To Continue with the Docklands Commission

Five Image Docklands Commission Partway Only

Well, out of the mist, some definition is starting to appear here and there

They wanted the Canary Wharf skyline to run along the top. Incidentally I photographed this on the easel so I am sorry that the images appear slanted. Also there are some shadows and stuff which shouldn’t be there. Just to make Canary Wharf more interesting I have used sunset colours building up oranges and vermillion across the windows. I have used vermillion and cobalt blue blended for soft shadows, which works, I believe. Little cranes help the feeling of distance. I think that picture is pretty well there, and I was asked to make that image soft anyway. I like to take the client’s instruction into account if I can, but sometimes they have to be persuaded to do things differently.

I finished the little ferry boat. Once I started I just could not stop. I think she will be my favourite image of the five, probably because I like painting boats anyway. For the background I have repeated the Canary Wharf Skyline, which is geographically impossible, but infinitely more interesting.

The pub in the bottom right, is ready for its next coat, which will be Transparent Brown over the Violet, which will give more definition to the building itself. I think yellow for the umbrellas, but I just need to work out which one.

The image which scares me and which I have made a start on is the crescent shaped building of Lensbury Circus. At the moment it is looking rather bleak, as though the area is run down, which of course it isn’t, far from it. All those windows too. They may have to succumb to a sort of lost and found treatment

But there are more positives than negatives so I will get back to it, but not tonight. I have spent hours on this one, but there are five pictures instead of one, which I should have realised when I took it on. Luckily I’m not on piece work or I would starve.

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Andalucia visit

La mezquita-cathedrale in Cordoba

Quite a lot of architecture to blow the mind in this part of Spain. The problem is to know where to start. The mezquita-cathedral in Cordoba is one that impressed me in terms of size and quality, so let’s begin here

Started in the c8 and enlarged over the centuries, the building was in use as a mosque until the Christian reconquest in 1236. The arcaded hall is staggering with something like eight hundred columns of jasper, porphyry and marble. Quite a lot of recycled Roman material was used, and you can see that in the capitals.

The interior is vast and holds, we are told, thirty thousand worshippers. I was reminded of those old halls of mirrors. You look through the arches and reflections stretch to infinity. Turn around and the effect is the same. The only difference here is that these arches are not reflections, but real ones, but still they appear to stretch to infinity

Court of the Lions and Fountain

The court of the lions with its fountain, just one detail of the famous Alhambra Palace. We had been once before, but that was twenty odd years ago. It was a long journey this time, as we went from Seville by coach, a journey of three hours which was tiring but nonetheless worth it. There were only six English speakers in the group. so we had the undivided attention of a superb guide called Manuel, who insisted on getting total attention from us in return. It was even difficult to take pictures, as he became fractious when we did.

The story we know. The last of the Moorish palaces to be taken in 1492 by the Christian reconquest, under the leadership of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Not only had it been a citadel as well as a Moorish palace, but was also a place of diplomacy and negotiation. Cordoba was not that far but had been reconquered in 1236 by the Christians, so for more than 200 years the two sides would meet here at the Alhambra, before at last the palace was handed over

Under the Christians, the Alhambra became a royal palace for Ferdinand and Isabella. They are both entombed in nearby Granada Cathedral. Christopher Columbus was received here, to receive his instructions before sailing to the New World.

Seville and Cadiz were both toured at length, but can be dealt with at another time

London Docklands Commission

Canary Wharf Skyline

The iconic skyline of Canary Wharf which makes a nice silhouette against an evening sky. The sky has a dull orange glow which should take some pale blue outlines nicely, whilst at the same time, get some orange reflections into some of the windows.

This is only one of the images I have been asked to paint, and then arrange them on one sheet.

Probably one of the more testing commissions that I have been given. This is being commissioned for a work colleague who is returning to his native land in August, so one wants to get it right. Scale and perspective have been abandoned as I try to get everything to fit, but we are moving forward inch by inch

Two of the other images are office blocks, and I have to say that glass and concrete are subjects that I tend to avoid in watercolour. The only saving grace of glass buildings is that they mirror the sky and can appear dramatic. One of them has a tint of green in the glass which makes it more interesting

The pub where they all went has something about it in style, and so,  that I can make something of. The other shot is of the ferry that crosses the Thames from the Docklands Hilton Pier, and of course, anything to do with boats is always a good subject for painting

This has already taken me a long time and will take more. Basically five drawings instead of one, so I should have charged more but never mind

Bosham Harbour goes on hold yet again. Incidentally the lady collected her wedding venue painting and was thrilled with my interpretation, for which I am relieved and delighted.

Churchill place (1)

Sketchwork on Bosham Harbour

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I have been away for the last five days or so, in Spain with perfect temperatures of around 20 with gentle sunshine plus sea air. I’m back now to something like 12 and wet so feeling cold. Yesterday I rescued my garden and allotment. Today I am catching up on other things like my blog

I started last time with an indistinct photograph of Bosham Harbour, which I have done so many times, but this time in evening colours.  Before I went away I prepared some sketches and finally decided on the one which I have illustrated.

I have kept the distinctive distant shore line without much detail. That broach spire identifies the village of Bosham unmistakably.  From my archives I have included a different boat, which will add something to the foreground.  There were beached boats in the photograph which in my opinion did little, although I did include a couple of these to close off the side of the painting to he right.

I think I will use a mixture of violet, yellow and brown for the painting. I am more interested in how the colours work, than in the actual image, so the result may look like an impression of Bosham rather than a record of the harbour itself.

Before leaving this subject, I will mention that I am setting up an exhibition in Leatherhead, in the theatre on Monday morning.  Leatherhead is a town about twenty miles distant, so new territory, which is always exciting

Coming back to the Bosham painting, I will finish with another image, which is the basic line drawing transferred to watercolour paper. We are now ready to paint.

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A different aspect of Bosham Harbour

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i think I may have mentioned ad nauseam that Bosham Harbour with its ancient church is a favourite subject for painting, and is widely known

If I am preparing for an exhibition, I usually like to have at least one view of this beautiful little place. The problem is that everyone wants the same shot, across the harbour with the church against the skyline, so painters, like me, are continually looking for a way to paint this view, and yet make it look different every time.

I came across the attached photograph a few months ago, which interested me. As you can see, it is a gentle evening shot, with some bright sky and some very deep silhouettes. The details are blurred, which is not something I usually do, but found myself intrigued nonetheless. The effect could be impressionistic, which again is not something I usually do. The other thing I liked, is that, when translating this into a painting, one could use a very limited pallette, which I find improves the effect very often. In this case, we are looking at yellow and violet basically, which generally work together very well.

I haven’t used these two colours for a while, so the idea is attractive

I am not sure about how I feel about the beached boats in the immediate foreground. They are certainly an aid to perspective, which I can appreciate, and yet in your face just a bit. I think I will draw some of these separately on tracing paper and chase them round the composition to see what I like best. I have been through my archives of boats too, and have sketched one or two of those, again to see what works.

Despite what I said about getting away from detail for a change, I don’t want meaningless shapes either, and unlike photographers, artists can choose what goes into a composition, which gives us an advantage, so I might be able to get away from that rather shapeless foreground.

I think there will be quite a lot of work with little bits of tracing paper, before we hit on the right composition, so we will see what happens. Yet another journey into the unknown.

Goathland ( or is it Hogsmeade ) Railway Station Finished Painting

Goathland or Hogsmeade Railway Station

The finished article

I had no idea how this might turn out. I was attracted by the colours at first. Whoever thought to paint the station and rolling stock in that bright red, and then place them all against all that greenery, certainly had an eye for colour

I am old enough to remember the old British rail rolling stock, which was long past its sell-by date, fifty years ago, perhaps without us knowing. In the 1970s I worked for a company manufacturing furniture, and remember sending consignments in the old British Rail B container down to Switzerland. They were cheap is about all you could say. The journey took several days and the containers let in water, because as I said, they were old. We changed to transport by road using a Swiss haulage company, and the service improved dramatically, but sad nonetheless.

The colours were familiar though. Perhaps more weather beaten which faded the colours, but nevertheless I remember the trucks either as a worn pink or perhaps a deeper browny red

In any event, I have left the colour of the goods trucks slightly on the bright side, in order to stand out against the trees. Who could remember what they looked like as new. We only ever saw them after wind, sun and rain had taken their toll, not to mention smuts from the steam engine, which would have been shunting them in those days

I ended up liking this painting. I can spot mistakes, of course, but enjoyed working on it. Whether the painting will prove saleable is yet to be seen. I have stopped trying to predict what will sell and what won’t, as I am wrong so often

I have the Leatherhead Theatre exhibition coming up, so may try to get it in there.

We shall see

Goathland Drawing

Goathland Drawing

This is my rough sketch of Goathland Railway Station, used amongst other things, for the model for Hogsmeade  Station on the Hogwartes Express, says he, knowing virtually nothing about Harry Potter

I moved the composition out on both sides from the original photograph. I managed to find some more material on the Internet, not much, but the little I found was helpful. On one side there is a siding used for what looks like, Pullman coaches. I have the colour at least, which seems to be mostly cream with green

On the left hand side, I was able to complete what looked like a railway shed. It was more or less what I guessed it should be, but it was good to have it confirmed.

Now comes the tedious part, as you have heard me say before, of transferring the sketch onto watercolour paper, as a line drawing, hopefully improving the accuracy as I go. Some little while before I get round to that I expect

Some news about exhibitions. I finished the show at the Guildford Institute and sold one painting on the very last day. It was the one called “Bikes and Canals in Amsterdam” which I was pleased about, as this was rather a different subject for me. One painting is not remarkable, I know, but the Institute is not a busy place like a hospital, for instance, but I like showing there as it enjoys local prestige, and gets you talked about.

A couple of days ago, I was approached by the theatre in Leatherhead, which is a town about twenty miles from where I live. They are opening an art gallery for local artists, and wondered if I would support them, which I am doing. I am taking a small section of wall space as a trial, and will be showing there from 1st to 14th May

It should be an interesting experiment. I haven’t tried the Leatherhead area before. The theatre also draws from the town of Dorking, and the surrounding villages, so I remain cautiously optomistic, as always. The gallery organiser supports the exhibition with local publicity as well as social media. Some of this activity is directed towards private galleries in the area, and again not a segment of the market that I have approached before.

So will make an interesting punt. We shall see

Goathland Railway Station or Hogsmeade if you prefer

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I borrowed this photograph from Simon Jenkins’ wonderful book, Britain’s 100 Best Railway Stations. Shame about the centrefold but I’ve pressed it out as best I can. This is Goathland Railway Station. I’ve never been there but feel I have, as this station was used as a backdrop for that delightful TV series Heartbeat, and of course, it was Hogsmeade Station on Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express.

I have been to others like it, some in the north of England and others closer, some rescued by enthusiasts, with others like the Settle/Carlisle Railway, brought back into the national system by popular demand, having once been axed by Doctor Beeching in the 1960s.

This view is made to be painted, and I give credit to Simon Jenkins and trust he will forgive me, if I borrow it.

It will not be slavishly copied. I need to take the image out to the left and to the right, and I have found material on that wonderful Internet, which shows a siding to the right with coaches, and to the left enough of the storage shed for me to complete

Drawing will be challenging. How to tackle those railway lines, remains to be seen, and we can make a judgement afterwards, but for now, let’s get to it

Finished Bosham Panorama Painting

Finished Bosham Panorama

and there it is waiting to go into its long frame

That will then complete a collection of twelve paintings for the coming exhibition at the Guildford Institute from 19th of this month

Since the last post, really the work was purely detailing, using dark brown, white and cadmium red. I have drawn in some buoys and odd details like that

I bought a new detail brush the other day, designed by Matthew Palmer. It has a large bole which holds a good supply of water, but the tip comes to a very fine point, which produces a line rather like you’d expect from a pen. I think it was designed for painting very thin branches and twigs. It also works well for fine rope work, and window frames

Huge sigh of relief now that the exhibition collection is finished, all but framing the last one

I can now look at catching up with a few paintings for pleasure. I love doing horses and have made some initial sketches, from which I think I can put an interesting composition together. I have gone back to drawing by eye instead of using a grid, which not only saves time, but also is comforting to know I can still do it ( or think I can)

I will publish the horse drawings at another time

Bosham Panorama for the Long Frame

Bosham Panorama Starting to emerge

Emerging from the sea mist almost

This is the start of the panoramic painting for the long frame which I mentioned recently, which I am hopeful for, but we shall see

For sky and sea I used a mix of phthalo blue and cobalt. For the sunset sky and reflection in the water, I have used a mix of Cadmium Orange and Permanent Rose. I was not pleased with the initial result, as the sky came up very orange indeed. I applied coat after coat of Permanent Rose, wet on dry, which when dry, appeared to have made very little impact. Eventually the sunset turned pinky red, and I quite liked the effect of the pink over the blue. Where the blue had gone on sparsely, the pink soaked in, and started to look like pink clouds on the blue sky. I am not sure whether this shows in the photograph.

In order to get the effect of the low sun on the rooftops, I will need to glaze the buildings with something like Light Red and if that goes too brown, then a thin wash of Cadmium Red. Sparingly, of course, as that is powerful stuff.

There is masking fluid to come off, where white buildings have caught the strong light. I should have mirrored that in the sea, but forgot, but I think I can rescue that with White Gouache.

Dark shadows to go in with dark Brown which will accentuate the light, I hope. Also some small boats for which I will use the same blue mix, and white masts, should add to the effect

I am hoping so, as exhibition time draws near