Baguettes

Baguettes

I quite like doing these narrative paintings from time to time. This one I have done in a vignette style, again something I do for a change. In some ways this style takes less time, as I don’t have to tape up, and without big expanse of sky or sea, there are no big washes to worry about.

This was not done from one of my reference photos, and my thanks and acknowledgements go to an unknown photographer whom I could not find. This painting is not a copy of but was inspired by a photograph.

This is pure nostalgia in one sense. I don’t know of a visitor to France who didn’t enjoy that early morning trip to the boulangerie for the fresh bread.

In England we don’t have that culture. Our bread is homogenised and comes plastic wrapped, although some of our supermarkets are now baking on site, and producing something worth eating. But we still don’t go for it early morning when it is fresh and still warm

This is Paris obviously. The location was not marked, but looks like Montmartre, with those steep steps. Again a place much visited and much painted.

I changed the background considerably. I have lengthened the perspective so that the Eiffel Tower looks much further away. The buildings are deliberately out of focus, so that we concentrate on the lady in the foreground. We look at her with great compassion as she struggles homeward up that steep slope, heavily laden. I see her almost pushing that basket with her knee, to take some of that strain off her arm.

This painting is smaller than my usual, this time about 30×25 centimetres. I found it a pleasant change to do. At the moment,thanks to lockdown I am sorting and consolidating my reference photographs, so who knows may find more of this type

Rooftops over Ragusa: the finished painting

Rooftops over Ragusa Finished

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

Rooftops over Ragusa: the painting in early stages

Partway through the painting

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.

Still a long way to go yet

Painting in someone else’s style completed

Corner of Venice

So this is my version of the original photograph, something I took some while ago, and frankly was something of a muddle. It lent itself to the “less is more” concept, if anything did. I am not saying this is a masterpiece by any means but does improve on the photograph.

The corner of the Doge’s Palace has been detailed although not heavily so and so has the street lamp. The rest has been trailed out, although you can just make out what it is. As I remember the shot in the background forms part of the Basilica of St.Mark, but not enough showing to be recognisable, so not really missed when phased out

I haven’t found someone else’s style easy, as one’s own creeps back, but I have been as disciplined as I could. Nice to draw in ink again, too. I had forgotten the satisfaction that brings. I tend to draw in ink over my pencil lines and then erase the pencil. My pencil lines rarely go in the right place and need a few more tries. When inking over you can pick the line you like and then erase the rest. Ink or ball point, both work well with watercolour

Looking back I can see that I didn’t attach the original photo which I will do now

The original photo

This was the original photograph that I worked from, which is as you can see something of a muddle. A good candidate for “less is more” !

One corner of the Doge’s Palace and behind the street lamp, unrecognisable bits of the Basilica. I took this years ago. I don’t remember why, but it served its purpose with this exercise

A Street in Florence–the finished painting

A Street in Florence–latest version

So here it is, the recent version, which I had attempted in a different style, but despite which turned out much the same as my version of four years ago.

As a group we were trying to produce something in the style of Tom Haugamat, the illustrator. Not someone I knew but impressed with his work when I looked him up. Most of our group were working on ipads and produced some very credible if not impressive work.

Mine veered off course as my own style crept back in. I still kept the painting simpler, that is less detailed, than my norm, and I fancied started to have a cubist feel. I thought that maybe that is how cubism started to evolve. Not that I would have been clever enough to develop a major movement like cubism, but I might recognise it happening

Anyway, this is how it turned out, and others can judge, as always

The streets are deserted today in our local neighbourhood despite the warm weather. We are becoming more disciplined in our efforts to check this pandemic. I took a short walk this afternoon, which we are still allowed to do, for exercise, just one walk.

It was very eerie out there. I took some pictures for a possible painting. I don’t usually do social commentary, but maybe something as a record would be of interest one day. I have lived for nearly eighty years, and never experienced anything like this. I wonder how many people are thinking the same

There was something very like this happening in 1665, when the bubonic plague travelled from London to a village in Derbyshire called Eyam, in a bolt of cloth which had been ordered by a cloth finisher in the village

When the cloth was unrolled the infection spread to the cloth finisher and he died within three days. The infection spread quickly, people died and survivors buried them, in gardens and in fields. The village elders closed the road in and out of the village, total lockdown. People left food and supplies outside of the village

Gradually the plague burned itself out. Not everyone died because they never do in an epidemic, hence this dreadful expression herd immunity. One woman, a farmer’s wife buried her husband and three sons in a field. She survived and went to live afterwards with her sister in Sheffield.

Today Eyam is known as The Plague Village and is a tourist attraction.

An Interesting Sale

Corfu:Shopping Lanes in Kerkyra

This painting sold on the internet out of the blue. They’re often the best ones I often think, as they give you a boost. A buyer in the United States has bought it, and it is on its way as we speak

We have had a dreadful start to the year since getting back from Romania. My father died on New Year’s Eve whilst I was away. My wife and I have both been ill ever since getting back. I am just getting over bronchitis and my wife has one heavy cold followed by another. Fearsome bugs

We have had to do funeral preparations whilst feeling like death ourselves, even though having wonderful support from family, there were some things I had to do myself

This painting had happy memories. We were in Corfu about three years ago, and enjoyed it immensely. Literally any port in a storm, we were unable to dock on the Adriatic coast and had to run from the storm. Corfu took us, and what a lovely place it is. We had a tour round the island and spent the afternoon in Kerkyra in the shopping lanes. This painting was my memento. I am so pleased that someone has chosen it and it will go somewhere it will be valued

Afterwards we sailed for Greece in the evening. It had been a lovely trip. Often thought I would like to revisit Corfu and spend more time

Anyway this short blog whilst I think of it. I am still working on the Venice picture but not as much as I would like

The Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath, finished painting

The Royal Crescent Hotel

This commissioned painting is finished and approved, and once I have cut a mount and signed and dated, then this will be going off to its new owner

Testing in many ways, classical architecture doesn’t leave a lot of room for error, nonetheless enjoyable to do, and I am happy with the way it has turned out

I shall be otherwise engaged for a few days, but as soon as I can, I need to start on another commission, which is a really interesting looking house portrait. That will need a shetch for approval before getting started.

Added to that I have an important exhibition coming up mid October at one of the local hospitals. This is one where I usually sell. I pray that I sell something as I am bulging with framed pictures. It’s lovely to sell on the internet, but I get left with frames. However, a happy problem

So quite busy for a while

I don’t know what made me do it, but I started going through boxes of slides which I took in the 1970s. Some of us can remember that colour photographs were made into slides at one time, for projecting onto a screen, for amusement of family and friends with our holiday pics, or not as the case may be.

I found amongst the many, a lovely shot of a fishing harbour in Brittany where we stayed in 1972. I have had it printed so that I can work from it, and that will be up after the commissioned work.

Much to do

The Royal Crescent in Bath

I have been commissioned to paint the facade of the Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath. which is a beautiful building in a beautiful city

Bath was made especially fashionable in the c18. It was a spa town. The rich and the famous went there for their health, to take the waters and to see and to be seen. It had been famous for its natural spring waters since Roman times, and the Roman baths today are a favourite tourist attraction. The Roman name for Bath was Aquae Sulis, or the waters of Sul. Sul was a British god whom the Romans adopted, so presumably the spring waters were venerated long before the Romans arrived.

The Royal Crescent

This is a long shot of the famous crescent. Sadly a dull day when I was there so the light does no justice to the lovely Bath stone which is a gorgeous honey colour. I have been commissioned to paint the hotel which is in the middle of the crescent and has a larger central window than the rest of the houses in the terrace

The terrace was designed in 1774 by an architect called John Wood the Younger. It looks out over parkland to this day, and has earned the soubriquet of “rus in urbe”. The Royal Crescent is considered to be the finest example of neo-classical architecture in the country, and has been imitated in Brighton, Buxton and London

I now have the task of doing this fine building justice in paint, which should prove challenging to say the very least.

La Sagrada Familia Barcelona Painting in progress

The Church of the Sacred Family Underway

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.

Looking Back at Old Work

The London Eye

Do you ever look back at really old stuff? I don’t do that often, but I think it’s a good exercise to do sometimes. Sometimes you can see that you have improved, although looking at some of my old work, i sometimes wonder if I have.

That aside, I found this picture of the London Eye, which was a very good example of rescuing a painting from the jaws of disaster. This had been a much larger painting, crossing the Thames and including the Parliament buildings and some river boats as well,

. Frankly the end result was a mess and I put it away, thinking to reuse the back of the painting for some rough work later on. At another time, someone was talking about cutting down an old painting and using what was left as a presentable picture. I though of that Thames picture and ending up cutting the centre out, leaving out the rubbish, and concentrating on the image shown, which although not perfect, was not too bad.

The final image wasn’t much bigger than a postcard. It centred on the London Eye. I thought it worked well. So did the person who bought it.

So the moral is. Discard nothing until you’re sure there is nothing worth retrieving