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.

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Barcelona: to continue with the painting of the Church of the Sacred Family

Church of the Sacred Family

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

Painting Someone Else’s Photo

With their permission of course

A typical square in the south of France

This was really something of a diversion, while I considered where my priorities lay, for the next painting.

This exercise is really part of a competition, which appealed to me. I don’t usually enter competitions as I never get anywhere, but what intrigued me with this one, was, that it was using ball-point pen with watercolour. Something I had thought of doing but for some reason, not got round to .

This took me back to the days before I retired. I worked for a company that made specialist furniture and fittings for the hotel and restaurant industry. I designed things to customer specification, which is a grand term for drawing out from people what they wanted, and then sketching them during the conversation, until we arrived at a solution. This is very good drawing practice and I can recommend it.

Ball point works well on a hot pressed surface, the motion is fluid and the image is instant. You can’t rub out of course which can be a problem. It doesn’t work very well on cold-pressed watercolour paper which is what I use. The ball clogs and pulls at the paper

Nonetheless it was a useful exercise and interesting to see how it ended up. I sent my entry in after all, very much tongue in cheek. If I never mention it again, you will know that it bombed

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

Venice: The Old Fish Market finished and framed

The Old Fish Market, Venice

Finally completed and framed! It seems to have been a long time coming. I have shown it framed as because of its size and shape, I can only offer this painting in a framed condition. That will be fine for a local exhibition, but not sure about sending it, although the shipper I use is very good and is used to packing antiques, so will just have to investigate the cost side of things.

I used one of my own photographs as a reference for this painting. Looking down from one of the old palaces opposite, this view was nicely framed by Gothic windows which I have obviously not included. That could be an entirely different painting at another time.

For now, I will rest this painting in anticipation of the next show, of which there are various coming up

I now have to think of my next subject. The Basilica of the Sagrada Familia is in my mind to do, but also is the local church in Shere Village. I will have to think

Venice: Watercolour Painting of Old Fish Market Completed

Detail from Old Fish Market Completed

The painting is finished. All in watercolour, my usual medium. This picture is just a detail, as the complete painting is long, about 50 centimetres , and as the height is only 20 centimetres, is consequently too long for the camera.

I have frames purely for these long panoramics, as I call them. They work well and are popular, and when I have framed this one , will photograph it again, which will show it off to better advantage.

As always, as I finish a painting, I have to start thinking about the next, and trying to decide in my mind what it will be. I think, and especially as I have been there recently, I might well paint something from Barcelona. The obvious candidate is the Basilica of the Sacred Family, which is breath taking. I did bring back some good photographic references, so should be able to do something worthwhile with that subject. I should make a start on that and get it at least part underway, before we undertake our next journey, which will be Rome, and goodness knows what I will bring back from there. Trevi Fountain, St.Peter’s, Spanish Steps, the list goes on and on.

To be thought about.

Venice, the Old Fishmarket Painting, Work in Progress

The Old Fishmarket in Venice, Work in Progress

In between doing other things, I have been working on this long painting of the Old Fish Market and neighbouring buildings along the Grand canal.

I started with my favourite Mediterranean sky colour, Phthalo Blue mixed with Cobalt Blue, worked into a mix of Raw Sienna and Naples Yellow as a basis for the buildings and then back into the sky colour for the water.. I have given the water one coat of Phthalo Green, which has had no effect whatsoever, so will have to go over it again. I do want it to look green rather than just a mirror image of the sky

The rest of the painting is mostly painstaking detailing. I have put in some deep shadow in places and have done a few windows, but must summon up the strength to do more. But this where we are for the moment, crossing my fingers that all will be well in the end.

I quite enjoyed putting in the red and green blinds on the market building. They were part of the attraction of the scene. But as I always say, the painting must be finished before a judgement can be made

Just a reminder of the actual scene

My very bad photograph can act as a reminder of the scene that I am trying to capture in paint.

Whilst writing, I extend deepest sympathy to the people of France for the fire at Notre Dame de Paris. Very sad moment. It will be rebuilt and be glorious again but upsetting for now

Barcelona in March 2019

The Church of the Sacred Family

Gaudi’s famous basilica which is nearing completion. The target date is 2026, which will be the centenary of the architect’s death

Lovely to go here again. We were here two years ago, but impossible to tire of the magnificent interior. The colours from the sun, through the stained glass windows are mind-blowing. The colours range from cold to hot, and depend on the time of day, as to which colour bathes the nave. We were there in the afternoon, so everything was red and orange

I did write more about the interior when we were here last, and took more pictures, so possible to go back through the archives if you want to.

The statues on the exterior I find incredible, modern yet seemingly correct. When I say modern, perhaps I should say c20 now, as we are looking at Gaudi’s version of Art Nouveau which I find as elegant and awe inspiring as any style from history. He was a devout man we are told, and certainly his work reads like an act of worship

I took several pictures of the building from outside. This one is from the park opposite, and I might paint from this. I haven’t tried to paint the basilica yet, so might give it a go. The park was solid with people, so had to jockey for position in order to take pictures.

We were staying as before in Sitges and came in by train to Barcelona which only takes about 40 minutes. Trains are frequent and also cheap in Spain. Not like the fares in the UK which are eye-watering these days, and which nobody seems to control. Affordable public transport will take cars off the road, but no one has the message yet. Rant over.

I did manage a painting of Sitges a few years back, of the delightful San Sebastian beach, which I append. Lovely place to chill out

San Sebastian Beach in Sitges

This was done in March a few years back. Not as warm as this year, and deserted except for dog-walkers and everyone in anoraks. This year it was a pleasant 20c with a gentle breeze, as near to perfect as you could get

Swans on Basingstoke Canal Painting Completed

Swan Family on the Basingstoke Canal

The painting is completed. I can see plenty wrong with it, but I still like it and it was interesting to do. You may remember that I started with quite a lot of masking fluid, in fact I painted with masking fluid. The only problem with that, is that you can’t tell what you have done, until you remove the masking, and that is further on in the process. By then, it is too late.

However, despite mistakes which I regret, I think I have covered my tracks sufficiently for the painting to be acceptable. Others will, of course, make the judgement for me

The cygnets, I like, and these were done in a mix of transparent brown and ultramarine violet. Undiluted brushfuls of the same pigment put in the darks in the reeds, where the bank joined the water. The original is more dramatic than the photograph, which always happens despite all my efforts.

I put some white body paint into the water to strengthen the reflections, otherwise the highlights on the birds is from the white paper.

This one will go forward for my next exhibition which is at the Guildford Institute in April, and now I must think of painting something else.

The Swan Painting at an Interim Stage

Swan Painting about halfway

Well, some work has been done on the background

I have used successive coats of darker and darker green amongst the reeds and grasses of the river bank. Towards the end I was mixing the green with a dark blue still trying to get that feeling of deep shadow amongst the reeds

I have now removed all the masking fluid, which took me a little while as there was a lot of it. Also I had to go carefully in case I tore the paper. I am happy to say that I didn’t , which was good because often when masking is left on for a while, it can prove difficult to remove.

The result is still a mess, but as I always say, finish the painting

The swans need tidying and finishing in detail. The painting is about them after all

Likewise the reeds where I have gone back to the white paper, need finishing in a light but realistic colour, raw sienna probably or a pale green

If I cannot get sufficient definition using just watercolour, then I could use some gouache or even pastel if absolutely necessary