I never tire of looking back to our visit to the Camargue, where tributaries of the Rhone flow into the Mediterranean sea. This wetland area is famous for its wildlife, flamingos which breed here in possibly their only breeding ground in Europe, bulls which are bred for fighting, and, of course, the famous white horses which run wild throughout the area. They are magnificent to watch
I have painted them before. Always a delight. I hope you enjoy looking at this painting. As far as I remember I have only used two watercolours, Cobalt Blue and Vermillion which work well together as a sunset effect.
A favourite view across the Venice lagoon, with La Dogana just visible on the right-hand side , and Santa Maria delle Grazie in the distance. This was not my photograph, and I am grateful to Pixabay for the loan.
I have included the watery sun appearing through the mist, which probably will burn the mist off later. A useful tip that I read about recently was to take a bottle top, cover it with tissue and press it gently but firmly onto the wet paper. You will be left with a faint sun, which you can adjust to what you want
I used a mix of vermillion and cobalt blue to get this hazy effect, in fact no other colour. You can add more or less of one or the other to get whatever effect you want. The lonely gondola is out early by the looks of things
Just a short post this time, as other things await
I am indebted to Pixabay for the use of their photograph. I have stood on this spot a few times and looked down the canal, but this picture was taken with a distant golden evening light which is very attractive. I hope I have done justice to this view. Standing on this spot, reminds me of the many little shops, in one of which I bought a piece of Murano glass, which was over-priced , but difficult to go home without something
I love the feeling of depth. Close to us are the embarkment stations used by passengers boarding the many vaporettos which chug along the canal, going to many destinations. In the far distance you can just see the canal bending out of sight. In between are the old palaces now mostly hotels
The sky was always going to be the biggest challenge. I used some cobalt and phthalo blue mixed, layered in orange for lower sky, and back to blue for the lower picture. I had to repeat this twice to get any sort of brightness to the orange sky. Later when bone dry, I put in some red clouds wisping along the top . The orange worked well as a reflection in the water too. As always the camera has leeched out some of the colour. The painting is so much more vibrant. I wish I could stop this happening
Venice continues to be popular, and I never tire of painting her. Just by way of a change I am trying to put together a composition around a cat in Ephesus. We have been there a couple of times. Very atmospheric treading in the footsteps of St.Paul, also very hot and dusty, but amazing nonetheless. On my last visit and just in front of the Library of Celsius, a cat was sitting motionless on a pedestal. There are always plenty of feral cats living amongst ruins. This one somehow added to the spiritual quality of the scene, not Christian, but more like an object of worship in Egypt. Fanciful I know, but that is how the view struck me. I wonder if I can convey that in a painting
This is what I meant by an old favourite. The lagoon viewed looking out onto the magnificent church of San Giorgio Maggiore, which I have painted several times before in different lights. I don’t seem to have kept many, so must have been some time ago that I last painted this view, before I started keeping a file of all my pictures. Anyway, this one I was pleased with. The light seemed to work. A misty still morning before the sun broke through, there is very little in the way of colour as yet
I have used mostly just two colours, Cobalt Blue and Cadmium Orange. Here and there they have mixed and produced an interesting grey/green which I rather like and use from time to time. Burnt sienna for the brick buildings in the background, but not much of it
I put this one on social media to get some comments. Someone bought it which is always the ultimate accolade
I am doing a real exhibition this coming Saturday, and it would have been nice to have taken it, but you can only sell a painting once. I am happy with that
Probably my favourite view of Venice which I have painted several times before, but not with this lovely misty light, which I shall assume to be morning but could be evening. This photograph I owe to Pixabay and am grateful
This is my finished watercolour painting, or my version of the photograph I should say
This was a challenging photograph to work from. San Giorgio Maggiore in the background, shrouded in mist. I knew it well and had painted it a few times. This is a lovely building set on an island and reminds you where you are, almost into the mouth of the Grand canal. Gondolas line up like taxis in the foreground. Drawing them is always fun. They seem to have a twist along the length or maybe that is my imagination. An interesting point about gondolas is that they have to be black according to regulations and yet because they are so highly polished, they very often don’t look black, because of the highlights and the reflections
This fills a spot in my collection. I have two exhibitions planned for December, and I never feel complete without a painting of Venice. Unfortunately having been through my own collection of photographic references more than once, I am sometimes puzzled as to what to paint for a change. This view I have painted before but in bright sunshine, so a misty start to the day is a nice change. Initial response to the painting has been encouraging, so I think it could do well, but I have said that before
We shall see. At the moment I am in different stages of two works, not something I like doing but needs must
The original is actually brighter than this photograph. Annoyingly I couldn’t get the reproduction any lighter which is a pity
Tower Bridge is always a good subject. It stands across the river as an entrance to the Pool of London. It doesn’t seem so long ago that cargo ships docked here and loaded or discharged their cargo. The bridge became an icon of its time, when London was a hub of international trade. In my lifetime, with the advent of containerisation, traffic moved downriver to Tilbury, and the London docklands wound down as far as shipping was concerned. It became a financial centre instead, important obviously but perhaps not quite so stirring as shipping
I am grateful to Fietz Fotos for their permission to use their reference photograph. It really was a study in orange and blue. I have painted Tower bridge several times over the years, but not in these colours, so it was still challenging enough and seemed to take me quite a long time
There still is a real exhibition planned which I have entered. This will be at Denbies Winery near Dorking and starts on June 21st. If it isn’t cancelled at last minute, as it was at Christmas, this will be my first real show since lockdown 1. Online sales have been good and one must be grateful, but there is something of a buzz about a real exhibition.
I have completed this painting and very much enjoyed doing it. It seemed to come together without too many mishaps which is why I pushed on and completed it before publishing
We came here some years ago. It is a very tranquil spot. The painting only shows part of the ruined abbey church, which would be the chancel, I think, and the tower which was on the crossing. The rest of it, the long nave would be way to the right. Although ruined the abbey nonetheless is very impressive, and is indicative of its importance and wealth in its heyday
Strange to think that but for the greed of Henry VIII it might still be there today, functioning in some form or other. Henry VIII, always short of money, seized the monasteries in about 1536, and dissolved them. The properties were seized and sold off. This was a Cistercian monastery, and they had become wealthy through sheep rearing especially. Wool was the basis of national wealth at the time. Hence this monastery must have been a prize for the taking
Monks were dispersed. Not all were treated brutally although some were, especially if they protested about the Act of Supremacy which put the king at the head of the church. Some received pensions, some became parish priests and some became teachers in the new grammar schools
A lovely spot to stop and reflect on what might have been
As far as painting is concerned, the weir was tricky and you need to stand back for that to come together. The greens seemed to work . They are often my main worry, and can take some sorting out. Anyway as usual I will let others judge
I have been busy of late, preparing drawings for a book illustration amongst other things, so have neglected painting for my own pleasure. This will be my next subject, Fountains, a lovely spot and very paintable. I have wanted to paint it for years literally, and now finally got round to it. This is my own photograph, following our visit about seven years ago, so I am a bit slow off the mark with this one.
Fountains Abbey, near Ripon in Yorkshire was one of the most important Cistercian monasteries in England. The photograph shows the tower and part of the nave from the abbey church. Monks from Citeaux in france founded the first monastery which was near Farnham in Surrey, founded in the twelfth century. Gradually they spread up the country, Fountains and nearby Rievaulx becoming two of the most important. The monasteries were dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539, monks were dispelled, sometimes given alternative employment or sometimes pensioned off. The buildings and land were usually sold off to Henry’s cronies, sometimes referred to as the biggest privatisation in history. The king kept the money as you might expect.
I have just finished the pencil drawing. I like the building and I like the reflections in the water. I have drawn the dark trees out further and I may scale the colour down, as they are a bit overpowering. I need a few human figures to give some life and also some proportion
I like the colours generally, although may put some pink in the sky which will also appear in the water. That will also soften the stonework which is a tad grey at the moment. Could be an interesting painting if I get it right. As always we shall see
This is the completed painting of Padstow Harbour in Cornwall, a very well known and popular place. It is a fishing port and consequently well known for good sea food restaurants. The well known Rick Stein comes from Padstow and has his own restaurants here, not to mention a very good fish and chip shop, and I believe he also had his own cookery school where he trained people in the fine art of good cuisine. Some years though since I have been here, and my information may be a little old.
The reference shots for this painting go back a few years, and I may have mentioned already that I have painted this view before but some years ago. I sold it so can’t compare and in those days was a bit careless about photographing my work. As I remember though this painting is very different to that one
I used a different palette for one thing. Not long ago I bought a new paintbox called Graphitint by Derwent, and I rather like them. I am not here to advertise and I haven’t been asked to, but I used some of these colours on the buildings around the quayside. What these paints do, and there are a dozen of them, different shades, is to granulate, so in other words, the pigment doesn’t dissolve completely but hangs in the water. When the water dries the pigment stays on the paper, usually in the tooth of the surface, and provides a sort of gritty effect. That may not sound attractive the way I’ve described it, but it works very well for stonework on buildings. The colours are a little muted but I don’t mind that. Other people can judge for themselves.
Otherwise quite a time consuming painting, working on the boats, which is quite enjoyable for a while, and then I need to rest. The reflections took a long time building up the depth of colour, and eventually I needed some coloured chalk for the very deep shades
Anyway the painting is finished. It will be in time for my redesigned web site, which I am looking forward to seeing one day
Now perhaps a short break from painting whilst I consider my next subject
This is the stage that I have reached so far, namely the under painting on which hopefully to build
I have chosen a different colourway to anything I have used before, mainly as an experiment and perhaps hopefully to learn something. If it doesn’t work then I may have wasted a painting. I did this painting between 15 and 20 years ago, and just used the local colours. This time I wanted to inject some sunshine and maybe some mood into the painting. The photographs if you remember my last post, were taken in flat light, so no shadows and frankly rather dull
I used a base coat involving a mix of phthalo blue and viridian for a green/blue which I used for the sky and also for the sea in the foreground. I moved from sky colour to a peach for which I mixed orange and yellow and added rose. I quite liked that colour for a change. The sky moved to peach for buildings and boats and then back to sky colour for foreground sea. Remember I haven’t done this before, so could turn out badly
I have started to work on some of the buildings using blue with burnt sienna plus a dab of raw sienna to look like lichen on the roof. I have also drawn in some masts which I missed when I did the initial drawing
That is as far as I am so far. Other things demanding my attention as usual, but I quite like doing a little at a time. I may have said that I am completely overhauling my website which is time consuming but I think will be good when it is done. More of that another time