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

Van Gogh and Arles

I have been away for the past week. We cruised down the River Rhone from Lyon to Arles which was lovely, and took three places off my bucket list. One was the Pont du Gard, that amazing section of Roman aqueduct still remaining crossing the River Gard. Very hot that day but still summoned the energy to go down to the water’s edge and look up at this amazing structure whilst envying the people in the water. The second place was the Camargue National Park to see the famous white horses and the black bulls, as well as of course the flamingos who breed there, the only breeding ground of this bird in Europe. Curiously they are not very pink. The third place, as an artist that I wanted to visit was Arles made famous by Van Gogh, and those of us who wanted, were treated to a fascinating walking tour taking in some of the places made famous by the artist.

Van Gogh arrived in Arles in 1888, and took a room in a house near the railway station. he called it the Yellow House and it is depicted in one of his paintings. The house isn’t there anymore. It was destroyed by bombing in WW2. The house next door is still there, not yellow but a sort of buttermilk colour, and curiously enough still a cafe.

The light in Arles is extremely attractive for artists. The sun shines and the sky is blue nearly every day. More importantly, the famous wind, the Mistral blows down the Rhone like a corridor and clears the air of water vapour, dust etc, and produces a clarity of colour that would be hard to find elsewhere. The Mistral in summer is like a cooling breeze, like an electric fan in the heat of the city. In winter, I am told, it is something of a tyrant, getting inside your head, making you ill, and in some cases inducing madness. It goes in three-day cycles. If it doesn’t stop after three days, it will go on for another three, and so on

Vincent’s time in Arles was highly productive, producing something like 300 paintings.He was bi polar so was capable of great energy at times. ¬†On our walk we visited some of the sites made famous by van Gogh. One of them was the Night Cafe or Le Cafe la Nuit. The exterior of the cafe is depicted in Cafe Terrace at Night painted in September 1888. My picture follows.

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Another shot with the van Gogh painting as a reference

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He wanted to set up a society of artists in Arles, and to this end, persuaded his brother Theo, who was already financing him, to persuade Gauguin with financial inducements, to come to Arles, which he did. The two of them had a turbulent relationship which turned violent and Gauguin left.

Van Gogh’s despair and self recrimination led to the famous self mutilation incident, when he took a razor to his ear and sliced off a lobe. He wrapped it in newspaper and gave it to a prostitute whom he knew. She reported him to the police, who thought he had killed Gauguin. He was admitted to a hospital in Arles for treatment, where he continued to work, and produced the following painting of the hospital garden

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The garden which he painted is not dissimilar today. Later his condition was to worsen and he was admitted to a nearby asylum in St.Remy.He was estranged from Theo who was about to marry. As we know he was to shoot himself in a nearby field, amidst some controversy. He shot himself in the chest and did not die immediately. People usually shoot themselves in the head and then death is instant. How did he come by a gun. He was unpopular in the town, because of his strange behaviour. Had someone else shot him? All unanswerable questions

I have tried to condense the walk down to as few words as possible. Not easy to convey so much information, but hope you find it interesting nonetheless

Art and Empire: Following on from my post in February

Moslem Burial Ground

The Muslim Burial Ground near Woking built by the War Office in 1917 and restored beautifully in 2014 in time for the Centenary

If you read my post in February about the exhibition at the Tate Art Gallery, London, entitled Art and Empire, much of which had to do with India including the contribution of the Indian Army during World War 1, then you will remember that I finished with the story of the Muslim Burial Ground where Muslim soldiers who died of wounds in local hospitals, were interred.

There were 28 service personnel buried there from both world wars. Their remains were moved to the Brookwood War Graves in 1968, since when, the area within the walls was left barren. With the restoration, this area has now been turned into a Garden Of Remembrance, and includes a stone tablet with the names of the 28 fallen, inscribed on it.

Finally I have been again to look at it, and have taken some pictures so that I can conclude this post. It really is a very tranquil and, I think, sacred place

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The new plaque by the main entrance of the Muslim War Cemetery-Peace Garden. Let us hope the sentiment comes true

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This is the tablet commemorating the 28 service personnel who lost their lives in both world wars. You will need your zoom to read the names, I am afraid. This was as close as I could get

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Looking back towards the main gate, with the pool, landscaping and new trees. The water is being pumped round continuously, giving that delightful trickling sound. Certainly a place for meditation, and perhaps a prayer for peace. Not easy when there is an atrocity every day

I am still working on the painting of Shere Village and Church, which I would hope to finish within the next week or so

Gravetye Manor Hotel: the finished picture

Gravetye Manor Hotel

This is the finished picture of the hotel

The lights and darks helped this painting enormously, which was why I was so grateful for the sun shining just long enough for me to get a shot telling me where they were

The chimneys were hexagonal so each side had a different tonal value. They were fiddly and not sure now whether they were completely accurate, but from the point of view of giving an illusion of their shape, they seemed to work

I used raw sienna mixed with Naples yellow for the sunlit building and also for the path, which is my favourite mix for giving the appearance of sun on stone. The path was a gift for the composition, that bright open gateway surrounded by dark shadow.

Another problem was the plethora of green in the foreground. I used three different mixes which seemed to work, as well as some different plant shapes. The violet flower clump broke some of it up, and that good old favourite, red spots dotted here and there helped to take the eye

I have started to use the odd bit of pastel to get myself out of trouble where I might need a bright light colour over a dark background. I find that is a useful device and a nice change from gouache which isn’t always successful anyway

Will I have to call myself a mixed media artist? I don’t think so

Gravetye Manor Hotel in Sussex, UK

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This is Gravetye Manor Hotel which is near East Grinstead in Sussex, UK.

A beautiful old building dating from the c16 set in acres of woodland, which has been converted some years ago to a very luxurious country house hotel. The grounds are awe inspiring. This view is from the Flower Garden, which is one only of 11 separate garden spaces

The hotel has numerous accolades. Hotel of the Year England 2013/2014, Best Countryside Hotel 2014, Rural Hotel of the Year 2014 and more besides

So I was very pleased and indeed flattered to be commissioned to paint this view of the hotel, on behalf of a delightful couple for whom this hotel has become a special place during a significant time in their lives.

I went there about a month ago, hoping to get a sunny day. I say hoping, because our weather has been so very changeable lately , with sun going in and out of clouds all the time. That is even if one was lucky enough to pick a dry day to start with. I wanted sun and I wanted shadows to make the building look more interesting

This photograph is one of many that I took on the day. The sun came out reluctantly and I got a few shots with shadows cast on the building yet with a few highlights left, on the porch, on the chimneys which were a bit of a nightmare to draw, and also lit the front of the building brilliantly

The interesting part of the composition was the path to the right with the garden gate itself in shadow yet giving onto bright light beyond. Where was that going to? Well, the car park but in artistic terms it could be leading somewhere more romantic

I made some sketches and transferred them onto watercolour paper as a finished drawing, ready to paint which can be the subject of another post

Gravetye Transferred Drawing

A little bit pale as I tried to avoid dark pencil lines, but the gist of the composition is there

Exhibition at Royal Surrey County Hospital

Brewery Dray

Brewery Dray in Guildford

When we were breaking down the exhibition on Friday morning, I sold this painting at the last minute. A young woman arrived breathless with the money and bought it. I was very pleased with this as it raised my score for the whole exhibition to four paintings sold. Not the best that I have ever done but not the worst either, and certainly quite respectable.

The other three were Strolling through Montmartre, Grand Canal Venice and Painshill Park

Paris and Venice are always popular, especially the well-known landmarks. I have almost lost count of how many of each that I have sold. Painshill Park is a new subject for me and I was heartened to sell this picture, as I now feel encouraged to paint some other views, of which there are many to choose from

Painshill is a local estate near Cobham in Surrey. It was laid out in the c18 by a man called Charles Hamilton. It was in the style of a natural landscape made popular at the time by garden architects like Capability Brown and Humphrey Repton. The views were sculpted, whole forests were planted, fake ruins were built and rivers were dammed to form lakes.

Hamilton worked a lot with American species of trees. It was interesting to note that you could import a “box” of plants from American nurserymen, suitably packed to withstand the rough and long sea voyage. Many did survive and are still flourishing in the park today.

Over the years, the place deteriorated and became overgrown. In the 1950s it was rediscovered and lovingly brought back to life. Every year there is a new project. Recently the old boat house was rebuilt using old photographs. The previous year one of the bridges was replaced using an old painting as a reference. I attach my painting

PainshilL Park, Surrey

This was an unwary group of people feeding the Canada Geese by the lake at Painshill. There are literally flocks of geese of different species, as well as ducks and swans. Always a lot of activity on the water. In the background is one of the strategically placed follies, which I think is the Gothic Chapel

I am starting to whet my own appetite for painting here again!

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A different view of the lake with a different ruin which could make a good subject. Wants something in the foreground though. I have umpteen swan pictures from which to choose.

I have a commission to do and then I might tackle this one

Schlee Collection at Mottisfont Abbey

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Mottisfont Abbey near Romsey in Hampshire, UK, owned by the National Trust

We were at Mottisfont yesterday to see the roses which are magnificent now. These are grown inside the old walled kitchen garden, which give them a superb backdrop against old brickwork. I took some pictures of specimens, especially blooms which are about to fall, hopefully to do a rose study again. I haven’t done one for a long time. Not just the roses though. We had come to see the art, in the form of the Schlee Collection which is on loan from Southampton Art Gallery until July 3rd

There is an exhibition of the Schlee Collection of drawings and sketches, on loan from Southampton Art Gallery, which lasts until July 3rd. A private collection which was bequeathed to Southampton Art gallery in 2013, which includes work or should I say squiggles, by David Hockney, Henry Moore and Franz Auerbach, plus many others. I would like to say that I was thrilled by them, but I wasn’t. Heavily worked and corrected jottings are not very impressive, even if by one of the great names in British art. I was more pleased to see a drawing by Barbara Hepworth of an operating theatre, placed next to her mentor Henry Moore’s work. The Barbara Hepworth was borrowed from the Derek Hill collection which is in permanent residence at Mottisfont.

Derek Hill was a portrait and landscape painter of note, who became sought-after during the 1960s. From the south of England he moved to the west coast of Ireland and founded the Tory Island School of painting, where he taught the fishermen to paint the wild Irish landscape. He was also an avid collector of modern art, including the post-Impressionists. He was a friend of Maud Russell the last owner of Mottisfont, and bequeathed a portion of his collection there. These are always worth seeing, including many of his own works, time and again.

For me, however, the gem is still the Whistler room. Here we see Rex Whistler’s unfinished murals. Unfinished because he was killed in Normandy in 1944. His trompe l’oeil paint pot and brush high up on the coving below the ceiling, still makes me feel that I want to get a ladder and climb up and get it. I believe several have in the past

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Blue Mosque: the finished painting

Blue Mosque

Alas once again a good painting spoiled slightly by a bad photograph. The camera has diffused the depth of colour in the trees etc in the foreground. This is the best photograph of all those that I took, so will have to put up with it. Shame because the colours of foliage etc are much richer than shown. The mosque is not too bad though, even though the shadows on the building are really much deeper.

Palm trees are tricky. They were done with a dry brush, just hoping that the bristles open out to give that feathery effect. They seem to have done.

For the trunks of the palm trees, I mixed permanent rose with burnt sienna to give, hopefully, the effect of bright sun highlighting the wood. That was the base coat. I used a very dark brown as a shadow over the top as a glaze, just leaving a little of the red showing on the sunny side. Likewise the park benches which were brightly lit in some cases, I used the same mix of rose and burnt sienna. I felt that that had worked

The other trees, some of which were obviously tidily clipped, I had to sort out, otherwise in a painting they would have been indistinguishable. I painted some lighter than they appeared against darker trees in the background so that one defined the other

Small figures, some of them in red, led the eye through the trees, and I hope have given a feeling of distance

The enjoyable part of the exercise was the mosque itself. A lovely drawing exercise hopefully getting the domes and minarets right, and then the subtle shading, which I built up over a period, hoping to get the depth of shade correct. Hard for you to judge, I know, as the camera has bleached everything. So frustrating!

I had to do quite a lot of masking out in order to catch the bright spots where the light fell. So there we have it, the finished result

What to do next. I have some pictures taken on our local canal, which I would like to try. Also going to Spain in the not too distant future, so could be plenty of inspiration there too.

Thanks for reading, if you have done. Hope you enjoyed the result

 

Blue Mosque: First Wash

Blue Mosque First Wash

Just as an interim, and whilst I think of it, I have masked out several items on this picture before putting down a base wash

The scene was brightly lit from the left and there is interesting sparkle on the trees, on the tiny background figures and on the mosque itself. Whether or not I will be successful in capturing these remains to be seen. I have always found them elusive and welcome any tips.

I have masked along the left-hand edge of the minarets so as to get a hard edge against the blue sky. Likewise some of the domes and the sides of the tree trunks. The colour of the palm tree trunks is brown going towards red in the bright light, so will probably mix some permanent rose in with the burnt sienna, hopefully to catch that richness of colour. Also the park benches are that colour too.

I have put a band of Indian yellow wet-in-wet where the flower beds are so hope that works

The rest is detailing and building up the darks to encourage the brightness of the brights. We shall see. This may well take me a while