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.

Istanbul Waterfront

The busy waterfront in Istanbul

I love Istanbul, although we haven’t been there for some years, and maybe won’t get back . We have made three or four separate visits to Turkey, and most included Istanbul. Many wonderful things to see there of course, but one of the most enjoyable, was our trip along the Bosphorus. There are so many sights on this stretch of water, and the ferries crisscrossing the water are certainly one of them. I should remember the name of the mosque in the background. I think it was the one devoted to Suleiman the Magnificent Let’s hope I’m right

For this painting, I used a simple palette of blues and orange reds. I made the city background hazy and put more detail into the boats. As usual the photograph does no justice to the painting.

I mixed Cobalt and Phthalo Blue for the sky and for the water. I used various reddish colours for the buildings ranging from Burnt Sienna to Orange to Cadmium Red. Blue works well for the shadows on the buildings. I kept the buildings including the mosque hazy and soft.The boats I painted in sharper detail.I used watercolour pencils for the underdrawing and then went over the whole thing with clean water and let the picture dry hard. The result was a soft outline ready to paint but avoiding pencil lines. The result looks as though I have painted with a brush, which I am not good at.

This will go on show at Denbies Wine Estate in September

Southsea Pier Sunrise in Watercolour

Sunrise over South Parade Pier in Southsea

A favourite place from my childhood. We were taken there and allowed to play on the gaming machines, which were not very sophisticated in those days. I remember putting in one old penny which was the pre-decimal currency, so value today, one half of a new penny. The aim was to flick a ball bearing round at speed and see where it landed, hopefully in a slot which gave you a payback. As I say, extremely unsophisticated

This painting relates to the reference photograph which I posted last time, which I was kindly allowed to use by Vicky Stovell of Smiley Sunshine Photography.

I used few colours. Cadmium Orange, Ultramarine Violet, Dark Mauve and Cobalt Blue. I combined the blue and the violet for the sky as well as the wet sand at the bottom of the picture. The uprights for the pier were in deep, deep shadow so i used the dark mauve, instead of black which I avoid where possible.

In order to get the bright sun image, I held a tissue in place with one finger, and then applied the first wash. There are probably better ways of getting that result, but that was the best I could think pf at the time

This painting will be going in my September exhibition at Denbies Wine Estate, so hopefully will freshen up the collection

I have another Istanbul painting in preparation so will post that at a later date

Sunset Over South Parade Pier, Southsea

This photograph of South Parade Pier in Southsea, Hants is a picture I intend to try next in watercolour. It will be interesting trying to capture those bright colours in watercolour paint, and how successful that will be is yet to be seen

So far I have done the drawing which took quite some time, and followed that up with first and second washes. I have uses a mix of cobalt blue and violet for the outer sky and for the lower part of the picture. Cadmium orange for the sunlit sky and reflections with some permanent rose. The orange works well but still the blue/violet needs beefing up. How to do one without the other though? I have managed to block out the bright white sun, so far and will see how that works on the finished painting

I am indebted to Vicky Stovell of Smiley Sunshine Photography for giving me permission to use her fantastic photograph as a reference for a painting

This pier is part pf my childhood. My parents used to take us kids on the pier to play the fruit machines which weren’t called that in those days, just a ballbearing that whizzed round and hopefully went in a slot that gave you a small payout. Fond memories too of going to shows in the theatre at the end of the pier. So this painting will be a pleasure to work on, albeit slowly

When I reach an interim spot i will post that. What I have done so far is too pale to photograph

Marzamemi in Sicily- a different view

Fishing Boats in Marzameni Sicily

I have painted a view of Marzameni before some years ago. It is a delightful fishing village, where we stopped just for a coffee break, and then wandered down to the water’s edge. Many of the boats were obviously old and maintained by their owners, Some of them were hand painted, just bright Mediterranean colours, vivid reds and blues, together with dazzling whites.

The sea was the brightest blue, and as always I hope I do the colours justice. I used Pthalo Blue modified with Cobalt Blue for the sky and the sea, which seemed to work. The same colour strengthened seemed to work for the boats as well, although I did get an opportunity to use Windsor Blue for a really deep blue stripe on one of the boats

As we watched ,the boat with the umbrella hove into view and rowed slowly by, eventually finding a place to tie up. This boat was smarter but the colours were more muted

I enjoy painting Sicily. Always the colours are so vibrant, and the shadows so pronounced

I am exhibiting at the moment at Denbies Wine Estate near Dorking, and have sold a painting of Horses in the Wetlands, another favourite subject

Berlin Wall Art

Part of what is left of the Berlin Wall (Der Mauer)

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Explanation of pictures

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Meaning is clear

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I am conscious of the fact that I haven’t posted anything for a while. the reason being that i haven’t painted anything for a while, so have had nothing fresh to say

yet having said that, in my archives I have images that haven’t seen the light of day, for some years, and on reflection, are well worth dusting off and bringing into the sunlight. I found a number of pictures recently of the Berlin wall, that I had taken some years ago. We went to Poland by train, and on the way in and on the way out, we had a night in Berlin. There was so much to see. The Reichstag was incredible. We went to see Sir Morman Foster’s extension which was fairly new then. we went int he evening when it was lit up, and very dramatic

The most emotive experience though was looking at what had been left of the Wall, der Mauer. I took several pictures and can share a few here. I think the pictures will speak for themselves. The themes are clear. Oppression, loss of liberty, suppression of speech and thought, these came to an end in East Germany when the wall came down. Sadly we see them reappearing in 2022.

Just a few images from my collection. Food for thought perhaps

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Venice, Across the Lagoon

Misty View across the Lagoon, Venice

A favourite view across the Venice lagoon, with La Dogana just visible on the right-hand side , and Santa Maria delle Grazie in the distance. This was not my photograph, and I am grateful to Pixabay for the loan.

I have included the watery sun appearing through the mist, which probably will burn the mist off later. A useful tip that I read about recently was to take a bottle top, cover it with tissue and press it gently but firmly onto the wet paper. You will be left with a faint sun, which you can adjust to what you want

I used a mix of vermillion and cobalt blue to get this hazy effect, in fact no other colour. You can add more or less of one or the other to get whatever effect you want. The lonely gondola is out early by the looks of things

Just a short post this time, as other things await

Langstone Mill in Evening Glow

A favourite place and a favourite subject. My boyhood was spent in the area, and Langstone was a favourite haunt. There was and is, a lot for boys to do here, bathing and canoeing, digging for shellfish and running from aggressive swans when we interrupted them on the nest. It is an historic place. It was the ancient port serving nearby Havant, the main town about a mile inland. I say ancient. Coal was still coming in here from the north, in the early part of the twentieth century. Today it is just a delightful creek, used by sailors and photographers, and of course painters.

The tower is what is left of the c18 windmill. The sails were removed in the c19, and the building left to rot. The building to the left of the tower was the original grain store, and the one to the far left was the tide mill. In the 1930s the mill was rescued by the famous artist Dame Flora Twort and restored for residential use. The architect was Ernst Freud, well-known for his work in Germany and later in London.

Langstone Mill has a connection with Neville Shute, the novelist, who lived here during the last war, and did some of his writing here. Shute was an aeronautical engineer, and was a director of a company making aircraft in nearby Portsmouth

I have painted this subject many times. On this occasion I tried something slightly different, and used Quinacradone Gold which puts a glow in the sky, which you get with early evening. Then I added the long shadows which hopefully finish the effect