Preparing the Winter Street Scene

Guildford High Street

This is the photograph that I am going to use as a reference for my winter street scene. I may have already mentioned that I have been asked to do this by a national charity, to be used as a Christmas card for fund-raising, so rather thrilled to be involved.

I have already used this photograph to produce a hot weather painting, similar to what is already depicted. That worked well and sold recently from my web site. You can see it if you want in my gallery. I now have to transform it completely, and all I can use is imagination, which for me, is never easy.

I have to add snow. Well, that is ok. I have done that many times, and that is fun, so I will enjoy doing that. I now have to imagine everyone in warm weather gear. The weather here is warming up slowly, and people are starting to walk around in light clothing. Already I cannot remember what people look like in heavy coats and hats, so I have been looking at web sites of winter overcoats for women and men, as well as hats and boots

I did some sketches straight off the screen. They are very rough so I will have to ask you not to be too judgmental as they are just to use as a guide when I put figures into the painting. I may even change some of the figures altogether, although I think the three in the front centre work quite well

I am attaching, I hope, my squiggles on winter overcoat designs and winter hat styles.

This is as far as I have got at the moment, so will come back when I have something more to say, which will hopefully  be a first draft tonal sketch of the whole scene

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Sketches of Winter Coats for Women and Hats for men and Women

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The Finished Venice Painting

Peaceful Reflections of Venice

This is the completed version. I call it Peaceful Reflections of Venice, because that is what these quiet corners of Venice are, very peaceful. The city can be busy, but then turn off into one of the side canals, and you are alone with your thoughts.

This should give me enough now for both exhibitions, I hope. The first I may have mentioned already starts on May 3rd, so some framing and stuff to do now, and then hopefully I should be ready. Guildford Institute is a lovely, friendly venue to show at and always attracts good publicity. Sales are never high there but as I say, the coverage is good, so I still like to do it

Following on, on 27th May I am at the Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford, in the Peter Thompson gallery. Sales are usually good there as the place is so busy. Having built up this stock, I am looking for sales now of framed pictures, just to give myself space to carry on painting.

Quite a few lovely people from around the world have written in to say how much they enjoy watching the painting come together in stages, starting with the drawing and ending with the finished picture. Thank you for that feedback. That is so helpful. Sometimes I think I sound like a teacher, which I am not.  I have no teaching qualifications, but I am happy for anyone to watch me paint, and if that helps, that is fine.

Some useful reaction to the website over the last few months. Three sales and two very interesting commissions. The most recent which I shall start first because of the deadline, is from a national charity, for a painting of a local high street in snow, to be, hopefully used as a Christmas card. I shall donate the work, of course, but nevertheless, the publicity will be valuable

This will take me a little while to work out but I will post in stages as time goes by.

Venice Painting: Halfway Through

Venice Painting Halfway

About halfway through the painting, and if I were smart I would wait for the painting to be finished completely, before showing it. However there are things to be talked about before they are covered by further work.

We left the picture as a drawing with some items masked out, namely the washing on the line. The sky in my usual mix of phthalo blue and cobalt blue, I washed down through the bridge and used for the water. I scrubbed out the distant buildings and painted them in with their reflections.  The tricky bit was the shadows which I had worked out with the sketch. I painted them in twice to get some depth whilst still allowing some transparency and continued into the reflections in the water.

In the photograph you may remember the building at the end was red. I have painted that in using Venetian Red appropriately enough, and have taken that through the reflections.

Venetian Red goes back to the days of the Renaissance. It is a warm red earth colour derived from Ferric Oxide, which always sounds like rust to me. It was used by Renaissance painters mixed with white to make skin tones. It was also called Sinopia, because the best quality pigment came from Sinop in Northern Turkey

It was expensive. If your house was painted in this colour, then you were a man of some means.

Francesco da Mosta in his lovely book, Francesco’s Venice tells us that the art of mixing pigments in Venice was something akin to alchemy. The secrets were closely guarded. Venice was a city of painters, who demanded the best

Still some shadow to be deepened, as well as detailing to be done. I need to work out a green for the shutters, which should also work with the red buildings. So more to do!

Someone phoned with a commission today which is always welcome. Someone who has bought my paintings before wants me to paint somewhere memorable, so something to look forward to.

Venice Painting: the Final prepared Drawing

Another Venice Painting Masked out drawing

The masked out drawing

This follows on from the last post that I wrote, hoping to include one more Venice painting in my exhibition starting 3rd May. It was a while ago that I started this, and progress has been slow I am afraid.

It is that stage which I  find the most tedious, after making an initial sketch working out the composition, as well as the tonal values, which is interesting, you then have to transfer the whole thing onto watercolour paper. A very important task, obviously, but a mechanical one which is time-consuming

However, it is done and we are pretty well ready to lay on the first wash. I am sorry by the way, for the alarming camera distortion. Those walls do not lean in to that degree, or anything like on the original drawing. I shall have to do better than that when I photograph the finished painting!

As you can see, I have masked out some items, namely the washing on the line, the street lamp and one or two flecks on the water. Not just that but I have also painted in the tarpaulins on the boats with waterproof ink colour Cyan, as well as one of the garments on the line. I can now just sweep down with the initial wash without hindrance

One of the reasons that I didn’t start painting today, was because I wanted the masking and the ink to be rock hard before I did so. The shadows have been worked out already with the sketch, so tomorrow hopefully I will at least be able to lay on the first wash, and then we shall be underway.

An interesting bit of news that has come up. I was approached at the end of last week by a national charity which is interested in getting me to design a Christmas card for their fundraising effort. They have seen some of my street scenes on the web site, which is the sort of thing they want with obvious modification. I have a meeting with them next Monday, and if that goes ahead, could be an interesting project. I have my fingers crossed on that one!

Just one more painting of Venice

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I remember saying that as my exhibition quota was pretty well filled, I might relax a bit, and do something experimental, perhaps tackle some portrait work which I have neglected for a long time. I also said that I would probably weaken, and convince myself that I needed another Venice picture for the exhibition.

Well, in fact both are true in a funny sort of way. I could use another Venice picture which are always popular, and yet making something out of the photograph above will be a different sort of a challenge. This was one of many pictures that I took when last there. It was Easter time, and rained a lot. This photograph is especially gloomy, and not what I want to capture in paint.

The subject matter and general composition is fine though. This is a typical quiet backwater of Venice, taken on a Sunday morning, which like so many offers a tranquil retreat away from the crowds. It is rather dreary though, and needs light and deep shade to make the subject matter more interesting.

The problem is always how to work out where the shadows fall. I ended up making a simple cardboard model, which I have not photographed, and then placed it under the spotlight, the position of which I moved continuously.

After I was satisfied with what I had, I then did a very quick sketch in ink and washed in the shadows. The sketch is rough, done without taking measurements, but I think will serve as somewhere to start. Anyway, I will reproduce it now

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As I say, the sketch is rough, but shows me shadows of roof tops projected onto the buildings on the right hand side. Mediterranean blue in the sky and water and bright colours on the lit buildings should, I hope, prove convincing. perhaps too the odd shaft of light catching the boats. It is something to build on

We shall see