London Docklands Commission Base Coat

Docklands Commission Base Coat

Almost too faint to record on the camera unfortunately, but I haven’t written anything for a while, so I shall just have to record where I am with the Docklands commission, which has become extremely time consuming as really we are talking about five pictures where normally there would be one

But, the five vignettes I managed to fit on the page, which in itself was no mean feat. Also I have managed to fit them in the order the client wanted. Along the top runs the iconic Canary Wharf skyline. I have gone for sunset colours, so I have built up coats of dilute orange followed by very dilute Vermilion. This vignette is still at an early stage. I have been mixing vermilion with Cobalt Blue to get a soft grey for some of the darker areas. I am doing this bit by bit as I don’t want to cover the red glow which I have at the moment. Just not apparent with the jpeg alas

Next down, Westferry Circus which has only had a coat of Raw Sienna so far and then Churchill Place, which has had shadows put in and a unifying wash of Phthalo Blue to give that effect of glass reflecting sky.

Below that the ferry with Docklands skyline, which I haven’t touched yet. Finally the Ledger Building, which is the pub. So far I have given the facade a coat of blue/violet to put the building in shadow. The flowers and the umbrellas are caught by the sun, so they escaped the shadow treatment. Again this is only base coat stuff, with more wet on dry as the days go by

We have time. The presentation won’t be until early September, although I would like to see this one gone by July

I have grossly undercharged this one, but that is my fault. I could not tell how much work this commission would entail, so I must just get on and finish it, and not grumble.

I am starting to have grounds for optimism with this one now, and think it will turn out ok.  Certainly I have learned from it and how. Thinking of adding the Canary Wharf skyline to my list of potential paintings for forthcoming exhibitions

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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.

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The Latest Commission

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This was the latest commission, received earlier this month, required for a wedding anniversary at the end of May, so a deadline to be kept to, which concentrates the mind splendidly.

I am assuming this beautiful place was the wedding venue, but I am not really sure. It turns out to be a chateau in the south of France. Lovely to look at, but full of problems for the painter, not least the sea of greens which really take up the page. Just over the treetops, we can see pink rooftops of a building which I guessed might be a chateau, but only later was this confirmed

In the foreground, attractive conference chairs in white, laid out for some formal occasion. Amongst all the broad brush work, some very detailed work indeed. I do have now a very fine brush which points like a pen whilst retaining the capacity to hold quite a lot of water, so not running out continuously. I ended up masking these chairs, which was a tricky operation in itself, but I did use this brush for putting back the grass colour within the upright rails in the chairbacks

An express wish from the client was that the painting should be bright. The light is Mediterranean. No problem, we can do that.

The major change that I made was to cut down on the amount of green in the painting, and introduce some more red to give relief to the eye. I have exposed much more of the chateau than is shown in the photograph. This will be apparent from my photograph of the painting later, but suffice to say, I have taken over about 25% of the picture, with a red colour which I believe has helped the composition, and relieved the tedium of looking at virtually a monochrome image.

The client helped with this by providing an extra picture of the chateau showing the complete facade with its architectural details, and I was able to work from that. I believed this to be one of those occasions where the painting improved on the photograph. The client was delighted, which is always a relief.

As this commission finished I received another one, to paint different aspects of Canary Wharf for a leaving present, so I hope to do that justice. I don’t get that many so two in a month is heartening, especially as I had no sales at Leatherhead.

I attach the painting for interestWedding Venue Modified

I kept the chateau deliberately hazy to indicate heat and distance. As far as the greens are concerned I used four, sap green and raw sienna mix as a base for the distant trees, Antwerp blue and lemon mix for the bright greens, sap green and ultramarine blue for the darks, and green gold for the lawn

The details in the painting are more delicate than the jpeg represents but that is always the case

Art Exhibition at Leatherhead Theatre

Leatherhead Theatre Exhibition May 2018

A new venue for me in a new town, which is always exciting. Leatherhead is about twenty miles from the Woking/Guildford area where I usually exhibit, so this should be a good opportunity to address an audience which as yet is unfamiliar with my work

Leatherhead is a smaller town than Guildford, but prosperous nonetheless, a commuter town with a busy shopping centre. The theatre is in the middle of town, and open all day, so not just with performances but also with conferences, classes and clubs, so we are told quite a heavy footfall

I have entered six framed paintings and five folios. One thing about a new venue is that nobody has seen any of my work so I can give some previous paintings an airing. Galloping Horses is the only painting that hasn’t been shown at all. Certainly the organisers were very enthusiastic about my work, and expected great things, but then organisers always do. My own theory is to expect the unexpected, which seems to work every time. They actually contacted me, which is unusual and pleasing, having seen my website under Surrey Artists.  Maybe that was the unexpected bit!

The exhibition opened this Tuesday and runs until the 15th. I had an interim report on Thursday telling me which pictures were receiving most interest, namely the Flamingo painting which is one of the framed ones, as well as two of the folios, Sicilian fishing village and Cockerel with Hens. Exciting stuff. It could go either way

As I always say, one would be nice.

By the way, I have had to interrupt progress on the Bosham painting, as I have received a commission which is needed for a wedding anniversary towards the end of this month. I am on with this, but still some way to go, as some parts are tricky. I may well write about it later.

Itching to get back to the Bosham painting, though !!

Sketchwork on Bosham Harbour

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I have been away for the last five days or so, in Spain with perfect temperatures of around 20 with gentle sunshine plus sea air. I’m back now to something like 12 and wet so feeling cold. Yesterday I rescued my garden and allotment. Today I am catching up on other things like my blog

I started last time with an indistinct photograph of Bosham Harbour, which I have done so many times, but this time in evening colours.  Before I went away I prepared some sketches and finally decided on the one which I have illustrated.

I have kept the distinctive distant shore line without much detail. That broach spire identifies the village of Bosham unmistakably.  From my archives I have included a different boat, which will add something to the foreground.  There were beached boats in the photograph which in my opinion did little, although I did include a couple of these to close off the side of the painting to he right.

I think I will use a mixture of violet, yellow and brown for the painting. I am more interested in how the colours work, than in the actual image, so the result may look like an impression of Bosham rather than a record of the harbour itself.

Before leaving this subject, I will mention that I am setting up an exhibition in Leatherhead, in the theatre on Monday morning.  Leatherhead is a town about twenty miles distant, so new territory, which is always exciting

Coming back to the Bosham painting, I will finish with another image, which is the basic line drawing transferred to watercolour paper. We are now ready to paint.

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A different aspect of Bosham Harbour

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i think I may have mentioned ad nauseam that Bosham Harbour with its ancient church is a favourite subject for painting, and is widely known

If I am preparing for an exhibition, I usually like to have at least one view of this beautiful little place. The problem is that everyone wants the same shot, across the harbour with the church against the skyline, so painters, like me, are continually looking for a way to paint this view, and yet make it look different every time.

I came across the attached photograph a few months ago, which interested me. As you can see, it is a gentle evening shot, with some bright sky and some very deep silhouettes. The details are blurred, which is not something I usually do, but found myself intrigued nonetheless. The effect could be impressionistic, which again is not something I usually do. The other thing I liked, is that, when translating this into a painting, one could use a very limited pallette, which I find improves the effect very often. In this case, we are looking at yellow and violet basically, which generally work together very well.

I haven’t used these two colours for a while, so the idea is attractive

I am not sure about how I feel about the beached boats in the immediate foreground. They are certainly an aid to perspective, which I can appreciate, and yet in your face just a bit. I think I will draw some of these separately on tracing paper and chase them round the composition to see what I like best. I have been through my archives of boats too, and have sketched one or two of those, again to see what works.

Despite what I said about getting away from detail for a change, I don’t want meaningless shapes either, and unlike photographers, artists can choose what goes into a composition, which gives us an advantage, so I might be able to get away from that rather shapeless foreground.

I think there will be quite a lot of work with little bits of tracing paper, before we hit on the right composition, so we will see what happens. Yet another journey into the unknown.

Goathland ( or is it Hogsmeade ) Railway Station Finished Painting

Goathland or Hogsmeade Railway Station

The finished article

I had no idea how this might turn out. I was attracted by the colours at first. Whoever thought to paint the station and rolling stock in that bright red, and then place them all against all that greenery, certainly had an eye for colour

I am old enough to remember the old British rail rolling stock, which was long past its sell-by date, fifty years ago, perhaps without us knowing. In the 1970s I worked for a company manufacturing furniture, and remember sending consignments in the old British Rail B container down to Switzerland. They were cheap is about all you could say. The journey took several days and the containers let in water, because as I said, they were old. We changed to transport by road using a Swiss haulage company, and the service improved dramatically, but sad nonetheless.

The colours were familiar though. Perhaps more weather beaten which faded the colours, but nevertheless I remember the trucks either as a worn pink or perhaps a deeper browny red

In any event, I have left the colour of the goods trucks slightly on the bright side, in order to stand out against the trees. Who could remember what they looked like as new. We only ever saw them after wind, sun and rain had taken their toll, not to mention smuts from the steam engine, which would have been shunting them in those days

I ended up liking this painting. I can spot mistakes, of course, but enjoyed working on it. Whether the painting will prove saleable is yet to be seen. I have stopped trying to predict what will sell and what won’t, as I am wrong so often

I have the Leatherhead Theatre exhibition coming up, so may try to get it in there.

We shall see

Goathland Interim

Goathland Interim

I have made a start as you can see

There was rather a lot of woodland. Usually the background is pale, sky, perhaps a few distant trees, and that makes a clear backdrop for the foreground to stand out against

This time we have trees and lots of them, and so the foreground has to stand out against this darker background. For the moment, I have just started to detail some of the buildings, and for me there is insufficient definition. They need to come forward otherwise they will just go back into the trees

Looking back at the reference photograph, there is a tremendous amount of red in the picture. The ironwork is red. The trucks are red. Paintwork is red. The brickwork could do with a coat of something, as it appears anemic . I think a coat of Permanent Rose or Light Red would help, and that is probably what I will do

The buildings and rolling stock should when completed come towards the viewer and throw the trees back, which I think might prove a relief to the eyes

I haven’t had time to work on it today so will try tomorrow to get something moving

Until then

Goathland Drawing

Goathland Drawing

This is my rough sketch of Goathland Railway Station, used amongst other things, for the model for Hogsmeade  Station on the Hogwartes Express, says he, knowing virtually nothing about Harry Potter

I moved the composition out on both sides from the original photograph. I managed to find some more material on the Internet, not much, but the little I found was helpful. On one side there is a siding used for what looks like, Pullman coaches. I have the colour at least, which seems to be mostly cream with green

On the left hand side, I was able to complete what looked like a railway shed. It was more or less what I guessed it should be, but it was good to have it confirmed.

Now comes the tedious part, as you have heard me say before, of transferring the sketch onto watercolour paper, as a line drawing, hopefully improving the accuracy as I go. Some little while before I get round to that I expect

Some news about exhibitions. I finished the show at the Guildford Institute and sold one painting on the very last day. It was the one called “Bikes and Canals in Amsterdam” which I was pleased about, as this was rather a different subject for me. One painting is not remarkable, I know, but the Institute is not a busy place like a hospital, for instance, but I like showing there as it enjoys local prestige, and gets you talked about.

A couple of days ago, I was approached by the theatre in Leatherhead, which is a town about twenty miles from where I live. They are opening an art gallery for local artists, and wondered if I would support them, which I am doing. I am taking a small section of wall space as a trial, and will be showing there from 1st to 14th May

It should be an interesting experiment. I haven’t tried the Leatherhead area before. The theatre also draws from the town of Dorking, and the surrounding villages, so I remain cautiously optomistic, as always. The gallery organiser supports the exhibition with local publicity as well as social media. Some of this activity is directed towards private galleries in the area, and again not a segment of the market that I have approached before.

So will make an interesting punt. We shall see

Goathland Railway Station or Hogsmeade if you prefer

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I borrowed this photograph from Simon Jenkins’ wonderful book, Britain’s 100 Best Railway Stations. Shame about the centrefold but I’ve pressed it out as best I can. This is Goathland Railway Station. I’ve never been there but feel I have, as this station was used as a backdrop for that delightful TV series Heartbeat, and of course, it was Hogsmeade Station on Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express.

I have been to others like it, some in the north of England and others closer, some rescued by enthusiasts, with others like the Settle/Carlisle Railway, brought back into the national system by popular demand, having once been axed by Doctor Beeching in the 1960s.

This view is made to be painted, and I give credit to Simon Jenkins and trust he will forgive me, if I borrow it.

It will not be slavishly copied. I need to take the image out to the left and to the right, and I have found material on that wonderful Internet, which shows a siding to the right with coaches, and to the left enough of the storage shed for me to complete

Drawing will be challenging. How to tackle those railway lines, remains to be seen, and we can make a judgement afterwards, but for now, let’s get to it