Painting Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Not inspired by the coronation, because I have looked at this amazing abbey for some time, as a possible painting. A lot of architectural detail which I love to have a go at. I work by allusion. I could not reproduce all the detail exactly, especially with a brush. I put in some detail, some shading and get the colour as close as possible to the original stonework, which is a pinky grey colour, and this seems to work. I sometimes think that the eye of the neholder finishes off the image and fills in the gaps that I have left.

I sorted through various photographic references. I had plenty to choose from. Part of the facade was obscured by two buses and other traffic. There is a column of pink granite in front of the abbey which I felt was in the way, so just left it out. I took out one bus and moved the other one as far left as I could manage, and painted in the red livery that you expect of a London bus. As far as I could see, this is one of the new Routemasters. I am not an expert. I just eclipsed the abbey with the bus, just to show they belonged in the same picture, not placed together artificially. I felt they worked together. I echoed the red with pedestrians in different parts of the composition.

St James Palace on the left I put in heavy shadow, much heavier than the photograph reference. I liked the effect. The spotlight was now on the abbey. The tower of the Houses of Parliament I painted in very pale violet. The image faded away, giving an impression of distance.

I felt satisfied with the composition. The facade of the abbey needed some work. I sharpened some of the detail on tracery, and put extra shadow in to let the eye see where everything was. I don’t do much more than that. The allusion is complete. The eye of the viewer can fill in what is missing

The painting is finished . I would have preferred not to introduce green but there was a tree which couldn’t be left out. This painting will be shown next month in Chichester where I have been invited by a gallery to take part in an exhibition. So a new area which I am looking forward to.

Arundel Castle in Sussex

A view of a mistry Arundel castle across the River Arun

Probably one of the best-known castles along the south coast, Arundel castle is ancient but largely restored in the c19.

Arundel is the seat of the Norfolks, who would have moved here from Framlingham during the c16. A family with close association with the monarchy, their fortunes rose and fell throughout history.

In 1485, at the battle of Bosworth, they were on the losing side, and lost the Norfolk title. They reverted to the earldom of Surrey.

In 1513, they regained their title of Dukes of Norfolk, after defeating a Scottish Army at Flodden Field in Northumberland. The Scots had invaded England after Henry VIII had invaded France. Catherine of Aragon had despatched the Earl of Surrey northwards to meet the Scottish Threat. After an ingenious manoeuvre whereby the English worked their way round the Scottish position during the night, they approached the Scottish Army from the north, whilst the Scots were entrenched facing south

The result was a massive slaughter of the Scottish nobility including the king James IV, whose body was taken to London and put on show. Scottish losses were about 30,000

The Earl of Surrey was restored to his old title of Duke of Norfolk.

The Norfolks were and still are the leading Catholic family in the land. Their fortunes changed with the religious struggles in the 16c

Today they are often in charge of large events like coronations, and doubtless will be this year too

Two Camargue Stallions

Firstly I am indebted to Wendy Hodgkins Corniquet for her excellent reference photograph

I find it hard to resist Camargue horses and when I saw this picture, I felt that it would work well as a painting

The only thing I changed was the background. The photograph had a background more like a sunset, which I have changed to something plainer. I felt that concentrated more on the horses.

Camargue horses as you know, run wild in the wetlands in the Rhone estuary. They are always white, which adds to their impact as a herd, especially galloping through water.

I have painted them many times, as featured on my web site

Two Langstone Swans

I am grateful to Vicky Stovell of Smiley Sunshine Photography for the use of her amazing photograph as a reference

I was intrigued by the photograph, not just for the composition bu also for the effects of the colours, which I hope that I have done some justice to. Yet another superb sunrise over the sea photograph to work to, yet challenging whilst exhilarating

The colours seemed to go in bands. Deep yellows and pinks in the lower sky beneath the blue, which are then repeated in reverse order through the horizon and into the sea, finishing with blue around the swans as we get into shadow.

The pebbles were time consuming. There were a variety of colours amongst the stones, blues and browns which I have tried to pick out, whilst at the same time, subduing the effect slightly so as not to compete with the detail of the birds. Something of a balancing act. Have I been successful. I will let others judge

More Horses in the Wetlands

I have trieed a different image and with it a different style

I was intrigued by this image, having decided in my mind to give horses a rest for a while. I was struck by the simplicity of the subject, and wanted to capture that. Detail has been kept to a minimum. Despite the activity, the horses seem calm. The water is churned up, yet the painting gives a feeling of peace

I think this is a painting that you can look at for quite a long time.

Others may disagree which is fair comment

Horse and Rider

I would first like to acknowledge with thanks Rebecca Photography on Pixabay who kindly allowed me to use her reference photograph, when preparing this watercolour painting

I like, as many will know, painting horses and horses in water. This image intrigued me and presented problems from the start. Horse and rider were a complete silhouette. So? Well, there were no details to help me with the drawing or very few at least. It was difficult, if nigh impossible to check my measurements as I proceeded with the drawing. Likewise the rider, which I don’t normally include but they were the same image. They could not be separated. If you have ridden horses, and I have a little when I was younger, you will know that you have to adopt certain attitudes or body shapes, otherwise you will just fall off. Legs must be in the right place for example. You can’t see the legs in this image so what to do?

I ended up doing a separate drawing of the horse with rider showing her legs and stirrups. I had to match the correct leg position with the rest of her body. That took me some time. It was quite a long time of experimentation, before I was ready to paint. Sky and water were comparatively straightforward in comparison. I had to give horse and rider two coats of burnt umber before I had a perfect silhouette.

I must have done something right. The painting sold on its first announcement

I would have liked her for my current show at Denbies Wine Estate but you can’t have everything, and anyway you can only sell a painting once

I hope you enjoy looking and reading my blog

The Dreaming Spires of Oxford

The Dreaming Spires of Oxford

Our grandson went up to Oxford about a year ago. He sent us a postcard during his first term. The view was of the dreaming spires which was an ideal picture for painting. All those old favourites, Tom Tower and the Ratcliffe Camera plus a few that I’ve forgotten

A tremendous amount of national history took place in Oxford. The university is one of the four oldest in Europe, and I believe that Merton is the oldest college, although happy to be corrected on that score. I haven’t been there for years, unfortunately. I remember in the cathedral, there is the notch in the wall which supported the dais on which Cranmer sat during his trial.There was only one outcome to this trial. He was going to burn. Queen Mary had already decided. She hated him for the way that he had treated her mother, Catherine of Aragon in the past. And, of course, burn he did, and the spot is still marked.

During the Civil War that followed about a century later, Oxford was the seat of the King and the Royalist Party. London had declared for Parliament.

In this painting, I struggled to capture the soft light on the honey-coloured stone, and hopefully a quiet peaceful atmosphere. Others may judge me on that score

I haven’t shown this painting publicly yet. My first opportunity is at the end of this month, when I show with the Village Artist at Denbies Wine Estate near Dorking, Surrey. They have been kind in the past, so we shall have to see what the reaction is.

Farewell to an old friend

Autumn Swans

I painted Autumn Swans about ten years ago. A breeding pair nest most years on the Basingstoke Canal, which runs through our village,and bring up their family. I have painted them often, sometimes with their brood of cygnets and sometimes before they are hatched. This pair are foraging on the leaves that have fallen on the canal water. Their beaks are tricky to draw and get right. They are shovel shaped for sifting through mud. So often it is easy to draw them pointed which is wrong

The canal water at this time of year is brown, as their is no reflection. You just look through and see the muddy bottom. Deads leaves float on the surface, gradually sinking. The white of the swans is the plain paper, with some blue shadow and also a little raw sienna, as these birds are not pristine

I have another swan picture ion my website, which shows the cygnets as well as mother swan

This painting finally found its new owner a few days ago. Paintings can sometimes wait a long time for the right person. The new owner is delighted and so am I. At the same time, I shall miss these swans, part of my life for a long time, but it is right for them to go, and fly the nest

Local Church in Morning Light

Pirbright Church in Early Morning

This is one of our local churches in the village of Pirbright, Surrey. In the grave yard is buried Henry Morton Stanley, the explorer who found Livingstone, and uttered the immortal phrase “Doctor Livingstone I presume”

I have painted this church a few times in all seasons and these have always proven popular locally. What to do, to do something differently? Always a problem, especially heading for a local exhibition, as I am in December. I have chosen an early morning light which sometimes bathes everything with a red light. I have been cautious with the colour , perhaps too much. \i could have used a dilute wash of Permanent Rose over the tree trunks which would have made them pop, as the word seems to be.

I used four colours in this painting. Quinacradone Gold with a slight Vermillion tinge to it for background, Burnt Sienna with vermillion mix and for the very dark shades , Transparent Brown again with a tinge of the red.

The painting is on display at the moment. The art club have taken over the old post office in the centre of the village which will be very helpful as a permanent exhibition

We shall see. We shall get opinions if nothing else

Sunset Horses in the Wetlands

Horses galloping through water in the sunset

I never tire of looking back to our visit to the Camargue, where tributaries of the Rhone flow into the Mediterranean sea. This wetland area is famous for its wildlife, flamingos which breed here in possibly their only breeding ground in Europe, bulls which are bred for fighting, and, of course, the famous white horses which run wild throughout the area. They are magnificent to watch

I have painted them before. Always a delight. I hope you enjoy looking at this painting. As far as I remember I have only used two watercolours, Cobalt Blue and Vermillion which work well together as a sunset effect.