Basingstoke Canal at St.Johns: the Finished Painting

Basingstoke Canal St.Johns Finished

Well, the painting is finished, and it is what the photograph said it would be, a very traditional waterscape, with all the ingredients, water, barges, reflections and so on.

It is not exciting. I haven’t tried anything unusual or dramatic. Nevertheless it will make a useful addition to my February show, which is themed on waterways, and for which, I have little enough at the moment

I do wish that the sun had been shining into my lens when I took the picture, which would have given it an interesting contre jour look, with some dazzle coming off the water, but it could not be. I had to take what I was given. Not many barges use the Basingstoke Canal, and to see one tie up at St.Johns Village was a fairly rare event, and to see another in the distance coming through Kiln Bridge, rarer still. So I took the picture with the best light possible.

I have done contre jour along the canal in the past and the results are exciting even if the subject matter is simple. The other alternative is to go out early on a bright winter’s morning, when the shadows are long, which I might do on another occasion.

I have much to do before February, so I will move on. My son and daughter-in-law were in Amsterdam recently , and took some pictures along the canals on my behalf. Bikes, canals and tall buildings– all the ingredients which spell Amsterdam, so I think I can make a composition from these.

Quite an interesting one to tackle.

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Basingstoke Canal: Watercolour Painting Part Finished Only

Basingstoke Canal Part Finished Only

I haven’t posted for a while, so perhaps now is a good time to publish what I’ve done so far.

I may have said last time that this painting is being based on a scene from my home village of St.Johns in Surrey. The Basingstoke Canal runs through the centre of the village, and in fact the village owes its existence to the canal, really. Cut in the late c18, the canal destined for Southampton, from London, only reached Basingstoke before the coming of the railway made it obsolete. A sort of shanty town grew up at first on the canal side, followed gradually by more prosperous houses as the village became commuter land. It is essentially a c19 working village, not pretty but charming nonetheless. The parish church of St.Johns built by the rector of Old Woking as a chapel of ease, to serve the people, gave the village its name

In the picture, the building in the background is Bellinis, our local Italian restaurant and one which attracts patrons from far afield. Lovely on a summer evening at one of the window tables looking out over the canal. In the painting, the barge is being tied up on the landing strip. The few barges that we get usually tie up here, possibly for coffee al fresco at Bellinis or perhaps access to the village shops.

So far, I haven’t done anything unusual. The palette I have kept simple, starting with my usual raw sienna and Naples yellow mix as a base. Some different greens for different plants. I favour a sap green and raw sienna mix for grass and trees rather than straight sap green. I have also used a yellow mix and also some terre vert for shadows. It was rather a dull day on that occasion, so little in the way of shadows which is a pity, in fact I have added more shadow than actually existed on the day. Warm shadows using Transparent Brown.

I have left the barge with its reflections to do, so something colourful amongst all that green and brown. That I think, will make an enormous difference. We shall see.

PS I had my first sale from my Artfinder site recently, which was the nice little painting of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, so rather pleased about that. Will there be another, I ask myself? We live in hope, but quite a competitive site

Scene from Basingstoke Canal as Painting Idea

Canal Picture

The next exhibition I need to prepare for is themed on waterways, so I need to get busy. I need 10-12 paintings ready to hang in February.

Canals are a good source of subjects. This is the Basingstoke Canal fairly near to where I live. We walk the dog along the towpath, and keep an eye out for something that is looking suitable to paint

The Basingstoke Canal isn’t very long. It was cut in the c18 like so many and came off the Wey Navigation which already ran into the Thames, and thus into the Pool of London. The intention was to cut an inland waterway from London to Southampton. Britain was at war with France, and coastal vessels sailing from London to south coast ports were in danger of attack. However the canal only reached Basingstoke, a small town then, when the railway started pushing out of London towards Southampton in the early c19, and soon the canal became obsolete and started to fall into disrepair. In the 1930s a tunnel close to a place called Odiham, collapsed, and there was no reason to repair it. This old tunnel became a bat sanctuary. Bats are protected, so there is no possibility of the tunnel being excavated, so today the canal only goes as far as Odiham

It was generally run down for years, overgrown and in some parts dried out. Volunteers and enthusiasts cleared out the undergrowth, repaired lock gates, and reflooded the dry sections.

Today the canal exists for leisure craft and for wild life. We don’t get many barges along the Basingstoke Canal unfortunately, as the distance is short and there are many locks to be negotiated, so the one in the picture was worth photographing. Not far behind, just off this picture is another barge coming towards us, under the road bridge, so two together is something of a sight.

So I have started to put a composition together, which I think will be interesting of one barge being tied up on the old wharf of St.Johns, with another one approaching.  St Johns Village where I live, was established by the builders of the canal, Every so often a brick works was established to provide bricks for the walls of the canal. The bridge, which hopefully will appear in the painting is still called Kiln Bridge, as a reminder of the brickmaking .

We will see how it goes.

Canals of Venice: the finished painting

Canals of Venice

The finished painting which I have just framed, which will go in “The Railings” exhibition on Saturday, where I hope it may bring me more luck than those in the Royal Surrey Hospital have done. This exhibition  has been deathly quiet so far. Hard to explain this, as exhibitions at RSCH have always been so busy. Still there is yet time

The railings exhibition is a local show held at Pirbright in Surrey under the auspices of the Pirbright Art Club, with whom I paint. The exhibition is outdoor, so we pray for dry weather, and held outside the Pirbright Village Hall, which is a lovely Victorian building with beautiful iron railings. We hang our paintings on the railings, hence the name. It makes for a colourful and impressive display, and we hope for sales.

I enjoyed doing this painting as I always enjoy painting Venice. I sometimes wish I could get away from it but am always pulled back. There was considerable work in the underpainting on this one which can be tedious, so I took advice from a colleague, who advised finishing one detail, he said, which gives you that necessary boost to carry on. I finished the Gothic window in the middle of the picture, before I did anything else which I do think gave me encouragement to carry on.

When my grandchildren get back from their holiday late this week, we have a painting day lined up so I might try out the Little Green Frog which could amuse us all.

Canals of Venice: the Painting Partway

Canals of Venice partway

The story so far

I have been concentrating on the building opposite with all that orange rendering and patchy paintwork. The walls took me quite a while, as I used several undercoats starting with my favourite raw sienna and Naples yellow mix, which gives it some backlighting. It took several coats of dilute orange before it started to look orange, and finally I scrubbed orange pigment straight from the tube to get that patchy, water-damaged effect

I decided to finish detail the Gothic window. I do that sometimes so that I can look at something which encourages me to go on. I was pleased with it, once I had finished, says he who shouldn’t. I think I colour matched correctly the timber screen or whatever it is in the window. That took several coats of cadmium red over Burnt Sienna, which surprised me as that red is so strong. The texture looked like dry, flaky varnish so I hope I got that right. I used some blue in the windows which gave a pleasant relief to all that orange

Once I had put the brown shadow in, the window suddenly came to life. The carvings stood out, and the window under the screen took on some depth. So far so good

I then detailed the two windows on the ground floor, including the one with a rusty iron grille, which seemed to work quite well

I ploughed some cadmium red into the far left building which started to look authentic Venetian. I shall probably lose that when I mount the picture. How often does that happen

There is still plenty of detailing to do, which becomes tiring after a while which is why I have stopped to write this. I would like to finish and frame this for The Railings exhibition in Pirbright, as all my other work is at the Royal Surrey. May do possibly

Still no news from the Royal Surrey, but one of my paintings has been put on reserve on my Artfinder site, which indicates interest at least. I think one sale would be like a starting pistol for this year to finally get going.

I must not moan. I love painting and would continue to do it even if I never sold another picture, although what I would do with them I do not know!

Canals of Venice

Venice Drawing

Today my colleague in paint, Elaine and I set up our joint exhibition at the Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford. I have to say that it did look good. It will be on for four weeks, and now one has to forget about it, which is never easy, as it is so tempting to check one’s emails

Having said that my exhibition work is over for a while, I am reminded that on the 29th July, our local club, the Pirbright Art Club are holding their summer exhibition. We call it the “Railings” as we hang our paintings from the iron railings around the old village hall. It does look quite effective

However all my best stuff is at the hospital and will be until mid August, so a bit of a problem

There was a Venice picture which I wanted to do, and I have attached the photograph as well as my line drawing version of it. I am going to try and complete this by the 25th when we have our “auditions” for this exhibition, so at least it will look as though I am trying to support our local show.

The photograph, I found startling, with the brightness of the colours and the deep shadows, both complimentary and both fascinating to attempt. Some lovely deep oranges and some texture work with these bright colours, should be very satisfying to do. There are too some really good architectural shapes, such as the Gothic window which I hope to give more prominence. I have omitted the window next to it, shown in the photograph. The architectural iron work of he balconies is a study in itself

Anyway that is my next task, which promises to be fun

From Budapest to the Danube Delta

DSCF3796

The small green frog basking on a lily leaf somewhere in the wetlands of the Danube delta, posed quite happily as our small boat brushed by. All through this trip I have had an eye out for painting ideas, and I thought he would work well, so when I have recovered from the journey and settled back in, I might try painting him. There won’t be time for the exhibition starting on the 12th, but there is another local exhibition on the 29th which I might like to have something for

There were other things which were interesting, beautiful Hungarian horses which are half Arab, which we watched being put through their paces by the cowboys. This was near Mohacs out on the plains. The cattle were fantastic too, huge with long horns. One bare back rider controlled a team of nine horses standing on the rump of the last two, which was amazing, more like a circus act. Because of the distance from the rider to the front row of horses, they have to respond to the voice which means learning the language of the horse, a lifetimes work, I would imagine

Mohacs Team of 9 (3)

Amazing sight, and might make a dramatic painting. I also took some shots of the ubiquitous stork nesting on the tops of telegraph poles, which are always amusing. We don’t have storks wild in the UK, well certainly not nesting like that, so we find them interesting

Just going back to the delta for a moment, we went there to see pelicans, which we certainly did, but not near enough to photograph. Plenty in the air and also landing but none would pose. Cormorants, swan and egret too. We were taken to the feeding grounds of these birds, and were told about the ingenious cooperation between the cormorant and the pelican. The cormorant dives for fish as you know, which causes the fish to surface where they are scooped up by the pelican in their elastic shopping bag beaks

The architecture and landscape would provide some good subjects but to be thought about. Three capitals, Budapest, Belgrade and Bucharest plus various smaller older towns, as well as the famous Iron Gorge with its stupendous scenery, all offer possibilities

To be considered

Line Drawing Preliminary Study for Boats on Beach at Beer, Devon

Boats at Beer Drawing

Rather a faint study from the collage of photographs that I posted a few weeks ago, but sufficient, I think to form the basis for a painting. I have done this study before only differently, so this painting will be the usual journey of discovery that they all are, that fine line between success and failure

I mentioned before, I think, that this shot is from a visit some years ago now to the fishing village of Beer, on the south Devon coast. The fishing boats are dragged up on the beach, and make a colourful line-up, a mixture of bright reds and blues

This is the first time that I will have done this painting as a long horizontal shot. It should work, he says, hopefully. I will have to cut a different mount, though. The original one with the four slots just is not going to suit

So for now, it just remains to titivate these drawings and check that I have everything, including all those small props like chains, anchors etc. Then I can start mixing the underpainting

We will see how we get on

Venice Painting Completed

Venice Painting Completed

The finished painting with San Giorgio Maggiore in the background, which I enjoyed doing, although trying to hit the right colours was testing to say the least

I have already mentioned the mooring posts. In the photograph they looked red in the evening light. This turned into a glazing exercise, wet on dry, although nothing like as tricky as the hull of the gondola which I will come to in a minute

For the posts I started with a Burnt Sienna wash which is pretty safe. When the paint had dried, the pigment had disappeared. I applied another coat of the same colour, followed by a coat of Permanent Rose which should have given these posts a nice evening red glow, but still pasty. I had been waiting to use quinacridone red, of which I have a fairly limited experience, so perhaps risky. The colour worked well, I thought, giving me what I wanted. I used Indigo for the strips of bark hanging onto the wood. Indigo makes an alternative to black which I avoid if I can

Now the real challenge, to use that overworked word, was how to treat the hull of the gondola. I may have said before that gondolas are black by regulation. The finish is of a very high gloss, the sort one sometimes gets on pianos, in fact it used to be called piano finish. I think polyurethane was involved which may have been universally banned by now because of health risks.

Black gloss in certain lights obviously won’t look black, because of the other bright colours it picks up in this mirror like shine. If you remember the original photograph that I worked from, the vessel looked a sort of bright copper colour.

Again this was a long and drawn out glazing exercise. At least five coats as I remember and twenty four hours natural drying in between each coat. I used Quinacradone Gold, Burnt Sienna, Van Dyke Brown, Transparent Brown and Permanent Rose

I looked at it in the morning from a distance. I think it worked but I will have to put it away and get it out again another time, before I can make an objective view

As always comments are welcome

Venice Painting so far

Venice painting to date

 

Not the best of photographs I am afraid

The sky is much pinker than the picture shows but try as I might, I can’t stop the camera leeching out the background colour. Also too much camera distortion making the posts lean inwards which I will try to correct on the finished version

What I did to colour match the original photograph, in which the sky and most of the water is a deep salmon pink, was to brush all over first with a red-orange mix, which did dry quite pale. I then built up with dilute coats of alizarin crimson until I reached the depths of colour that I wanted.

When that was hard-dried, I started on the background buildings, the church of San Giorgio Maggiore, always a favourite. Being in deep shadow I gave all the buildings a wash of French Ultramarine, and then another one. When that was really dry, I painted the rooftops and brickwork in Burnt Sienna.

The mooring posts I started with Burnt Sienna, but I wanted them to be more red than that. I glazed them with Permanent Rose. They were still too brown, so went over them again with quinacrodone red ( it doesn’t matter which way I spell that word, it always seems to be wrong). This was getting nearer the shade

I now had the colour relationship between the foreground posts and the background church. I felt the church could go darker still, with another coat of Ultramarine, and this time bring the wash down a little way over the water, to cast a shadow. There is one small building in front of the church, which I think is the customs house, which in reality stands well out on a promontory coming towards us. I missed this out with the last coat so that it didn’t disappear altogether

That is as far as I have gone as yet. I still have to darken the posts and finish the gondola, probably with some indigo on the seating. How I tackle the hull, I still have to work out, so we shall see.