Wisteria at Wisley: the finished painting

Wisteria at Wisley

We haven’t been able to visit the RHS gardens at Wisley ever since lockdown began. It was a favourite place and we miss going there. Hopefully as things ease they may reopen, although how social distancing will be organised, remains to be seen

Doing this painting reminded me of happier times. We have stood here enough times in the loggia if that is the term, looking through the wisteria along the canal to the laboratory, which is an uninspiring name for the splendid mock-Tudor building in the background

Flowers and foliage are not my strong point. I had to look up how to paint wisteria. I used ultramarine violet, and then dark mauve for the deeper colours. I also dropped some quinacradone gold in here and there for the tips of the flowers. That has a name which botanists will know

The leaves were built up with a succession of colours. Sunlight streamed through in places and cadmium yellow suited that. I used Sap Green mixed with Lemon and finally Olive green for the leaves in shadow

Anyway I think it came close to the photograph, but as always I will leave others to judge

Just to finish off, I have been having a remarkable number of sales, all online obviously. I think this must be the lockdown factor

Ferry across the Bosphorus sold this week and was shipped today in fact, bringing my total to four since January. Chicken feed to many artists I know but significant for me.

Ferry Crossing the Bosphorus



Now gone and missed already

Wisteria at Wisley



Wisley Gardens, the headquarters of the Royal Horticultural Society is fairly near us, and we go there frequently. Since lockdown the place has been closed, like so many other gardens. We’ve missed it enormously especially at this time of year

This photograph appeared in Garden magazine this month, showing the view through the wisteria along the canal towards the laboratory which is the elegant building in the background. I have painted it many times

As I can’t go there I shall paint this view with everyone’s permission, as the next best thing. We look forward to going back when things return to normal.

I have in fact made a start, and I will let you know how I get on

Despite lockdown , I am still selling a few pictures. I sold the painting of the Scottish castle, Eilean Donan a few days, and the buyer collected from my door. We observed social distancing of course

Dragon on the Roof : The Painting

Dragon on the Roof, as the restored Pagoda at Kew Gardens

This is my painted submission from the photograph in the last post

Colour matching was a problem. I don’t think that I had ever tried to render gold paint in watercolour before, so I have had to experiment a bit. I haven’t hit the colour square on, but putting the photograph aside, and just looking at the painting, I do feel that my gold does look like gold paint that has been lacquered. Or so I tell myself.

I used a base coat of raw sienna and Naples Yellow. When that was hard, I started to put in shadows with raw sienna. For darker shadows I started to use some more raw sienna but mixing in quinacradone deep gold. For very deep shadows I was using the deep gold straight out of the tube.

The green was more straightforward, a sap green base coat and let that go hard. I mixed some sap green with french Ultramarine to produce that glossy deep green, and started to work in the shadows. For the deep shadows I used more blue. Some artists I know are horrified about putting on several coats of watercolour paint. I don’t agree. I find the finish goes more and more velvety when you do that, and in this case started to look like gloss paint.

Vermilion for the tongue and tail

I have framed this for the exhibition. I cannot imagine this subject being commercial, but with all these dragons we are meeting the requirements of the organisers, and that is good.

The date is the 15th, so we shall see

Dragon on the Roof

Restored Dragons on the Pagoda in Kew Gardens

Our local art club has a presence at the annual fair in Pirbright, which has decided on dragons as its theme for the day. I don’t know why but……Artists have been asked to submit paintings of dragons, so I have had to put Barcelona on hold, whilst I think of something. Totally without inspiration, I remembered going to Kew Gardens about a fortnight ago, and saw the wonderful restoration of the Pagoda

The Pagoda was designed by Sir William Chambers in 1762. The dragons made of wood were part of the original but taken down after twenty years for renovation, but never put back. For years the pagoda was a dreadful shade of red, but now, thanks to a wonderful restoration, the pagoda has been returned to its original colour, and dragons have been superbly made and are back where the original designer had wanted them

The pagoda had been designed as a gift for Princess Augusta, who founded the Royal Botanical Gardens. I’ve not been to the top. I gather that views over London are spectacular. Perhaps one day.

Anyway, i am going to paint, as my submission, one of these rooftop dragons, and see where it gets me. I don’t have long. Paintings must be installed framed early morning on the 15th. We shall see

Fountain of Love: the finished painting

The Fountain of Love 

Well, this painting is finally finished. Towards the end, although commissioned, it was starting to become a labour of love, no pun intended.

I found myself wondering whether I would finish or fall at the last hurdle. I feel pleased with it, which is dangerous to say, as the image for approval has only just gone to the client, and if it doesn’t match what he had in mind, then I shall be in difficulties. Worst case scenario, it will be rejected, but even then I would find this one useful for the web-site

In terms of technique, there isn’t much to add to the last post. The jets of water were achieved by flicking white gouache onto a blanked off section of the painting. Always a bit hit and miss, but mostly they have worked, and in some cases provided a realistic white mist

Unless I have to make any last-minute adjustments, I should be free to think of something else, for which I have built up a long list. I am at least at the end of my commissioned work ( for which I am truly grateful), and can now think of my next exhibition which is March/ April as I remember. I have paintings ready but will need more, and so we go on.

Morning in Bosham Finished Painting

Morning in Bosham

The finished picture entitled Morning in Bosham

This was the first of the two paintings which I was hoping to plan together. But it was not to be. As the poet said, or something like, the best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry.

They certainly do. I have done a few sketches of the horse picture, but last Thursday the phone rang and a regular client phoned with a commission for an extremely ornate fountain called the Fountain of Love which is in the grounds of a mansion called Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire

I went to look at it, at the week end and took some reference shots and append one for your interestDSCF4449

I have just had to arrange a professional copy so that all the detailing is picked out clearly. This will be a test of drawing skill and no mistake. Too late however, as I have said yes.

Cliveden House is now an hotel. It is c18 I believe and is associated over the years with a succession of powerful women. The latest was Nancy Astor, the American heiress who became a Westminster MP, the first woman MP I think, and certainly a forceful lady.

The house is remembered for being the scene of the scandal involving Christine Keeler a model, and John Profumo the then Minister of Defence during the 1960s. She was also having an affair with a Russian diplomat, so the whole thing was considered a threat to national security. Profumo lied to Parliament and the whole thing nearly brought down the MacMillan government

The same day i received another commission to paint a boat in St Katherine’s Dock which might be postponed and give me a breather. Today I received a request to do yet another view of beloved Bosham Harbour and Church

That will teach me to boast about doing two paintings simultaneously.  The gods have a habit of looking down and teaching you a lesson if you appear over-confident. They have, and it serves me right.

Walking around the Alhambra, Spain

DSCF4217

Walking around the Alhambra Palace, there was so much that I wanted to paint, but there was no chance of getting a long shot of the citadel, without going to the next mountain, or so it would seem. Also on this occasion I had plenty of photographic material of my own, so I didn’t want to borrow anyone else’s

This is why I have entitled this piece Walking around the Alhambra, as there are so many corners which would make a study in themselves

This is the one I have picked for now, which is a view through Islamic arches into the Courtyard of the Lions, with its magnificent lion fountain. This picture doesn’t home in on the fountain, although I have others that do

I am actually more interested in how the shadows fall, strange as it may seem. The courtyard is in blazing sunshine, and very hot, I may say. Around the perimeter we have the cool, where the rulers would perambulate in relative comfort. The cool areas are defined geometrically by the shadows thrown by the arches almost like a reflection

There are some things to leave out, of course, there always are. The rope barrier in the foreground will have to go, as will the ladder in the background. Some figures might be moved although I don’t want to interfere too much with the shadows that they throw down. I have another picture of the same shot, with different figures in it and I may well borrow a couple of them

So, starting to look forward to it

A date for anyone near enough to go, Pirbright Art Club are holding their annual Railings Exhibition out side the Lord Pirbright’s Hall in Pirbright, Surrey, on Saturday 28th July between 12 and 4. Last year it had to be cancelled because of wet weather. This year after weeks of blistering heat, that would be cruel indeed if it happened again. The forecast is dry

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

Dewdrop on Leaf Exercise

Dewdrop on Ivy Leaf

Now that my exhibition work is finished pro tem and before I go away for a while, I thought I would look at some exercises that I have been meaning to do, yet never found the time

This one I owe thanks to Susan Neale who did this demonstration in the Paint magazine some while ago.

She mixed the leaf colour with indigo and lemon watercolour. I have to say, one of the most accurate dark leaf greens I have seen and I have included a real leaf in my picture to compare

Using her own words, more or less:

  1. Using the dark green mix, paint the leaf shape with a no 7 brush. Add the veins using a mix of white gouache mixed with the lemon yellow ( I did add a little of the pale green too)
  2. When dry, draw the dewdrop shape. Now with dark green colour add the shadow area at the top of the dewdrop. Soften the shape with clean water and allow to dry
  3. Paint the cast shadow at the base of the dewdrop, using a darker shade of green
  4. To finish, using the white gouache, apply a rounded dot to the top of the bubble and a highlight to the bottom end

 

As for my attempt, well, could improve with practice perhaps

A useful little detail if you can master it

Close up of dewdrop

I won’t be posting anything for a while so don’t get upset if I don’t respond

Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre: Underpainting

Sacre-Coeur Underpainting

From the drawing I have got as far as providing a base coat for the painting. As you can see, I have added some foreground figures from my archive, just to deepen the composition

Basically I have put in the shadows, which in effect gives the subject its form. For the church and figures I have used a mix of transparent brown and violet, which has gone a bit too grey for my liking, so colder than I wanted. I had run out of Ultramarine Violet which I normally use, so used Windsor Violet instead which is more blue than I expected. I will run a wash of transparent brown over the shadow, when bone dry, just to warm them up, and then work in the detail.

I sometimes prefer this stage to the finished painting, when the buildings seem to loom out of the mist.

For reasons best known to myself, I have finished the trees and shrubs first. I don’t usually do that, and have probably made it hard for myself to strike the right tonal balance. Oh well, let’s hope it works out

I am also in the middle of trying to set up an online shop with Artfinder, who come recommended. Nothing like the sales that I enjoyed last year, either locally or from my own website. Maybe it is the Brexit effect slowing down our economy. Anyway I have to try something different, so I will doubtless post when I have done it successfully, and also on social media