Firstly my thanks to Oska Siobhan photographer in Mont St Michel, for the use of her photograph as reference
We first visited Mont St Michel when our children were small, so nearly fifty years ago, and went back again much later, both times on holiday in Brittany, such a beautiful region of France
Steeped in history, high tide gave protection from would be assailants, whilst at low tide access was allowed to pilgrims to the abbey. The island remained unconquered during the hundred years war despite two sieges by the English. In fact the island’s spirited resistance inspired the French and Joan of Arc.. Louis XI recognised the benefits of the location and turned it into a prison. The abbey was used regularly as a prison during the Ancien Regime
In England we have a look-alike off the coast of Cornwall. In 1067 the Mont gace full support to William the Conqueror’s claim to the English throne. William rewarded this with lands on the other side of the channel, including a small island off the coast of Cornwall, on which the Norman monks built their priory, called St Michael’s Mount of Penzance
Mont St Michel also features on the Bayeux Tapestry. Scenes 16 and 17 show William and Harold there . Harold is rescuing knights from quicksand. This would have been during the period from Harold’s shipwreck on the coast of France, when he was entertained by William
My painting, as usual is in watercolour. Quite a lot of drawing in this one as you might expect
A well known view although on this occasion I have to thank Pixabay for the reference photo
I was intrigued by this picture, not entirely by the subject matter, although of course the Basilica of St Peter’s in Rome is an inspiring piece of architecture. It was the early morning light that had been captured in the photograph that I liked which gave a misty effect to the background buildings. The trick would be how to capture that light effect in paint.
I used two colours as a base coat, cobalt blue for sky followed by orange for the middle ground covering the buildings especially and then cobalt blue again. The orange running down into the blue created a greenish colour which worked well as the colour of the river water
For detailing I used some burnt sienna for brickwork and a violet/ transparent brown mix for deep shadow. Did I capture the feeling of a city waking up and starting to get ready for the day ahead? Well, I like to think so, but I will let others judge.
This one was fun to do, and relied on a good reference picture which I found on Pixabay. The photographer was David Cattini
My next exhibition is local in the village of Pirbright, and six pictures of mine have been chosen including this one, so the feedback will be interesting.
I have completed this painting and very much enjoyed doing it. It seemed to come together without too many mishaps which is why I pushed on and completed it before publishing
We came here some years ago. It is a very tranquil spot. The painting only shows part of the ruined abbey church, which would be the chancel, I think, and the tower which was on the crossing. The rest of it, the long nave would be way to the right. Although ruined the abbey nonetheless is very impressive, and is indicative of its importance and wealth in its heyday
Strange to think that but for the greed of Henry VIII it might still be there today, functioning in some form or other. Henry VIII, always short of money, seized the monasteries in about 1536, and dissolved them. The properties were seized and sold off. This was a Cistercian monastery, and they had become wealthy through sheep rearing especially. Wool was the basis of national wealth at the time. Hence this monastery must have been a prize for the taking
Monks were dispersed. Not all were treated brutally although some were, especially if they protested about the Act of Supremacy which put the king at the head of the church. Some received pensions, some became parish priests and some became teachers in the new grammar schools
A lovely spot to stop and reflect on what might have been
As far as painting is concerned, the weir was tricky and you need to stand back for that to come together. The greens seemed to work . They are often my main worry, and can take some sorting out. Anyway as usual I will let others judge
This has been an enjoyable journey to use that expression, which does seem appropriate, as I did feel I went back there. I took photographs with a view to paint, but never found the time. One thing about lockdown is that I don’t feel guilty about making more time to paint. There is always something to do in the house but generally house and garden are tidy and the allotment is up-to-date, which is unheard of
Also I am managing to paint in natural light which is a plus. So often painting time comes in the evening and artificial light is a handicap
Colours were enjoyable with the mix of phthalo blue and cobalt for sky and cathedral. Just a tad of grey in the blue for accuracy and to stand against the sky. For all the old houses, different shades of Burnt Sienna and orange, with some blue in the steps to balance the colour scheme
There is a competition coming up for 70+ year olds in lockdown so might put this one in. There will be thousands of entries from across the country, so no hope of winning, but as we say, it’s the taking part that counts
I have made a start on the actual painting. Quite a lot of drawing work to be done as one might imagine, and working from three photographs, the perspective drawing was interesting to say the least
I do a small amount most days and look at what I have done when the paint has properly dried. The cathedral is virtually finished although I may still go back in with a sharp brush and reinforce some of the finer details.
For some reason the colours in the photograph are more red than in the original painting.
We spent a lovely holiday in Sicily a few years back. One of the many towns we visited was Ragusa, built on two hills as I remember, certainly high up.
We were given a walking tour by a local guide, a young man who was fit and agile. Members of our party were mostly not, some had sticks and needed time. He took us to the vantage point in the picture, behind the cathedral. We were faced with what looked like hundreds of steps and very steep at that. Our guide skipped up them like a young goat. We climbed slowly pausing for breath. We caught him up at the very top. He looked impatient. He gave us a matter of minutes to take photographs, and gather our strength , then trotted down at a speed which we could not match
I remember thinking ” One day, young man, you’ll be like us”
At the top I took pictures from the hip. It was quite a view and needed more time. I remember thinking ” I’ll paint this one day”. That was a few years back, and now thanks to isolation I have finally found time and I have made a start. So far so good but nothing worth showing yet
I will just finish with a view of the steps which might give an idea of the ascent
I still remember that feeling of vertigo when I looked back down
It should make for an interesting composition if I get it right
The painting is complete and as always, with any of my completed paintings, I am loving parts yet totally unsure of some of the details
The trees were in deep shadow in reality. I put them in deep shadow in the painting. Hmm. not sure. The church immediately went into the background. That wasn’t intended either
I really like the cranes which some might find strange. I think of them as part of the sculpture. I don’t think they clash at all with the basilica, magnificent as it is.
Possibly this composition will still work as a painting. I really am not sure
I am going to post it on line and will invite comment, in fact I would be grateful for comment. I did frame the work, and of course anything framed looks better, so nothing conclusive there
I will start on a new work later. Nothing to do with this one, but when I have done that I may well do a second version of Sacred Family and somehow leave out the foreground trees, and see if I am happier with that.
My next exhibition is in October so I have time. Shortly I am heading north to colder climes, Shetland Isles and the Faroes where recorded temperatures are about 11c. Yesterday at home we had 32c so an abrupt change. No painting for a week or so but maybe some sketchbook work, if I am lucky.
I have been doing some work on the painting. Unfortunately as always the photograph doesn’t show the depth of colour, which is a pity because the church is against a red sky, and the pink glow is reflecting on the building
The drawing was testing as I said before, and easy to see why the building is taking so long. The draughtmanship and architectural work is pure genius. Just making a sketch I have found tricky in the extreme
So far I have just been building up layer upon layer, wet on dry, of a pinky grey colour, which is close to the original, but not showing deep enough in this image which is frustrating.
However, we continue. I will need to introduce green into the trees, and am just wondering which shade. The tops of the trees will need to reflect red from the sky. The undersides of the trees will need to be very dark indeed
I will have to play around with that
I like the cranes. They add to the feeling of sculpture.
Just referring back to the last post showing the dragon of Kew Gardens. This was shown at the Pirbright Village Fair last Saturday along with three other paintings. Nothing of mine sold. Some very favourable comments about the Swan painting but no commitment to purchase. Alas. That’s exhibitions for you.
Now that the dragon painting is completed, I am back to the attempt on the painting of the Church of the Sacred Family. I say attempt, because so far I have just done the drawing and trying to follow the detail is absolutely mind bending
Small wonder that building the church has been taking so long following the death of Gaudi, and still more than twenty years to go. What is there, is staggeringly beautiful, both outside and in.
My painting I think will be an impression only. Certainly it won’t be an architectural drawing
We shall see when we get some colour going, and that is for later
I was here earlier in the year, and I have already written a post on this so won’t dwell on the building and its history, magnificent though it is. This was my second visit in two years, and frankly the interior is breathtaking.
The reason I have put this picture up again, is because I am going to attempt a painting of the exterior. This will probably turn out to be foolhardy, as the intricacies and detailing of the architecture on the facade are legendary. However I will soon start a drawing and see where it takes me. The drawing exercise will be the testing part, I know but it is one that I want to attempt.
I will rearrange some of this shot. The pond in the foreground is not attractive. The colour is an unpleasant shade of yellow, and I would like a lot less of it. The foliage in the foreground may or may not be included
Anyway I will come back when I have something to show
Just to end up, my exhibition at the Guildford Institute produced only one sale, the painting of Bosham Creek. Still at least I wasn’t out for a duck, and the guy who bought it was thrilled with it, so that was good.
A lean time now for exhibitions, apart for local shows. October at the Royal Surrey Hospital in the Peter Thompson Gallery, which is usually a good venue, will be the next major show for me. Time to build up stock of some different paintings.