Langstone Mill Reworked

Langstone Mill

This is probably the last painting that I made of Langstone Mill, a couple of years ago, and which sold easily, being a popular subject. I am going to do it again, but differently. I have been painting what I call “panoramics”, which are completely horizontal subjects in  frames about 60 centimetres long but only 21 high, and they have been successful so far

I have done this twice now, and both sold relatively easily. One was of the beached fishing boats at Beer in Devon, and the other was of Bosham Harbour, again an old favourite. They can both be viewed on my website davidharmerwatercolour.co.uk.

Langstone is a little way down the coast from Bosham, and again a place beloved of sailors and painters alike. Another salt water creek, a misty and lonely shoreline even today, the place exudes atmosphere, especially when the weather is on the turn. I am hoping to do a totally different sky to anything I’ve done before. So far I have just started some drawing work but nothing to show as yet

It does have some history. It was a medieval commercial port for the neighbouring town of Havant, trading in exports of leather goods, especially parchment from Havant whilst engaged in coastal traffic generally. It was the link with nearby Hayling Island, either by causeway which was built by the Romans from chalk and flint, we are told, or by boat bringing in supplies to the priory on Hayling at the time.

Barges went out from Langstone to the sandbanks, where they grounded themselves and loaded shingle until the tide turned and they headed back to port. This was sold up and down the country for road mending, and carried on until the early c20.  Skeletons of some of these old hulks can still be seen sticking out of the mud, and again add to the atmosphere

There are two pubs, and the older of the two, now called The Royal Oak, commemorates the escape of Charles Stuart after the Battle of Worcester. He and his comrade in arms, Henry Lord Moffat hid in an oak tree to avoid capture. After making their perilous way south to the coast, they reached Lyme Regis in Dorset where they tried to get a ship to France. Without any luck, they made their way eastwards port by port, and eventually came to Langstone. No luck there either, although they did eat oysters at the pub,and as everyone knows, they met someone in Shoreham further east, who ran a coal barge and he took them to France.

Yet another romantic story attached to Langstone to add to the atmosphere. Let’s hope I can catch some of this in the painting

 

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New Haw Lock on the Wey Navigation Finished Painting

New Haw Lock Finished Painting

This painting refers back to one of my rare outdoor painting trips with the Pirbright Art Club, when we went out to New Haw Lock on the Wey Navigation. An ancient waterway, the Navigation connects Godalming with the Thames, and is part river and part canal system, which is why it is called a navigation and not a canal.

The lock-keeper’s cottage is easily the worst house that I’ve ever drawn in my life, and I should be ashamed. Well I am. I have managed to crop out most of it and just left enough to give some colour and relief against the trees. The proportions are wrong. Perfectly correct when I sketched this scene on the day, but somehow when I enlarged and transferred the sketch both proportions and perspective went out of the window. I don’t know where my head was that day.

As I was about to leave, these two girls arrived to open the lock gates. Here they are opening the sluice gates to fill the lock with water before opening the gates. I photographed them quickly thinking they might be useful to put in the picture, as sometimes these scenes can be improved with the addition of one or two figures.

In actual fact, they became the picture, as I pushed the house more and more out of sight. Part of me still considers focusing on the two girls completely, without including any house at all, but can’t decide on that. The two figures are sharper on the painting than they are in the photograph

I’m busy getting paintings together for another exhibition in the Leatherhead Theatre in October, so would like to include this one, if I can

Looking forward now to working on something new, as I have been working on New Haw Lock for some time now and could do with a change. As for what I shall do next, I think I will do another long panoramic picture, probably of Langstone Harbour, which I have done before but not as a panoramic. The last one that I did, of Bosham, I sold recently from the web site, so could do with something else.

New Haw Lock the drawing ready for painting

Girls on New Haw Lock 2Girls on New Haw Lock

Since the last post on the subject of New Haw Lock, I started to come off the idea of just painting the lock keeper’s cottage with the lock gates. It was a little bit cliche d. very attractive and very popular but I decided to put my sketch aside, and ran through the photographs that I had taken during the course of the morning

There were many of them on the camera and also on the phone camera which was quicker to use if anything interesting came up

These two girls came up as possibles. They had jumped off their boat whilst boyfriends did the steering, and each manned the winding mechanism of a lock gate, really putting their backs into the work. I picked the best action shots that I could find, and compiled them into a drawing

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I am sorry that the drawing is faint and I hope you can make out the figures. I drew them freehand from the screen onto tracing paper, and then moved them around the paper until they looked right, I hope.

What I like about them is that their tops are bright white which will stand out against the deep shadows behind them. It was a very hot day, one of the last of our heatwave, and they are wearing baseball caps with big peaks, which we nearly all wear nowadays as they are so effective against bright sun. So no faces to draw which is for me a great bonus.

This may prove to be a bad decision. I have actually started the painting and I will not publish an interim as it is such a mess but will post the finished item, no matter how it turns out

If anyone missed my previous post, this came from one of my very rare plein air painting days next to New Haw Lock on the Wey Navigation in Surrey. An ancient waterway from the c17, it connected Guildford and then Godalming commercially with the Thames right up to 1959. It still does but only for pleasure craft nowadays.

Plein Air Painting at New Haw Lock

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Something I rarely find time for is painting outdoors, but recently did, with our local art group at New Haw Lock, which is one of the many locks along the Wey Navigation in Surrey. The Navigation dates from the c17, and made the river Wey navigable by cutting canals across the meanders and shallows. Thus this mix of river and canal made the Wey navigable for barge traffic from Guildford to the Thames. Amazingly this traffic by horse drawn barge went on until 1959. By then the navigation had been cut through to Godalming in the south, and had been especially useful in carrying gunpowder from nearby Chilworth Mill through to the Thames and on into the Port of London

During the c18 the Wey Navigation linked with the River Arun, and on down to the south coast, but that leg was short lived and proved uneconomic to run. That section fell into disuse, although some sections have been revived by conservationists

In the picture, one of the many lock keeper’s cottages, very charming and very paintable still. New Haw is somewhat underrated and is easily missed when driving by.

We found shade to sit, as the day was hot and became hotter towards midday. The morning was enough for me, so for about 2-3 hours during which time, I worked out my composition, and just sketched putting in the shadows which of course changed quickly. Photography helps the sketch book and I recorded several stages. It is my intention to finish the painting in my “studio”, but for the moment need to finish my Alhambra painting

I shall look forward to painting the New Haw lock. This is a typical Surrey scene and a typical Surrey cottage. I will attach my drawing. I regretted afterwards only taking an A3 pad which didn’t give me enough space but at home i can use a half sheet which will enable me hopefully to include the lock in its entirety

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Now all I have to do is to decide whether or not to include the foreground tree which obscures much of the cottage but nevertheless provides some interesting lights and darks

Bosham Creek, the finished painting

Bosham Creek

This is the finished painting, which I happen to like, although I will admit to one or two scary moments

I have managed to keep to a rather limited palette. Cadmium Yellow which I mentioned before and Ultramarine Violet, together with Transparent Brown which I softened with Violet. This is still my favourite shadow colour. I used Vermilion for some distant red clouds behind the trees, and also for the red paint along the hull of the hulk on the beach.

After getting the sky about right or so I thought, as the dark clouds coming in from the sea might have been darker, I put in the distant buildings along the shore line of Bosham village. The steeple of the Saxon church, so well-known as to need little introduction, is probably the only building that needs to be recognisable, although I have done my best with the others, plunged in shadow as they are.

To the right are two beached boats, one clinker built and the other which looks as though made of fibre-glass, so not the easiest to convey in watercolour. The dunes with some coarse grass rise in front of them, and make a convenient break

The beached hulk is one of those things that are fun to paint. So many details and textures with rusting metal and flaking paintwork on the timber. I mentioned that someone had daubed white paint on the prow, which I could have left off but decided to include. I daubed masking fluid on and then overpainted several times with the dark brown mix. When the masking is removed, then that should look like white paint over rough brown planking. That was the plan. I hope it has worked.

The real test of course is getting the light right and the highlights in the right place. I hope I have done that. The camera again has bleached out the colours, try as I might, so in reality the shadows are much deeper, and appear more convincing. Oh well, in the scheme of things, not the worst problem one could have.

Going back to the Bosham Painting

Bosham Underpainting

We are going back now to before the last two commissions, which I was pleased to take on, challenging though the last one was. I still await the final judgement from the client on that one, as she comes back from holiday on the 16th only, so fingers crossed under the table on that one.

I had started this painting of Bosham Creek, or rather drawing, with just the main elements in place.

So far I have added two dilute coats of watercolour across the page. Violet running into yellow, mostly with a watery coat of vermilion over the whole thing when bone dry. I dashed some pure yellow pigment into the area where I think the sun is setting. In the photograph this yellow shrieks at you. In reality it doesn’t. I am often intrigued how the camera sometimes disagrees with the human eye. Possibly one of those paintings which won’t sell on the internet, alongside a few others.

The hulk on the beach, I am hoping will provide most of the interest. The detailing on this sort of subject is usually a lot of fun, and tends to draw the eye. I noticed in the photographic reference, that someone has daubed white paint along the prow. I have used masking fluid here in a dry-brush fashion. Going over this later with dark brown pigment, and then removing the masking, should leave the illusion of white painted roughly over dark brown. I hope that makes sense. We will see later if it works or not. I have done it successfully in the past, which is of course no guarantee of success in the future

Since taking this picture I have started to darken the clouds and will gradually go on, wet over dry until I like what I see, hopefully. That will be the judgement, not getting them too dark or yet too wishy-washy. We shall see, and much still to do.

The Finished Docklands Commission

Finished Dockland Commission

And this, I believe to be the final draft. I hope so. I am just starting to get tired of it being continually on the easel

However as cautiously as I can say, I am happy with it. I have kept within the terms of the commission, which was not easy, whilst at the same time, adding something myself to stop this being five copies of five photographs.

The Canary Wharf skyline has had some shadows added which have helped the definition. The little cranes even give a feeling of distance

Lensbury Circus, the second picture, that was difficult. Never easy to make anything of office blocks with lots of windows, we usually have an interesting sky or something to alleviate the sterility of square buildings. Not in this case as we are working with five vignettes, so all I could think of was to put some extra shadow over the front of the building and abstract those windows. More of an impression really

Bottom right, the pub, I think worked well. I used Cadmium Yellow for the umbrellas and the plants, which I think worked in conjunction with the violet used on the front of the building

The other two images I talked about on the last post, and still the little ferry boat is my favourite

The client is away until the end of June, so I will present the finished work then with fingers crossed under the table

To Continue with the Docklands Commission

Five Image Docklands Commission Partway Only

Well, out of the mist, some definition is starting to appear here and there

They wanted the Canary Wharf skyline to run along the top. Incidentally I photographed this on the easel so I am sorry that the images appear slanted. Also there are some shadows and stuff which shouldn’t be there. Just to make Canary Wharf more interesting I have used sunset colours building up oranges and vermillion across the windows. I have used vermillion and cobalt blue blended for soft shadows, which works, I believe. Little cranes help the feeling of distance. I think that picture is pretty well there, and I was asked to make that image soft anyway. I like to take the client’s instruction into account if I can, but sometimes they have to be persuaded to do things differently.

I finished the little ferry boat. Once I started I just could not stop. I think she will be my favourite image of the five, probably because I like painting boats anyway. For the background I have repeated the Canary Wharf Skyline, which is geographically impossible, but infinitely more interesting.

The pub in the bottom right, is ready for its next coat, which will be Transparent Brown over the Violet, which will give more definition to the building itself. I think yellow for the umbrellas, but I just need to work out which one.

The image which scares me and which I have made a start on is the crescent shaped building of Lensbury Circus. At the moment it is looking rather bleak, as though the area is run down, which of course it isn’t, far from it. All those windows too. They may have to succumb to a sort of lost and found treatment

But there are more positives than negatives so I will get back to it, but not tonight. I have spent hours on this one, but there are five pictures instead of one, which I should have realised when I took it on. Luckily I’m not on piece work or I would starve.

London Docklands Commission

Canary Wharf Skyline

The iconic skyline of Canary Wharf which makes a nice silhouette against an evening sky. The sky has a dull orange glow which should take some pale blue outlines nicely, whilst at the same time, get some orange reflections into some of the windows.

This is only one of the images I have been asked to paint, and then arrange them on one sheet.

Probably one of the more testing commissions that I have been given. This is being commissioned for a work colleague who is returning to his native land in August, so one wants to get it right. Scale and perspective have been abandoned as I try to get everything to fit, but we are moving forward inch by inch

Two of the other images are office blocks, and I have to say that glass and concrete are subjects that I tend to avoid in watercolour. The only saving grace of glass buildings is that they mirror the sky and can appear dramatic. One of them has a tint of green in the glass which makes it more interesting

The pub where they all went has something about it in style, and so,  that I can make something of. The other shot is of the ferry that crosses the Thames from the Docklands Hilton Pier, and of course, anything to do with boats is always a good subject for painting

This has already taken me a long time and will take more. Basically five drawings instead of one, so I should have charged more but never mind

Bosham Harbour goes on hold yet again. Incidentally the lady collected her wedding venue painting and was thrilled with my interpretation, for which I am relieved and delighted.

Churchill place (1)