Basingstoke Canal at St.Johns: the Finished Painting

Basingstoke Canal St.Johns Finished

Well, the painting is finished, and it is what the photograph said it would be, a very traditional waterscape, with all the ingredients, water, barges, reflections and so on.

It is not exciting. I haven’t tried anything unusual or dramatic. Nevertheless it will make a useful addition to my February show, which is themed on waterways, and for which, I have little enough at the moment

I do wish that the sun had been shining into my lens when I took the picture, which would have given it an interesting contre jour look, with some dazzle coming off the water, but it could not be. I had to take what I was given. Not many barges use the Basingstoke Canal, and to see one tie up at St.Johns Village was a fairly rare event, and to see another in the distance coming through Kiln Bridge, rarer still. So I took the picture with the best light possible.

I have done contre jour along the canal in the past and the results are exciting even if the subject matter is simple. The other alternative is to go out early on a bright winter’s morning, when the shadows are long, which I might do on another occasion.

I have much to do before February, so I will move on. My son and daughter-in-law were in Amsterdam recently , and took some pictures along the canals on my behalf. Bikes, canals and tall buildings– all the ingredients which spell Amsterdam, so I think I can make a composition from these.

Quite an interesting one to tackle.

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Basingstoke Canal: Watercolour Painting Part Finished Only

Basingstoke Canal Part Finished Only

I haven’t posted for a while, so perhaps now is a good time to publish what I’ve done so far.

I may have said last time that this painting is being based on a scene from my home village of St.Johns in Surrey. The Basingstoke Canal runs through the centre of the village, and in fact the village owes its existence to the canal, really. Cut in the late c18, the canal destined for Southampton, from London, only reached Basingstoke before the coming of the railway made it obsolete. A sort of shanty town grew up at first on the canal side, followed gradually by more prosperous houses as the village became commuter land. It is essentially a c19 working village, not pretty but charming nonetheless. The parish church of St.Johns built by the rector of Old Woking as a chapel of ease, to serve the people, gave the village its name

In the picture, the building in the background is Bellinis, our local Italian restaurant and one which attracts patrons from far afield. Lovely on a summer evening at one of the window tables looking out over the canal. In the painting, the barge is being tied up on the landing strip. The few barges that we get usually tie up here, possibly for coffee al fresco at Bellinis or perhaps access to the village shops.

So far, I haven’t done anything unusual. The palette I have kept simple, starting with my usual raw sienna and Naples yellow mix as a base. Some different greens for different plants. I favour a sap green and raw sienna mix for grass and trees rather than straight sap green. I have also used a yellow mix and also some terre vert for shadows. It was rather a dull day on that occasion, so little in the way of shadows which is a pity, in fact I have added more shadow than actually existed on the day. Warm shadows using Transparent Brown.

I have left the barge with its reflections to do, so something colourful amongst all that green and brown. That I think, will make an enormous difference. We shall see.

PS I had my first sale from my Artfinder site recently, which was the nice little painting of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, so rather pleased about that. Will there be another, I ask myself? We live in hope, but quite a competitive site

Scene from Basingstoke Canal as Painting Idea

Canal Picture

The next exhibition I need to prepare for is themed on waterways, so I need to get busy. I need 10-12 paintings ready to hang in February.

Canals are a good source of subjects. This is the Basingstoke Canal fairly near to where I live. We walk the dog along the towpath, and keep an eye out for something that is looking suitable to paint

The Basingstoke Canal isn’t very long. It was cut in the c18 like so many and came off the Wey Navigation which already ran into the Thames, and thus into the Pool of London. The intention was to cut an inland waterway from London to Southampton. Britain was at war with France, and coastal vessels sailing from London to south coast ports were in danger of attack. However the canal only reached Basingstoke, a small town then, when the railway started pushing out of London towards Southampton in the early c19, and soon the canal became obsolete and started to fall into disrepair. In the 1930s a tunnel close to a place called Odiham, collapsed, and there was no reason to repair it. This old tunnel became a bat sanctuary. Bats are protected, so there is no possibility of the tunnel being excavated, so today the canal only goes as far as Odiham

It was generally run down for years, overgrown and in some parts dried out. Volunteers and enthusiasts cleared out the undergrowth, repaired lock gates, and reflooded the dry sections.

Today the canal exists for leisure craft and for wild life. We don’t get many barges along the Basingstoke Canal unfortunately, as the distance is short and there are many locks to be negotiated, so the one in the picture was worth photographing. Not far behind, just off this picture is another barge coming towards us, under the road bridge, so two together is something of a sight.

So I have started to put a composition together, which I think will be interesting of one barge being tied up on the old wharf of St.Johns, with another one approaching.  St Johns Village where I live, was established by the builders of the canal, Every so often a brick works was established to provide bricks for the walls of the canal. The bridge, which hopefully will appear in the painting is still called Kiln Bridge, as a reminder of the brickmaking .

We will see how it goes.

Horsemanship Painting Finished

Horsemanship in Hungary

Well, this is the finished item

From the last painting, this was really just an exercise in detailing

There were many instances where the brush went too far, when putting in the shadows, so here I have repaired with white gouache. This was mostly around the legs of the second lead horse, so his forelegs do now, I think, look as they are catching the sunlight. Also I have redefined the ears and manes of some horses, which look a bit brighter now.

I kept looking and looking at what I thought was the finished item, thinking it was very black and white. Not that I have used any black whatsoever in this painting, just my usual mix of violet and transparent brown, but the darks did seem to veer towards black which bothered me. To get some colour back into the picture, I glazed the horses with dilute Alizarin Crimson, which has helped considerably, I think. It isn’t quite so obvious from the jpg, but better in the original, where some of the horses have taken on a strawberry hue, which is more convincing than before.

I have reinforced the pink muzzles, and given the rider a pink waistcoat in stead of a black one. He was wearing a white cockade in his hat, which I have changed to a crimson one.

The last horse painting Wild Horses in the Camargue did well. Let’s hope this one does too

I have just signed off my entry papers for next February’s exhibition in the Guildford Institute which is very much themed on paintings of waterways, so I shall be busy now preparing for that. Still, it is good to have that pressure

Horsemanship Painting Partway

Horsemanship painting partway

This is the story so far

Since the drawing I have lightly put in the shadows with Ultramarine violet, and allowed to rest for a while. The background trees and fence posts I have made deliberately hazy, hopefully to give the effect of the dust storm kicked up by the horses’ hooves. The horses were travelling at a decent canter, as I remember, and the day was hot and dry, so plenty of dust for us all to enjoy.

I have started to finish detail, starting with the front row of horses. I have used the same violet mixed with Transparent Brown by Sennelier, which I usually find to be quite a good warm weather shadow colour. In some cases, I needed more than one glaze, and then when that had dried out thoroughly, I started to wonder if I had gone too far. Just as an experiment, I lifted some colour out which enabled me to define muscles on the horses. It was not unlike sculpting in a way, almost carving the horses, and because it is a slow process it gives you time to get this fine detail, correct, hopefully

The characters of the horses seem different. Second from the left looks the most spirited. His head is up, and I see he is wearing the Martingale harness to stop him throwing his head back, which would tempt him to bolt. I think that is what it is called. A long time since I rode, but I remember that danger signal when the horse would throw its head back and then charge. Great fun if you have a long run for him to do it in. Scary otherwise.

The one on the left seems to be feeling the heat. They had worked hard, that is for sure

I would like to introduce a splash of hot colour somewhere, either Cadmium Red or Orange. Maybe something attached to the bridle like a ribbon or cockade. Not sure yet so will have to think. It needs something, I feel

 

Little Frog Painting Part Finished

Little Frog Part Finished

Well, we are about half way with the study of the little frog, photographed on his leaf in the wetlands of the Danube Delta. We saw some really impressive examples of wildlife that day, but the frog and his colony were the only ones interested in keeping still for the camera!

I started with my foundation mix of raw sienna and Naples yellow, across the whole sheet of paper. I let that go hard overnight, and worked in a pale green around the frog, in a patchy manner to simulate hopefully the puddles on the leaf surface. The green was mixed from Antwerp blue and Cadmium Yellow.

This becomes a glazing exercise with each coat going rock hard overnight. I don’t use a hair dryer myself unless I’m in a hurry. I prefer the paint to dry naturally so that the paper goes back to its original shape

I used the same green over the frog, twice. After that cadmium yellow followed by burnt sienna, and by that time I am trying to get some texture and shadow into the frog’s surface, I was hoping to see some granulation going on, but very little happening as yet

I shall continue building up the shadow with some dark brown, and that will contribute to the final result

The exhibition at the Royal Surrey Hospital is finished, and the results are in. I have sold five paintings which is a result. The ones in question are Bosham harbour and Church, Wild Horses of the Camargue, the Venice painting of San Giorgio Maggiore with Gondola, Fishing Boats of Beer and RHS Wisley Gardens

I think without checking that these are in my gallery

Pleased with that after such a poor start to the year

The Little Green Frog, starting the drawing

Little Frog

Something completely different to architecture this time, so really not sure how it will end up

You may remember that I posted the photograph of the frog a few weeks back, just after getting back from our trip down the Danube. We had been out in the wetlands of the Danube Delta to look at the fabulous wildlife there. Most of it was exotic, but moving too fast for photography, well at least my standard of photography anyway

The pelican were fascinating. We don’t have them in the UK, so watching them feed was very intriguing They seem to cooperate with the cormorants, who dive deep, which drives the fish to the surface, whereupon the pelican scoop them up in their elastic shopping bag of a beak

I just could not get a picture of them doing that which is a shame , because that would have made a really good subject for a painting. All I had time to photograph was my friend the frog. Actually there were colonies of them, basking in the intense heat and humidity, each one on a lily leaf. They did not seem in the least perturbed by the small boat gliding through the leaves, so very kindly posed for a picture

It will be interesting working out which colours to use on this painting. A background mix of raw sienna and Naples yellow as an undercoat, I think, and maybe a very pale green glaze , after this has gone hard. There will be some masking out of small details like feet, as the green round the frog will have to be darkened. The other colours will possibly be burnt sienna and burnt umber, which I will decide when I have seen the initial glazes.

The exhibition is still on at the Royal Surrey Hospital, with just another week to run. I have sold two to date, namely the painting of RHS Wisley Gardens and Bosham Harbour and Church. The latter is actually going home to Bosham as it is a wedding present for someone getting married in the church in the picture, which is rather nice. Also someone has promised to send their cheque in for one of the Venice paintings but that is only a pledge at the moment.

Would be nice to have one more. but two is respectable out of twelve paintings entered

Canals of Venice: the finished painting

Canals of Venice

The finished painting which I have just framed, which will go in “The Railings” exhibition on Saturday, where I hope it may bring me more luck than those in the Royal Surrey Hospital have done. This exhibition  has been deathly quiet so far. Hard to explain this, as exhibitions at RSCH have always been so busy. Still there is yet time

The railings exhibition is a local show held at Pirbright in Surrey under the auspices of the Pirbright Art Club, with whom I paint. The exhibition is outdoor, so we pray for dry weather, and held outside the Pirbright Village Hall, which is a lovely Victorian building with beautiful iron railings. We hang our paintings on the railings, hence the name. It makes for a colourful and impressive display, and we hope for sales.

I enjoyed doing this painting as I always enjoy painting Venice. I sometimes wish I could get away from it but am always pulled back. There was considerable work in the underpainting on this one which can be tedious, so I took advice from a colleague, who advised finishing one detail, he said, which gives you that necessary boost to carry on. I finished the Gothic window in the middle of the picture, before I did anything else which I do think gave me encouragement to carry on.

When my grandchildren get back from their holiday late this week, we have a painting day lined up so I might try out the Little Green Frog which could amuse us all.

Canals of Venice: the Painting Partway

Canals of Venice partway

The story so far

I have been concentrating on the building opposite with all that orange rendering and patchy paintwork. The walls took me quite a while, as I used several undercoats starting with my favourite raw sienna and Naples yellow mix, which gives it some backlighting. It took several coats of dilute orange before it started to look orange, and finally I scrubbed orange pigment straight from the tube to get that patchy, water-damaged effect

I decided to finish detail the Gothic window. I do that sometimes so that I can look at something which encourages me to go on. I was pleased with it, once I had finished, says he who shouldn’t. I think I colour matched correctly the timber screen or whatever it is in the window. That took several coats of cadmium red over Burnt Sienna, which surprised me as that red is so strong. The texture looked like dry, flaky varnish so I hope I got that right. I used some blue in the windows which gave a pleasant relief to all that orange

Once I had put the brown shadow in, the window suddenly came to life. The carvings stood out, and the window under the screen took on some depth. So far so good

I then detailed the two windows on the ground floor, including the one with a rusty iron grille, which seemed to work quite well

I ploughed some cadmium red into the far left building which started to look authentic Venetian. I shall probably lose that when I mount the picture. How often does that happen

There is still plenty of detailing to do, which becomes tiring after a while which is why I have stopped to write this. I would like to finish and frame this for The Railings exhibition in Pirbright, as all my other work is at the Royal Surrey. May do possibly

Still no news from the Royal Surrey, but one of my paintings has been put on reserve on my Artfinder site, which indicates interest at least. I think one sale would be like a starting pistol for this year to finally get going.

I must not moan. I love painting and would continue to do it even if I never sold another picture, although what I would do with them I do not know!

Royal Surrey Hospital 2017

RSCH 2017

My co-exhibitor and I set up our exhibition at the Royal Surrey Hospital in the Peter Thompson Gallery last Friday. I am showing twelve framed paintings, and you may recognise some from previous postings. All new work as far as this gallery is concerned for this year

My colleague is showing 24 pictures, so quite a varied collection of work

So far, this year has been bleak as far as sales are concerned. I don’t know why. Last year i was selling one a month from my web site plus exhibitions. Maybe it is the Brexit factor!

There has been no communication from the hospital to date this week. The organisers are very quick to let us know of any sales or even serious enquiries, so I fear the worst. No news is bad news, as they say

I have a serious feeling of foreboding about this exhibition. I have shown here since I started painting, nearly twenty years ago, and have always sold, sometimes in large quantities, so if I score a duck this year, it will be my first.

We have three more weeks so time for something to happen. Not that my finances depend on selling paintings, it’s just that I like to turn them over to make room for new creations. Still, time yet. We shall see