Istanbul along the Bosphorus Waterfront

We were here in October, and cruised in a small boat gently along the Bosphorus Strait for about an hour. There were any number of picture opportunities and ideas which I have brought back.

I have picked for now, three shots of the waterfront with its variety of buildings. These are consecutive frames which I hope to piece together to make an interesting composition, and finally a painting

Istanbul Bosphorus 1







Istanbul Bosphorus 2

Istanbul Bosphorus 3

Just not clever enough to get them in a line but the idea is there. I need to get a painting measuring about 45×30 centimetres out of these three frames, so will be fun sorting out the drawing in the New Year

Old Albury Church in Surrey

This is a post that I had wanted to do earlier, but never found time for, so I’m catching up before the year end

Not far from where we live, in Surrey, flows the Tillingbourne river which is idyllic now, but in the 18th century was an industrial river, punctuated with mills producing everything from flour to gunpowder

One of the many villages along its length is Albury, and we went one day in late summer, with a friend who was staying with us to look at Albury Old Church. This is one of those mentioned by Simon Jenkins in his wonderful reference book “England’s 1000 best churches”

It is one of those places that has an interesting story. The church stands next to the old manor house, and until 1782 acted as the parish church for the village. The new incumbent of Albury House, one Captain William Finch RN decided to enclose the village green, annexe a large section of the churchyard, and then set about harassing the villagers, until they moved about a mile to the west. Where they settled became the village of Albury today.

In 1839 the then owner of Albury House,  Henry Drummond, the banker, built a new parish church for the villagers and Albury Old Church was closed . Today it is maintained by the Churches Conservation Trust, and is a redundant church

Before I talk about the church, let us have a look at an image, which is my painting done shortly after our visit.

Old Albury Church

The nave is Saxon and the tower is Norman. The dome was a later addition from the c18

A lot of interesting things associated with this church! One rector of Albury, William Oughtred, was also a famous mathematician. He invented the slide rule in 1622 and is also credited with the introduction of the x symbol in multiplication. He was also the tutor to the young Christopher Wren, who was later a mathematician and astronomer before becoming known as an architect.

Henry Drummond engaged Augustus Pugin in the 1840’s to build his mortuary chapel within the 13 th century walls of the existing transept. This is regarded as a remarkable example of the work of Pugin, perhaps better known for his collaboration with Sir Charles Barry on the then new Houses of Parliament.

The entrance is on the north side which is unusual. On the south wall interior is an amazingly well-preserved Medieval wall painting showing St.Christopher. It was customary during the Middle Ages for people to look in the main door at the saint, who was believed to give them good luck on their journey.

I took a picture of the wall painting, which I will show.St Christopher Wall Painting at Albury

Most of these paintings were washed over in the Reformation, but this one survived somehow

As regards the little painting I showed earlier, there is not too much to say about it. I would just mention, as you can probably see, that I have used brown for the shadows. This is my “hot-weather shadow” reflecting the temperature of the day. I quite like doing a painting as a reminder of a day’s excursion as sometimes it captures the mood better than a photograph. That doesn’t stop me sending it to exhibition and selling it if someone wants it, though

To anyone reading this post, thank you, and have a very good Christmas and a lucky new year

Langstone Harbour: The Finished Painting

When I finished the last post, I was about to put in the background trees and then the shadows on the buildings themselves

The trees I painted with a fan brush with crinkly bristles. Wide brushes like these are useful, as they can be used to pick up two colours at once, in this case French Ultramarine and Light Red. I used Sepia as well, where I needed to create definition, along the side of white buildings for example.

Imagining a low, bright light coming from the right-hand side, I used a blue – grey wash to put in shadow on every left-hand surface of each building including shadows that would have been cast on the ground. On the mill tower, which is round obviously, and which in real life is black, I again wanted to create the effect of bright light striking the round surface.  To get this effect. I painted blue-black down the left side whilst down the right half I brushed clean water. Then I let them meet. They did the job for me, and obligingly dried as I wanted. Along the left-hand perimeter, I brushed a thin line of neat Indigo, which gave the look of deep shadow on the far left.

Probably best to look at the image at this stage.

Langstone Harbour & Mill

Sadly, the camera leeches out some of the colour no matter how many different lights I use for the photography. The colours are subtle, anyway, so notices on the jpeg, whereas the painting itself works perfectly.

As I said, when I started out, I was going to attempt the style of Rowland Hilder, the famous watercolourist. I have used his colours, but I think my own style has crept through. Nevertheless, I am still happy enough with the finished painting

So let’s talk through the detailing

On the left-hand building, I have defined the window recesses with Indigo, as well as the guttering and down-pipe, and the roof line with Sepia

On the centre building, again I defined the roof-line and painted a rickety fence in front of the sluice gate. I may have mentioned earlier, that this was a tide mill as well as a windmill, so seawater flowing through this tunnel would have powered grinding machinery somewhere. I can’t tell you more than that, I’m afraid, as these buildings were derelict when I was a boy in the 1950’s, and had been for many years, so nobody knew their history. Thankfully, they were restored for residential use.

The right-hand building took more work, as the space underneath where the house is standing on brick stilts, is very dark, and took various coats, even using some black eventually. Window recesses were defined as was the balcony.

It just left the masking fluid to be removed, and to paint in the posts and flag, which was a splendid opportunity to use Cadmium Red, nice and bright to guide the eye into the picture. The gulls were tinged with grey under the wings and black at the tips. We were done!

I hope that you enjoyed this long journey. Thank you once again,  for reading my blog

Langstone: Underpaintings

I mentioned in the last post that I would give the painting a coat of burnt sienna. In fact, I changed my mind and used raw sienna with Naples yellow mixed to give some brightness against the darks that would come.

I did mask out the white-walled buildings, as well as two metal posts jutting out of the water, and for good measure masked out some gulls to give the scene a sign of life.

I also put in some tree shapes as guidelines in sepia ink


Rather a pale wash, so a pale photograph I am afraid. I think you can see where I have masked out in blue, the white buildings, the posts and also the flag as well as the windows on the old mill tower. The tree shapes I put in after this picture was taken but you will see them on the next image.

I gave this coat 24 hours to dry hard. Had I been in a hurry, I could have used a hair dryer, but I prefer natural drying, as then the paper returns to its flat condition. I find if you rush the drying, then the paper retains any cockling that may have taken place whilst wet.

I then mixed a dilute solution of Phthalo blue and Cobalt blue and washed this over the sky and sea. I blotted out some clouds. This coat also had 24 hours to dry.

The next step was to mix up a solution of French Ultramarine blue and Light Red. The trick is to get it not too strong yet not too wishy-washy. That is not easy. I worked this in from left to right, simulating, I hoped, gathering storm clouds. The colour varies depending on the mix from blue-black to deep red. In some places I put pure pigment along the top of a cloud edge to give the impression of strong light behind. To accentuate this, I scrubbed with a bristle brush and clean water, the area the other side of this pigment line. In other words, I scrubbed off the blue to reveal the sienna / yellow. I worked on the clouds adding some colour here and removing some there. I will show the image next


Sadly the camera has taken some of the strength out of the colours, no matter how many times I took this shot, which spoils the light against dark effect

Always an act of faith to go on, at this stage, as mid-painting always looks a bit of a mess, which is why it is essential to finish

Next to put in the trees behind the roof-tops and the shadows on the buildings which will give them their form. I still have to do that, so will post again

Langstone Harbour : Tonal Sketch

The drawing of the harbour buildings, the mill and outbuildings is done, and lights and darks filled in. I have used ink, as this makes sketching very quick. The cartridge paper has cockled, as I knew it would, but is adequate for the task ahead.

I will transfer the drawing to watercolour paper, and do some experimentation with the sky. The first thing to do, will be to give the whole picture a coat of burnt sienna, not too strong, just enough to give a good base coat. I will mask out two buildings which have white walls in the photograph, and they will give extra reflected light.

That will then have to dry overnight, as there are further washes to go on sky and sea. The second wash must not pick up any colour from the first one, as the effect will be muddy. This is the sketch so far:

Tonal drawing of Langstone Mill

The annual exhibition in Pirbright went collectively well. I didn’t sell any framed paintings this time, but I did sell six greeting cards, so better than nothing. Two of the designs sold were ” Lock Gates/Basingstoke Canal” and the other four were “Cotswold Winter-Snow”, which are both on the web site

I am pleased to say that I have arranged two solo exhibitions for next year. I have booked space at The Guildford Institute from 3rd to 20th May and at the Royal Surrey Hospital from 27th May to 24th June. Both of these are popular galleries, where I have sold well in the past. Let’s see how we get on this time!

I will post again when I have started on the actual painting, which is going to be into next week now. I hope you find it useful, and as I always say, if there is a different method that has worked for you, please tell me about it

Langstone Harbour in Winter

The last painting was in the warm Adriatic sunshine. Now in the UK, albeit warmer than usual, our days are dark and skies are threatening as our weather comes in from the Atlantic.

For painting, I actually enjoy this time of year. I love winter landscapes, which give us a good opportunity to use those blacks for very deep shadows, as well as bright lighting from the side from the low sun when it does appear.

My mentor, for this type of painting, is a famous watercolourist called Rowland Hilder, who is well-known for this type of landscape. He painted often in his native Kent, and along the east coast generally. He was also a sailor, and produced dramatic seascapes along the south and east coasts, and especially in the Thames Estuary. I am going to try and do the next painting in his style

The subject I have chosen for this style of painting, is Langstone Harbour. Situated between Portsmouth and Chichester on the south coast, and before the bridge to Hayling Island, Langstone used to be the ancient port of Havant, the nearest town. Nothing commercial has happened there for many years, and the place settled down to a quiet pace. The coast is reeded and muddy, so unsuitable for bathing, but beloved by yachtsmen, as are so many inlets along that stretch of coast.

I grew up nearby, and it is a fun place for youngsters who like messing about in boats.

Langstone Mill

This is the old mill at Langstone, which was once a windmill and tide mill. The sails were taken off in the c19, and after a period of dereliction, was refurbished and made residential from about 1950. Dame Flora Twort, the artist lived there and did much of the rescue work. Neville Shute, the novelist was a frequent house guest

This is really the centrepiece of the harbour, and is painted a lot. There are other buildings to the left, like the Royal Oak pub, also lovely. It will just depend on what I can get into the picture

That is what I am going to start on next, as soon as time allows. This is a busy time of the year for everybody, and it could well be next week before I get underway. This week-end is the Pirbright Annual Exhibition, with hanging on Friday evening, which I mentioned in a previous post. Something like 170 paintings are to be exhibited, I am told. I am entering three as I mentioned before, so a lot of competition. I sold one last year, but whether I can do it again, I just don’t know

I shall probably post the drawing, which I may well do in ink, first on its own, as this will be quite a lot of work in itself. I will write again when I have done that. Thank you