Salt Mills at Trapani: the part finished painting


Well, I am moving along slowly, which is the best I can say

There have been quite a few problems over the last couple of weeks, which have demanded my attention. Sadly things that I enjoy, like painting, have had to take second place. Still, every now and then, I creep back to my easel and manage an hour or so. I treat painting as r&r at the moment, and there is no doubt that it soothes the troubled spirit.

I have called this the part finished stage. perhaps more accurate would be to call it the part unfinished stage.

I have put in a Mediterranean sky and water. Phthalo Blue and Cobalt blended seem to work quite well for this. Again I have worked up the distant background in the same colour only deeper, which I think gives it a more faraway look

I have been putting detail into the three mills and adjacent buildings. I have been trying to gradate the tone from one to the other to create the feeling of distance. The nearest will require more work, as this one will have to look really sharp. Detailing the sails will be testing, knowing how much to put in and how much to leave out. I want them to look accurate without looking like a photograph. Oh well, if it were easy it wouldn’t be fun, I suppose

Ironically, the furthest mill presented the least difficulties when it came to painting the sails. Just a flick of a wet brush and that was it. I still have to think about the middle one which will be difficult to get just right. The three bears had the same problem!

I have had to rearrange those low walls to help the composition and to get some reflections in, otherwise there will be nothing in the foreground. No boats here.

Some interesting problems to tackle!

Bosham Harbour: continue with the painting


It seems a long time ago that I touched this painting, and in fact it is the best part of a month, which for me, in between stages this is too long. I have totally lost the thread of what I had planned for this picture, so I shall have to rethink it

We went to Germany for the markets, where I became ill with some virulent chest infection, and then celebrated a family Christmas over three days. Now different branches of the family have flown off to Spain and to Thailand, and so peace descends.After a morning sorting a few things out, I started to look at my easel again, and with confidence surprisingly ebbed away, I picked up my brushes and started to get my mind round the picture and how to tackle it.

If you remember the first post that I did on this painting, you will see that I have added the reflections of the quayside houses and the Saxon church. It may not look much for an afternoon’s work, but that is what it took me

I find with reflections that I do an awful lot of zooming in and out again. That is, I paint a bit and then go to the door and look back. I don’t do a mirror-image reflection, I never do. Some people do and do it well. I like a reflection to look as though it is on water, and not on glass. In other words, it has to wobble a bit, and the colours don’t reach the same intensity as the buildings themselves. But that is me!

I altered some of the houses and gave them a white facade. They were a bit too gloomy, and no distinction between any of them. There were also some flagpoles and masts of boats outside the yacht club to be added.

I am generally happy with the reflections. I think they look like reflections, although one or two need tidying up

The other thing I did was to put shadows into the boats. That has to harden and then I can start on detailing them which will be a long job. I still have to decide on colours. Red for one of the reefed sails and also the spinaker, as that will make a nice reflection. The others to be decided

Decisions, decisions!

Bosham Harbour: the painting started


Some while ago now I finished the drawing of Bosham Harbour and Church, and I posted that. I left it, as I completely messed up the initial wash. It wasn’t something I could correct, so I abandoned the whole thing. Very,very rarely do I do that, but sometimes it is the only way.

I find in situations like that, that walking way is the best thing to do.  Walk round the block, metaphorically speaking and then come back, otherwise you just get more and more frustrated, and make more and more mistakes

My way of walking round the block, was to do the Conkers painting. Completely different and completely unimportant, I was able to unwind and get myself back into finding the colour recipe for conkers which was in my head somewhere. After all that, my little bit of therapy produced a quite usable painting, and I framed it not so long ago, and was pleased with the result. This will go towards my next exhibition which will be in the Guildford Institute in March, not that far away now, so I need to work.

Back to Bosham Harbour, after redrawing the village with sailing boats, I put in a different wash, and played safe. I have no time to experiment. Phthalo blue and Cobalt produce a nice sky/sea colour and across the horizon a band of sunset produced with permanent Rose and Cadmium Orange. I started the blue wash downwards whilst at the same time starting the sunset colour at horizon level and worked upwards so the two met, and blended comfortably. Tricky using two brushes and two palettes at the same time, but it seemed to work

As you can see, I have just been detailing the church and other buildings in various reds and browns. I needed to get those roof tops really bright, and after several different glazes used cadmium red to give them some zing, so that they looked as though bright red evening sun was bouncing off them.

Still a lot of work to do, on reflections and those boats, but that is to come

Still Life with Conkers: Finished Painting


This is the finished painting. Rather laborious but we got there in the end! Every now and then I quite enjoy tackling something like this, not botanical painting exactly, but painting a specimen of fruit or flowers, with some expression thrown in. Textures are tantalising, and making an object look solid on a two-dimensional plane likewise.

I hope I have succeeded. One or two conkers, I feel, I can pick up, but I will let others judge

I talked about the story of conker-playing when I last posted, and how sadly, the gentle art has disappeared amongst schoolchildren, thanks to the interference of the health and safety police. No need for me to dwell on that anymore, only to lament the passing of part of our heritage, which had continued effortlessly from generation to generation. Too easy to blame the iPad! Children that I know like traditional games and playing with their iPads

But enough ranting. Let’s get back to the painting and how it takes shape. I remembered to take a picture of an interim stage, so let’s have a look at that


This is the stage following on from where I left the last post. I have completed a couple more of the conkers, this time with their husks, just to make sure the recipe is actually working. It seems to be!

As a base coat, I painted all the conkers with a bright orange, leaving a soft white spot on each, where the bright light is being reflected. I had already used a pale green for the husks, and had they been fresh from the tree. I could have continued with more green, but they had already gone a yellowy-brown colour, so true to nature, that is what I am doing.

The finished conker colour, I achieved using a succession of reds and browns. I did this wet-into-wet, so it is hard to give a blow by blow account. It is rather like sculpting. Do a bit, stand back and do a bit more

I can tell you, that I used light red, burnt sienna and burnt umber. At the very end, I gave nut and husk a unifying wash of light red, which I think gave them the colour I was looking for. And there it is

Thinking ahead, I have two projects taking shape in my head. One is to carry on with the painting of Bosham Harbour which I drew up and went no farther with. The other is to look back at Notre Dame with Pigeons, and redo the whole thing, removing that ghastly marquee on the left, and also improve the weather, and make the whole thing brighter and sunnier, albeit still winter time

I could also be going to Germany soon for the Christmas markets, so may be able to bring some interesting subject matter back with me

All for the future………….