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

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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

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.

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.

Horsemanship Painting Finished

Horsemanship in Hungary

Well, this is the finished item

From the last painting, this was really just an exercise in detailing

There were many instances where the brush went too far, when putting in the shadows, so here I have repaired with white gouache. This was mostly around the legs of the second lead horse, so his forelegs do now, I think, look as they are catching the sunlight. Also I have redefined the ears and manes of some horses, which look a bit brighter now.

I kept looking and looking at what I thought was the finished item, thinking it was very black and white. Not that I have used any black whatsoever in this painting, just my usual mix of violet and transparent brown, but the darks did seem to veer towards black which bothered me. To get some colour back into the picture, I glazed the horses with dilute Alizarin Crimson, which has helped considerably, I think. It isn’t quite so obvious from the jpg, but better in the original, where some of the horses have taken on a strawberry hue, which is more convincing than before.

I have reinforced the pink muzzles, and given the rider a pink waistcoat in stead of a black one. He was wearing a white cockade in his hat, which I have changed to a crimson one.

The last horse painting Wild Horses in the Camargue did well. Let’s hope this one does too

I have just signed off my entry papers for next February’s exhibition in the Guildford Institute which is very much themed on paintings of waterways, so I shall be busy now preparing for that. Still, it is good to have that pressure

Horsemanship Painting Partway

Horsemanship painting partway

This is the story so far

Since the drawing I have lightly put in the shadows with Ultramarine violet, and allowed to rest for a while. The background trees and fence posts I have made deliberately hazy, hopefully to give the effect of the dust storm kicked up by the horses’ hooves. The horses were travelling at a decent canter, as I remember, and the day was hot and dry, so plenty of dust for us all to enjoy.

I have started to finish detail, starting with the front row of horses. I have used the same violet mixed with Transparent Brown by Sennelier, which I usually find to be quite a good warm weather shadow colour. In some cases, I needed more than one glaze, and then when that had dried out thoroughly, I started to wonder if I had gone too far. Just as an experiment, I lifted some colour out which enabled me to define muscles on the horses. It was not unlike sculpting in a way, almost carving the horses, and because it is a slow process it gives you time to get this fine detail, correct, hopefully

The characters of the horses seem different. Second from the left looks the most spirited. His head is up, and I see he is wearing the Martingale harness to stop him throwing his head back, which would tempt him to bolt. I think that is what it is called. A long time since I rode, but I remember that danger signal when the horse would throw its head back and then charge. Great fun if you have a long run for him to do it in. Scary otherwise.

The one on the left seems to be feeling the heat. They had worked hard, that is for sure

I would like to introduce a splash of hot colour somewhere, either Cadmium Red or Orange. Maybe something attached to the bridle like a ribbon or cockade. Not sure yet so will have to think. It needs something, I feel

 

Horsemanship in Hungary

Horsemanship Drawing

I may have said already that, the painting called Wild Horses in the Camargue, I sold recently from my exhibition at the Royal Surrey Hospital. As can sometimes happen, there were two people who wanted that picture, and so, of course, someone had to be disappointed.

I didn’t want to paint Wild Horses again. I always resist doing that as not only is it boring but also I do prefer every painting to be unique. As it happened, on my list of subjects is the one that I have just drawn up. You may remember, a few posts ago, that I wrote about the Danube. One place where we stopped was near the town of Mohacs ( spelling hopefully correct), where we were treated to a wonderful display of horsemanship by the cowboys out on the plains.

I did include the photograph on that particular post, which will show the detail more clearly, but in case not, I can tell you that the rider is standing astride the rumps of two horses at the rear of the team. He is controlling a team of eight horses, and mostly by the sound of the voice, we are told

Anyway, I have said to the gentleman who missed out on the Wild Horses painting, that I would give him first refusal on this painting which I shall just call Horsemanship. If he doesn’t like it, well no harm done, it was going to be painted anyway, and can go towards a subsequent exhibition. If he does take it, then it will be a good deal for us both.

On the subject of exhibitions, the summer exhibition organised by our art club, the Pirbright Art Club, which is held outdoors, had to be cancelled due to very wet weather. We are just setting up a Facebook shop to compensate our members who got exhibits ready and couldn’t show. I believe it is on the Pirbright Art Club  Facebook page now although the three paintings which I have submitted haven’t been loaded yet, and there should be many more submissions to come

I will publicise when it is complete

The Little Frog Painting Finished

Finished Frog

This is the finished painting of the little frog from the Danube Delta. I am generally pleased with the way he has turned out, and certainly something different from me

There was very little for me to add since the last post, just putting in the very deep shadow with Transparent Brown. Also one or two highlights on the water I have added with white gouache

I don’t know if I mentioned before, but two people wanted the painting of Wild Horses in the Camargue. Of course, sadly someone had to be disappointed. However, I am about to start another horse painting which I hope will be equally dramatic, and the gentleman concerned has been offered first refusal

The inspiration for this next painting comes from a photograph which I posted a few weeks back, showing extreme skill in handling a team of seven horses by one rider, standing on the backs of the rear two.  This was actually a photograph which I took myself, when we went to visit cattle country in Hungary, and unusually,  good enough to paint from.

However, many a slip betwixt cup and lip, so we shall have to see how the painting turns out, before we get too pleased with ourselves.

Little Frog Painting Part Finished

Little Frog Part Finished

Well, we are about half way with the study of the little frog, photographed on his leaf in the wetlands of the Danube Delta. We saw some really impressive examples of wildlife that day, but the frog and his colony were the only ones interested in keeping still for the camera!

I started with my foundation mix of raw sienna and Naples yellow, across the whole sheet of paper. I let that go hard overnight, and worked in a pale green around the frog, in a patchy manner to simulate hopefully the puddles on the leaf surface. The green was mixed from Antwerp blue and Cadmium Yellow.

This becomes a glazing exercise with each coat going rock hard overnight. I don’t use a hair dryer myself unless I’m in a hurry. I prefer the paint to dry naturally so that the paper goes back to its original shape

I used the same green over the frog, twice. After that cadmium yellow followed by burnt sienna, and by that time I am trying to get some texture and shadow into the frog’s surface, I was hoping to see some granulation going on, but very little happening as yet

I shall continue building up the shadow with some dark brown, and that will contribute to the final result

The exhibition at the Royal Surrey Hospital is finished, and the results are in. I have sold five paintings which is a result. The ones in question are Bosham harbour and Church, Wild Horses of the Camargue, the Venice painting of San Giorgio Maggiore with Gondola, Fishing Boats of Beer and RHS Wisley Gardens

I think without checking that these are in my gallery

Pleased with that after such a poor start to the year