he was reluctantly sacked. He moved to Dieppe, and continued his life in France. He died in Menton on the Riviera. at the age of 25, with his mother and sister at his side

He had also produced pornographic work which he later regretted. He did ask his publisher to destroy this work, but it never was, sadly as so often he is associated with pornography. Some of this work is displayed in a separate room, so viewing is optional

The Yellow Book

Wonderful draftsmanship, however you view the man

Whilst writing, my revised website still under the domain name of davidharmerwatercolour.co.uk, has now gone live. It is a tremendous improvement or so I believe, and also meets these new requirements from the likes of Google and others. We hope for great things

Horses in the Snow : the drawing

I am creating an assemblage or collection of images hopefully to create one long painting which will have movement, and with a bit of luck, some drama and excitement. That is the plan and we shall see how it unfolds

For the moment, I have just completed the tonal drawing to give myself a guide for the finished painting. The challenge too will be giving the impression of snow on white paper

I did do an impression of a cat in deep snow which seemed to work ok. This horse painting will be a lot more involved, but should be entertaining.

I’ll come back when I’ve done more

Padstow Harbour Painting Completed

This is the completed painting of Padstow Harbour in Cornwall, a very well known and popular place. It is a fishing port and consequently well known for good sea food restaurants. The well known Rick Stein comes from Padstow and has his own restaurants here, not to mention a very good fish and chip shop, and I believe he also had his own cookery school where he trained people in the fine art of good cuisine. Some years though since I have been here, and my information may be a little old.

The reference shots for this painting go back a few years, and I may have mentioned already that I have painted this view before but some years ago. I sold it so can’t compare and in those days was a bit careless about photographing my work. As I remember though this painting is very different to that one

I used a different palette for one thing. Not long ago I bought a new paintbox called Graphitint by Derwent, and I rather like them. I am not here to advertise and I haven’t been asked to, but I used some of these colours on the buildings around the quayside. What these paints do, and there are a dozen of them, different shades, is to granulate, so in other words, the pigment doesn’t dissolve completely but hangs in the water. When the water dries the pigment stays on the paper, usually in the tooth of the surface, and provides a sort of gritty effect. That may not sound attractive the way I’ve described it, but it works very well for stonework on buildings. The colours are a little muted but I don’t mind that. Other people can judge for themselves.

Otherwise quite a time consuming painting, working on the boats, which is quite enjoyable for a while, and then I need to rest. The reflections took a long time building up the depth of colour, and eventually I needed some coloured chalk for the very deep shades

Anyway the painting is finished. It will be in time for my redesigned web site, which I am looking forward to seeing one day

Now perhaps a short break from painting whilst I consider my next subject

Partway through the painting of Padstow Harbour

The Under Painting

This is the stage that I have reached so far, namely the under painting on which hopefully to build

I have chosen a different colourway to anything I have used before, mainly as an experiment and perhaps hopefully to learn something. If it doesn’t work then I may have wasted a painting. I did this painting between 15 and 20 years ago, and just used the local colours. This time I wanted to inject some sunshine and maybe some mood into the painting. The photographs if you remember my last post, were taken in flat light, so no shadows and frankly rather dull

I used a base coat involving a mix of phthalo blue and viridian for a green/blue which I used for the sky and also for the sea in the foreground. I moved from sky colour to a peach for which I mixed orange and yellow and added rose. I quite liked that colour for a change. The sky moved to peach for buildings and boats and then back to sky colour for foreground sea. Remember I haven’t done this before, so could turn out badly

I have started to work on some of the buildings using blue with burnt sienna plus a dab of raw sienna to look like lichen on the roof. I have also drawn in some masts which I missed when I did the initial drawing

That is as far as I am so far. Other things demanding my attention as usual, but I quite like doing a little at a time. I may have said that I am completely overhauling my website which is time consuming but I think will be good when it is done. More of that another time

Painting something again

Padstow Harbour

I sometimes have to stop and think what to paint next. Often I have a list in my head, but when i come to the end of that, then I have to think of what I need in my website

One of my lockdown tasks has been to sort through many years of reference photographs. So many years that many of them were turned into prints rather than being stored more conveniently on the PC. The collage above of Padstow Harbour is a typical example

I painted from this probably ten years ago. I have been to Padstow in Cornwall on several occasions, and I like the harbour there very much indeed. I have painted several different shots, and I am pleased to say that they proved popular. The painting from the view above, sold on its first showing and after that I moved on to other things.

Looking through these photographs reminded me of it, and I thought I would like to tackle this shot again, but of course differently. My style has changed between then and now, hopefully for the better. Not necessarily so, as sometimes I look back at old paintings, and wonder how I got a particular result, and could I do it again

On this occasion, I am going to do a similar composition, but work the changes hopefully with different colour combinations. Last time, as I remember I did local colour which was fine, but now I might try something a little more ambitious. I needn’t tell anyone if it fails

I shall start on some sketchwork soon and after that we’ll see what happens

The Ostrich Family finished painting

Family of Ostrich

Some years ago we were in South Africa on a game reserve, and met these birds walking unhurriedly along the track. They stayed on the track just in front of our vehicle for quite a long time and refused to budge. I think the female was holding us back so that we didn’t mow down her chicks!

We didn’t mind as this was a splendid photo opportunity, and we took full advantage.

I said that I would paint them one day and now finally I have. The subject seemed simple enough and yet I found this painting to be one of the trickiest i have done for a long time. I think the colours may have had something to do with it. There was such a lot of green, and not very exciting green either. There was no other colour to give relief

Ostrich are magnificent birds, and interesting to draw. When it comes to painting them, then it is a different matter, especially when painting the female. I consulted references about the right colour to use for the female’s plumage, and the consensus was taupe. Taupe you will know, is beige running into grey. Not exciting but not something I could change

Added to that the light was flat and no shadows to speak of. Still not to worry, the painting is complete, and I have done what I set out to do. But an object lesson learned, which is to avoid subjects with little colour interest as they will disappoint

The Ostrich Family

Ostrich Family

One lockdown task that I have been getting to grips with, has been sorting out and rationalising my burgeoning collection of reference pictures

About seven or eight years ago, we made a trip to South Africa which was amazing. About a week was spent on safari, followed by a long weekend in Cape Town

This shot, just one of many, shows an ostrich family just ahead of our truck, and being totally disinclined to move out of the way. I think the mother bird was deliberately preventing our vehicle from running over her young. Nobody was worried of course, as this was such a fantastic photo opportunity and went on for quite a long time

A long time ago, I thought I would paint this but never did. Now I have been reminded and have made a start with the drawing. Problems would be with colours, I think. Weather was not particularly good when we were there, with dull skies and proportionately subdued colour. I will have to try and inject a little sunshine somehow, although not sure how

I have done the initial sketch and will come back later

Initial Sketch

Baguettes

Baguettes

I quite like doing these narrative paintings from time to time. This one I have done in a vignette style, again something I do for a change. In some ways this style takes less time, as I don’t have to tape up, and without big expanse of sky or sea, there are no big washes to worry about.

This was not done from one of my reference photos, and my thanks and acknowledgements go to an unknown photographer whom I could not find. This painting is not a copy of but was inspired by a photograph.

This is pure nostalgia in one sense. I don’t know of a visitor to France who didn’t enjoy that early morning trip to the boulangerie for the fresh bread.

In England we don’t have that culture. Our bread is homogenised and comes plastic wrapped, although some of our supermarkets are now baking on site, and producing something worth eating. But we still don’t go for it early morning when it is fresh and still warm

This is Paris obviously. The location was not marked, but looks like Montmartre, with those steep steps. Again a place much visited and much painted.

I changed the background considerably. I have lengthened the perspective so that the Eiffel Tower looks much further away. The buildings are deliberately out of focus, so that we concentrate on the lady in the foreground. We look at her with great compassion as she struggles homeward up that steep slope, heavily laden. I see her almost pushing that basket with her knee, to take some of that strain off her arm.

This painting is smaller than my usual, this time about 30×25 centimetres. I found it a pleasant change to do. At the moment,thanks to lockdown I am sorting and consolidating my reference photographs, so who knows may find more of this type

Istanbul : Misty Painting of Sultan Ahmed Mosque

Misty Morning in Istanbul

This was by way of an exercise. I’ve used someone else’s photograph as a basis for this painting, so unlikely to use the finished result, unless I can get permission

I wanted to try and achieve this foggy sort of image. The mosque in the background is hardly visible. Until you get to the figure in the foreground, shapes are almost unrecognisable. The clever bit would be to get the feeling that the mist is moving towards you. Whether that has been achieved I will let others judge

The painting did not photograph well. There are some brush marks showing in the foreground which you don’t get with the original

Otherwise an interesting exercise