New Haw Lock Painting Cropped and Framed

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Improved I think with cropping, and of course anything looks better framed

It would have been better if I had held the camera straight though

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and unfortunately a reflection of myself in the glass

Moving on now to something else

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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

Basingstoke Canal Bridge

Basingstoke Canal Bridge

Continuing my theme of Waterways in Watercolour which is my next solo exhibition in February, and for which I am worryingly behind schedule, I am going to look again at the Basingstoke Canal which runs near where I live

This is a typical Sunday morning walk to exercise the dog and buy a newspaper in the village shop. The tow path is often quite busy with walkers and annoyingly sometimes, bicycles who use their weight to make people jump out of the way. Most are courteous but just a few are inconsiderate

The bridge in the picture is one of the original ones from the c18, brick built with bricks which would have been made in St.Johns nearby, most likely. It is a typical canal bridge, with shaped  walls that curve out on to the tow path. This enabled the bargee to bring the horse over from one side to the other without snagging the rope

I have painted this stretch of the canal many times, and it remains a favourite at exhibitions. My personal favourite which is in the gallery, is of one of the lock gates and which is into the light, contre-jour I think it is called. That sold at one of my exhibitions to a couple who were going back to New Zealand, and I helped them with the packing. I sometimes think of these paintings and where they are, rather like worrying about the children. How stupid can you get!

There is a flight of seven locks along this stretch of the canal, all fairly close to one another. An enormous amount of work for the barge people, getting out and opening the gates, and then closing gates behind the barge when in the lock. Fun to watch though

So far, I have just started to make some sketches, and there are some details I want to change, so nothing to show at the moment

For the future, I came across a lovely photograph which I took along the Amazon, a couple of years ago, of local boys with their pet alligators, small ones obviously, which they had on leads like dogs. This would make a lovely painting if I could bring it off, but might upset some people, so would have to give that one some thought

 

Bikes and Canals: the Finished Painting

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The finished painting of bicycles, canals and houseboats in one frame

Since the last post, there is not a lot to add. The bicycles have been finished from the sharpest detail retreating backwards. I find it easier to adapt the focus doing it that way, so that the perspective works out correctly. This was a real jumble of mechanical detail to sort out, but amusing nonetheless

This will go towards my exhibition in the spring, in the Guildford Institute. The theme is Waterways in Watercolour, which on the face of it is straightforward enough, but trying to think of a subject that I haven’t done before, does make me scratch my head

I need twelve pictures within the theme. I think I have five so far. Ah well, press on

Bikes and Canals : Work in Progress

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Some work done over the last few days

The buildings on the far bank have received some colour, some pink and some violet and some a mix of the two, to establish as near as I need the local colour of the brickwork. So far I have added little detail to the windows and doors, as I want them to fade against a sharp foreground of bicycles. I have done a little work on the reflections of the buildings on the water but not much, and will go back to that

The houseboats have been rendered in sharper focus, without necessarily detailing them too much. The bright yellow I think has worked on the distant boats, giving them an illuminated effect from the light source on the horizon. The hulls have been darkened with indigo, as they are in deep shadow, and I have let this colour bleed down vertically to provide the reflections in the water

I have extended the canal to the left, which I quite like as it gives the composition some extra depth. The bikes will be in the sharp foreground, but if they weren’t exactly centre stage, I wouldn’t mind

I was looking forward to tackling a bicycle, just to get a better idea of the relationship between foreground and background. I have painted the first one. The colour of mud guards etc was yellow, and I have kept to that, and in fact have used Indian Yellow, which I think works well against the violet/pinks. Just my opinion

What to use for tyres, chain guard etc which are really black in the photograph, made me ponder, as I veer away from black generally if I can. I mixed some ultramarine blue with transparent brown and made a very dark grey. I went back in with the indigo, which worked, I think as dark highlights on tyres etc, and produced a nice blue-black on the chain guard and seat. Some more detailing still to be done on pedals and rear-lights but I have enough to work with at the moment

I feel there should be long shadows, and don’t know what to do about them. Too many lines will be confusing, but once laid cannot be removed. Such is watercolour. I may leave them out altogether and claim artistic immunity. We’ll see

 

Bikes and Canals: Base Coat

Bikes and Canals Base Coat

This is the first coat on the bikes drawing, which looks like grey in the photograph, but which isn’t really. The definition between all the colours just isn’t great enough to show on this photograph

One of the watercolour painters I admire is David Curtis, and I looked at one of his exercises and thought I might try the same method here. I didn’t see the point of sticking to local colours on this occasion. The photograph was flat, and if not careful, the painting could be the same

What he did in a crowded harbour scene was to wet the paper thoroughly, so that the colours moved and merged, but most importantly not mix into one muddy finish. Mine haven’t by the way, even though the photograph looks grey.

Following as closely as I could to his example, I selected four strong colours, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, Violet and Cadmium Yellow. I then laid in, without much brushing, the four colours where I thought they would be most appropriate. I wanted the yellow in that misty background section and falling vertically. The pinks and violets falling on the buildings and the blue somewhere in between. Some control and some letting the colours find their own path.

I mix my colours on a large white dinner plate. I plant the pigment on the rim and as I add some water, the dilute pigment runs down into the centre of the plate. Sometimes that can be a nuisance but on this occasion, it was helpful as I also let some of the crimson mix with some of the violet which produced another shade for the buildings and also for the reflections

I have by now started to sharpen up some of the buildings and the houseboats. The whole thing is still looking a complete mess but hopefully will turn out well in the end. This one is a complete unknown. I can’t remember tackling such an awkward composition. You can’t get at the canal through the tangle of bikes, which with watercolour is very tricky. I thought about masking out but there is such a lot, so when the background is finished I shall lift paint off the bike frames and pray whilst I am doing it.

Could be a disaster but pleasing if it works

Bikes and Canals : Preliminary Sketch

Bikes and Canals Sketch Drawings

From the photograph on the last post, trying to make sense of the detail, some of which can be dispensed with, otherwise the composition will become a hopeless jumble

The bicycles, obviously need attention. I have left off the three at the back, as quite honestly, it is difficult to make out their shapes in the photograph, so a drawing would be difficult. I started with the bike in the foreground and have attempted some detail. I will probably go into more detail when I have transferred the image onto watercolour paper. The nice thing about bicycles in Amsterdam, is that they are simple, as bikes used to be. Handlebar with no gears that I can see, a bell which is welcome, a sit-up-and-beg frame and a parcel rack. Purely functional and fit for purpose. I can imagine a brisk trade in second-hand bikes, as I am told, several thousand have to be fished out of the canals every year

I will put in progressively less detail as I work through the pile.

Houseboats and reflections will help. I have extended the picture slightly to the right and have included an extra small boat. This takes the bicycles out of centre stage

The buildings at the rear of the picture, I think I will fade out slightly. Towards the left I have left a space for misty light which will work down the page. I will just have to make this up as I go along, and hope for the best. One should plan with watercolour, but sometimes you have to let instinct take control, and cross your fingers

The tedious part next, transferring the drawing and finishing it off onto watercolour paper. It has to be done

 

By way of a postscript, I don’t think that I have ever commented on the number of visits/views that I get each month. I don’t get an enormous traffic but certainly enough, and spread across all the continents, which is nice. This month I have had an amazing number of hits from Norway, which is nice. A staggering quantity, more than the UK and United States added together, which is just unprecedented. Thank you, Norway. I hope I continue to hold your interest

Bikes and Canals in Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a lovely city. I have been there many times, and have often thought I should try to paint it, with its canals and barges and its tall houses. Unfortunately I don’t have any photographic references to speak of, so that has held me back, until now

As it happened, my son and daughter-in-law were there recently, only for a short while but managed to take a few pictures for me. I asked them to include, if they could, bikes, canals, tall buildings and houseboats. Well, they got all those in this one shot

Now it is down to me to make a painting out of it. Hmm, I do like a challenge.

Something has to be done with the composition. I don’t know what yet though. That barrier rail on the right-hand side will go, I’m sure. Thousands of bikes, literally, go into the canals every year, so a few more will make little difference

I have started to draw the bikes, and it is not easy to sort out, which handlebar belongs to which bicycle. Maybe there is a case for cutting down on some of the detail in that group of bikes, so that the image is less muddled. I will let that evolve as I go on, I think.

I will have to alter the light to make the picture more interesting, otherwise the scene is very grey and could appear tedious as a painting. Add some sunlight in the background perhaps and deepen shadows in the foreground, which should add to the depth of the picture, otherwise could be very flat indeed.

This one has possible disaster written all over it, so if successful, I will have cause to celebrate

We shall see