A view I know well, having sailed out of Portsmouth at one time or another over the years, either to the Isle of Wight or to Cherbourg or to Jersey
I knew the Harbour before the Spinnaker Tower was erected and before the great shopping centre of Gunwharf Quays was built underneath. On the immediate right hand side is Old Portsmouth, as the name suggests the historic part which is associated with great names and with great events. Admiral Lord Nelson sailed from here on numerous occasions, including the last fateful expedition when he engaged the French fleet under Admiral Villeneuve off Cape Trafalgar in 1805. Most people know what happened and both admirals were killed.
The masts of Nelson’s flagship Victory is visible in this picture on the left hand side in the distance. Victory is in dry dock in Portsmouth dockyard, and has been for many years, certainly since I was a schoolboy.
Samuel Pepys the diarist was here often in his role as First Sea Lord. The Duke of Buckingham, George Villiers, favourite of King James 1, was assassinated in 1628 in the local hotel. Catherine of Braganza from Portugal disembarked here to be betrothed to Charles II, and there are many more famous instances.
So far I have only just finished the drawing, which may be too faint to show up, but I will try later. The big problem will be showing the Spinnaker Tower to its best advantage. It has the sun on it, so needs to be bright white against the sky. I think it will have to be masked out, despite its size, which I am not looking forward to. All that before I start to paint
This is a busy time anyway, but I have had to finalise the book illustrations as these are being called for, so I have had to leave this painting for quite a while unfortunately. I have really enjoyed the illustrating work which has taken me to fresh fields, which is always satisfying. Sadly the one and only real exhibition that I would have done this year, due to have started on the 21st, was cancelled as our area moved into Tier 4. Great shame as this would have been at Denbies Winery, the large vineyard near Dorking, where I haven’t shown before. But I must not lose sight of the fact that this year has been amazing for me, as far as online sales are concerned. Eleven sales this year, of which three are international, perhaps unimpressive for many artists, is for me a record. Due to the Covid factor I know, with people locked down at home.
Not brilliant but perhaps will show where I am at.
Still proceeding as though real exhibitions are going to take place, I am looking for one more painting for the Denbies Exhibition in December. Langstone Mill is or was a favourite, although I haven’t painted it for a while now, so thought I would try it albeit in different colours and moods
So far I have got as far as a basic drawing on tracing paper which I will transfer to watercolour paper, and then see where I go with it
I think I might try a deep sunset which has worked with paintings of Bosham. Langstone is quite well known. It used to be a port from Medieval times until the early part of the 20th century, and was very important in its day. It was known as a haunt for smuggling as so many of those little creeks on the Hampshire coast were. I always thought that they would bring ashore brandy and tobacco, and possibly they did, but the big earner was tea. Tea was wrapped in a waterproof cover and stowed in barrels, which were roped together to make a raft. Small boats from Langstone went out and met foreign luggers mid Channel, and towed these rafts back to port. Plenty of local people happy to make storage available in return for a cut. There is even one instance of the local rector storing contraband in the church cellars
So quite a romantic place, which is quiet now. The old mill is still very paintable. The tower is all that’s left of the old windmill. The sails were removed in the late 19th century, and the place left to rot. The building far left was the old tide mill, and I remember as a boy watching the water from the mill pond thunder through. Rescued in the 1930s by local artist Flora Twort, the old mill was fully restored for residential use, and has been inhabited ever since. The architect was a Freud, son of Sigmund Freud. I have sadly never been invited inside but from what I can judge, the restoration has been very successful.
The mill has been associated with artists and writers ever since. Let’s hope they approve
As I said in my last post, I am looking for another horse painting, ideally of horses on the move, to replace Horses in the Snow which sold last week
This one should work hopefully. You can’t tell from this sketch but horses are cantering through water, so a lot of splashing going on which will give the idea of movement hopefully to the picture. A good excuse to do a lot of flicking and splashing during the painting as well. One of those defining moments when you throw paint at the picture or spray with an old toothbrush and hope it lands in the right places
I have painted Camargue horses before. We were there a few years ago, and they are magnificent to watch. I don’t trouble much with background for these shots, just paint the horses and sky the same blue/pink/grey combination, and then build up the horses with dark shadow
It worked last time, which is no guarantee of future success of course
I am starting another painting of Bosham, this time from a different angle. This started because I want something to use in one of those long frames I bought. Bosham has worked well in the past but I can’t repeating that same shot, so this time I am standing on the causeway which floods at high tide and which gives good possibilities for an interesting composition
So far I have drawn the cottages on the water’s edge and the church behind. I am not sure whether you can make that out and will include a close up at the end
What is that splash of yellow? Something I haven’t tried before. I have laid down the basis of a low sun across the water. The plan is to wash over that with the sky and sea colour. I may well live to regret doing that, but sometimes you have to try something a little different.
I shall wash over with a mix of blue and vermillion, and hopefully get a low lit subject. We shall see.I will leave the close up of the drawing
I hope that is a bit clearer. The wall on the corner is foreground. The posts mark the edge of the road which will be flooded in this picture
This isn’t something that I usually try. The example above is one of many hundreds of images by celebrated watercolour artist Judi Whitton. She starts with a line drawing in ink, and then uses watercolour. It would never have occured to me to imitate this style, had I not read her article in one of the recent painting magazines in which she outlined her method. It seemed like an invitation
The point that she was illustrating was what to leave out, as much as what to put in. In other words ” less is more”
That would be a useful lesson for me, as I never know when to stop, which is a common fault, so it might be worth me trying this exercise to see what I can learn. More importantly what will I remember for the future
Likewise, and this is something I have always tried to do, is the power of suggestion, rather than painting in every detail. If that comes out of this exercise, even better
For now I have done a line drawing from one of my old photographs of Venice. Quite a lot of her work is architectural, and she has written a book about Venice. In case anyone finds architectural work daunting, her method can be used on a variety of subjects. Probably best to look at her website.
I have used an old photograph from one of my visits, which looks like a corner of the Doge’s palace, and have drastically reduced the detail
I have used the grid method of transferring an image before, but was reminded of it when I went to the Hockney exhibition at the Lightbox in Woking recently. It is very useful especially when you want to enlarge a picture as I do with this one. This is how my drawing has turned out
I have now doubled the image size so that it is about the usual size that I paint, ie 30×40 centimetres. I have traced the drawing now and am about to transfer this image to watercolour paper
The nice thing about using this method is that once the grid is in place on both images, then there is very little, if any, measuring to be done. Drawing or copying within each small square is relatively simple, and gives you a check on perspective so very useful for anything architectural
There is no restriction on size so if you wanted to paint a mural and make it ten times or twenty times the photograph, then you could. You can work the other way, of course, and reduce the size of an image too.
I shall paint this when ready and probably use a completely different colourway than shown in the photograph. Not sure what yet, possibly an evening colour, and may even do two different colour ways from the same drawing, which will save me some time
I’ve just done this from the photograph. This is,of course, a commissioned work and I have to visit the site next week. Seasons have changed so may well look different, but this will do for now to work from. I will take some photographs of my own which I prefer, so that I can clear up some details which are ambiguous at the moment.
For now, there is little more that I can do before I see the actual building, and as I say, the colours have changed. The original photograph that I had was from the summer, and now everything is autumnal. As far as colour schemes are concerned, I prefer that. There should be some bare branches as well.
I just have to hope that the sun will be out, so that we get some lights and darks. For weeks now, the weather has been wet and the skies have been heavy. This is quite hopeless for painting, but as always we must work with what we have got.
Some news from the exhibition at the hospital. I have sold one painting entitled Canals of Venice, so not out for a duck, which is something
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
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
Not by a long way. On this occasion I am the student, and am preparing to follow a demo on Thursday at our local art club. We have been told to prepare in sketch form, a group of objects, and if we wanted to, put in some basic colour. The demonstration is to show how to provide an effective background wet-in-wet, which will one hopes transform this rather ordinary little group of objects into a painting
One of the many advantages of belonging to an art club, is that it gives you the opportunity to experiment with something totally different. Normally I paint town or seascape, so with this I shall be out of my comfort zone as it is called
More after Thursday
Still a lot more to do
We had the demonstration yesterday which really centred around negative painting. The spaces around the glass bottles were made wet, but only a manageable space at a time. Pigment was dropped in and allowed to spread, which gave quite a pleasing effect. Of course, as my subjects were glass, I had to allow the shadows to be visible through the bottles. My problem was that I didn’t have actual bottles to refer to, only a sketch from twenty years ago. I went darker than anyone else, looking for something dramatic, presumably.
The edges are finely masked with Frith masking fluid.
This exercise is by no means finished. Some more shadows need to go in around the base of the jars. The top of the lamp on the right is copper so some red needs to go on which will alleviate the green, and of course the masking needs to come off
I think I will try and finish it, although I don’t have to. it is one of those exercises where learning the method is the aim, not to produce a finished piece of work
Some more interesting topics to come from the art club, including painting with acrylic inks which I haven’t done for many years, so something to look forward to.