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.
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.
The foxgloves were really all that was left to do. I took great care with the colour match, yet still they turned out a tad too dark. I did actually remove some pigment which put in some highlight, and I thought they might dry lighter than that, but they didn’t. Perhaps they are a more exotic species.
Having said that, I quite like the colour even if not authentic. They give a welcome relief to all that green
I’m sitting here typing and my spotlight is on the painting, and the flowers look quite good. I shall have to recommend front lighting to anyone who might be interested
Not sorry to put this one to bed and perhaps move onto something else
Still quite a lot of green even though I have left some out. I am hoping that the green effect will be mediated by the two foxgloves in the foreground. I have just removed the masking, and I think the shapes will work well enough. I only have to get the colour right. Permanent rose with Crimson I am told by my reference books, but no clue how much of each so I will have to do some trials first. Also some more green for the stalks but I have a bright green in mind for them
I have put the little figures in on the bridge, and tiny as they are, seem to add some life to the composition. Also they gave me an opportunity to add a spot of hot colour into the painting
The base colour for the painting was from a mix of raw sienna and Naples yellow. This gave a bright light source in the background which lit up one side of the castle conveniently. The bridge was in deep shadow so that seemed to work. I had to tone down some of the reflections in the water, otherwise the painting turned very dark
All now rests on two simple foxgloves which hopefully will relieve the green. They will make or break the composition, so I will need to be careful
The Bosham painting is finished at last. At the end of the day, there wasn’t too much that I could add to the painting on the last post
I completed some details like the spinnaker on the nearest boat. This is now plumper and more realistic. I have added more suggestions of reflections from this boat, which is already in shadow, but some more red around the stern gives a highlight
I have my eye on the next project, which will be from my recent Scotland trip. I haven’t done anything Scottish as far as I can remember, usually too busy with the Mediterranean, so perhaps it’s time to correct that
The subject will be the Eilean Donan Castle which is near the Kyle of Lochalsh, the mainland side of the Skye Bridge. It is a beautiful spot. I have started already doing some sketches just to work out the composition, and when I have something to show, then I will publish
The other good thing was that I received a commission this week to paint a hotel in Bath, a beautiful city, mostly Regency in style and built in a lovely honey-coloured stone. Commissions have been quiet this year and this is the first, so very welcome. It will be one of those paintings that will be enjoyable to do, and again more of that later.
This is the painting so far, which wants tidying up, and at the moment I am just looking at it, and wondering the best way to go
I’m thinking that the nearest boat needs some more detail, but it is also supposed to be in deep shadow, so detail obscured which contradicts
I am going to work on the spinnaker, which needs beefing up. I am not a sailor, but even to me, the spinnaker is rather puny. Quite a lot of sail gets wrapped around this so it needs to look a good deal fatter than I have shown it
In the shadow of the nearest boat, I would like to see more red, which won’t necessarily be correct, but I would like relief from the grey. I have tried to convey the sun catching the stern
Other than that I shall just keep looking, whilst all the time trying not to fiddle, which is a cardinal sin in watercolour.
I am also itching to start on something fresh, a castle in a loch, which I saw in Scotland a couple of weeks ago, which is very dramatic, so I may wrap Bosham up and move on soon
I have made a start. Bosham, always a favourite subject for exhibitions, and I don’t have one ready for my next exhibition which is in October, having sold Bosham Creek at the Guildford Institute.
The drawing is based on an old postcard, which gave me part of the composition, and helped with the relationship of the boat in the foreground, with the shoreline. The other boats I have added from my own library of sketches.
I have added some dark ink lines on the shadow sides of the two boats, and have masked out a tiny boat in the background.
I started to lay in a wash as a base colour. I used Cobalt Blue together with Vermillion. As they mixed on the paper, they have made grey as a basis for shadows to come. Still plenty of red in the sky and sea, although I can play with that when it has dried right out.
I have dabbed out a mark for the evening sun and its reflections across the water, which at the moment is not easy to see.
I am hoping this wash will be enough for background. I don’t want the sky competing with the foreground, but until the painting has dried right out, it will be impossible to say
The painting is complete and as always, with any of my completed paintings, I am loving parts yet totally unsure of some of the details
The trees were in deep shadow in reality. I put them in deep shadow in the painting. Hmm. not sure. The church immediately went into the background. That wasn’t intended either
I really like the cranes which some might find strange. I think of them as part of the sculpture. I don’t think they clash at all with the basilica, magnificent as it is.
Possibly this composition will still work as a painting. I really am not sure
I am going to post it on line and will invite comment, in fact I would be grateful for comment. I did frame the work, and of course anything framed looks better, so nothing conclusive there
I will start on a new work later. Nothing to do with this one, but when I have done that I may well do a second version of Sacred Family and somehow leave out the foreground trees, and see if I am happier with that.
My next exhibition is in October so I have time. Shortly I am heading north to colder climes, Shetland Isles and the Faroes where recorded temperatures are about 11c. Yesterday at home we had 32c so an abrupt change. No painting for a week or so but maybe some sketchbook work, if I am lucky.
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.
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
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