Partway through the painting of Padstow Harbour

The Under Painting

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

Painting something again

Padstow Harbour

I sometimes have to stop and think what to paint next. Often I have a list in my head, but when i come to the end of that, then I have to think of what I need in my website

One of my lockdown tasks has been to sort through many years of reference photographs. So many years that many of them were turned into prints rather than being stored more conveniently on the PC. The collage above of Padstow Harbour is a typical example

I painted from this probably ten years ago. I have been to Padstow in Cornwall on several occasions, and I like the harbour there very much indeed. I have painted several different shots, and I am pleased to say that they proved popular. The painting from the view above, sold on its first showing and after that I moved on to other things.

Looking through these photographs reminded me of it, and I thought I would like to tackle this shot again, but of course differently. My style has changed between then and now, hopefully for the better. Not necessarily so, as sometimes I look back at old paintings, and wonder how I got a particular result, and could I do it again

On this occasion, I am going to do a similar composition, but work the changes hopefully with different colour combinations. Last time, as I remember I did local colour which was fine, but now I might try something a little more ambitious. I needn’t tell anyone if it fails

I shall start on some sketchwork soon and after that we’ll see what happens

The Ostrich Family finished painting

Family of Ostrich

Some years ago we were in South Africa on a game reserve, and met these birds walking unhurriedly along the track. They stayed on the track just in front of our vehicle for quite a long time and refused to budge. I think the female was holding us back so that we didn’t mow down her chicks!

We didn’t mind as this was a splendid photo opportunity, and we took full advantage.

I said that I would paint them one day and now finally I have. The subject seemed simple enough and yet I found this painting to be one of the trickiest i have done for a long time. I think the colours may have had something to do with it. There was such a lot of green, and not very exciting green either. There was no other colour to give relief

Ostrich are magnificent birds, and interesting to draw. When it comes to painting them, then it is a different matter, especially when painting the female. I consulted references about the right colour to use for the female’s plumage, and the consensus was taupe. Taupe you will know, is beige running into grey. Not exciting but not something I could change

Added to that the light was flat and no shadows to speak of. Still not to worry, the painting is complete, and I have done what I set out to do. But an object lesson learned, which is to avoid subjects with little colour interest as they will disappoint

The Ostrich Family

Ostrich Family

One lockdown task that I have been getting to grips with, has been sorting out and rationalising my burgeoning collection of reference pictures

About seven or eight years ago, we made a trip to South Africa which was amazing. About a week was spent on safari, followed by a long weekend in Cape Town

This shot, just one of many, shows an ostrich family just ahead of our truck, and being totally disinclined to move out of the way. I think the mother bird was deliberately preventing our vehicle from running over her young. Nobody was worried of course, as this was such a fantastic photo opportunity and went on for quite a long time

A long time ago, I thought I would paint this but never did. Now I have been reminded and have made a start with the drawing. Problems would be with colours, I think. Weather was not particularly good when we were there, with dull skies and proportionately subdued colour. I will have to try and inject a little sunshine somehow, although not sure how

I have done the initial sketch and will come back later

Initial Sketch

Baguettes

Baguettes

I quite like doing these narrative paintings from time to time. This one I have done in a vignette style, again something I do for a change. In some ways this style takes less time, as I don’t have to tape up, and without big expanse of sky or sea, there are no big washes to worry about.

This was not done from one of my reference photos, and my thanks and acknowledgements go to an unknown photographer whom I could not find. This painting is not a copy of but was inspired by a photograph.

This is pure nostalgia in one sense. I don’t know of a visitor to France who didn’t enjoy that early morning trip to the boulangerie for the fresh bread.

In England we don’t have that culture. Our bread is homogenised and comes plastic wrapped, although some of our supermarkets are now baking on site, and producing something worth eating. But we still don’t go for it early morning when it is fresh and still warm

This is Paris obviously. The location was not marked, but looks like Montmartre, with those steep steps. Again a place much visited and much painted.

I changed the background considerably. I have lengthened the perspective so that the Eiffel Tower looks much further away. The buildings are deliberately out of focus, so that we concentrate on the lady in the foreground. We look at her with great compassion as she struggles homeward up that steep slope, heavily laden. I see her almost pushing that basket with her knee, to take some of that strain off her arm.

This painting is smaller than my usual, this time about 30×25 centimetres. I found it a pleasant change to do. At the moment,thanks to lockdown I am sorting and consolidating my reference photographs, so who knows may find more of this type

Istanbul : Misty Painting of Sultan Ahmed Mosque

Misty Morning in Istanbul

This was by way of an exercise. I’ve used someone else’s photograph as a basis for this painting, so unlikely to use the finished result, unless I can get permission

I wanted to try and achieve this foggy sort of image. The mosque in the background is hardly visible. Until you get to the figure in the foreground, shapes are almost unrecognisable. The clever bit would be to get the feeling that the mist is moving towards you. Whether that has been achieved I will let others judge

The painting did not photograph well. There are some brush marks showing in the foreground which you don’t get with the original

Otherwise an interesting exercise

Wisteria at Wisley: the finished painting

Wisteria at Wisley

We haven’t been able to visit the RHS gardens at Wisley ever since lockdown began. It was a favourite place and we miss going there. Hopefully as things ease they may reopen, although how social distancing will be organised, remains to be seen

Doing this painting reminded me of happier times. We have stood here enough times in the loggia if that is the term, looking through the wisteria along the canal to the laboratory, which is an uninspiring name for the splendid mock-Tudor building in the background

Flowers and foliage are not my strong point. I had to look up how to paint wisteria. I used ultramarine violet, and then dark mauve for the deeper colours. I also dropped some quinacradone gold in here and there for the tips of the flowers. That has a name which botanists will know

The leaves were built up with a succession of colours. Sunlight streamed through in places and cadmium yellow suited that. I used Sap Green mixed with Lemon and finally Olive green for the leaves in shadow

Anyway I think it came close to the photograph, but as always I will leave others to judge

Just to finish off, I have been having a remarkable number of sales, all online obviously. I think this must be the lockdown factor

Ferry across the Bosphorus sold this week and was shipped today in fact, bringing my total to four since January. Chicken feed to many artists I know but significant for me.

Ferry Crossing the Bosphorus



Now gone and missed already

Wisteria at Wisley



Wisley Gardens, the headquarters of the Royal Horticultural Society is fairly near us, and we go there frequently. Since lockdown the place has been closed, like so many other gardens. We’ve missed it enormously especially at this time of year

This photograph appeared in Garden magazine this month, showing the view through the wisteria along the canal towards the laboratory which is the elegant building in the background. I have painted it many times

As I can’t go there I shall paint this view with everyone’s permission, as the next best thing. We look forward to going back when things return to normal.

I have in fact made a start, and I will let you know how I get on

Despite lockdown , I am still selling a few pictures. I sold the painting of the Scottish castle, Eilean Donan a few days, and the buyer collected from my door. We observed social distancing of course

Sketching Birds in Ball Point Pen

The Ostrich Family

We had a competition recently inter family based on the work of Alberto Rosso and his drawings using ballpoint pen. The theme was birds

I hadn’t drawn in ballpoint for some while and had forgotten what a satisfying medium it was for sketching. Likewise drawing birds wasn’t something I had attempted. I did several versions, and the first ones were measured and precise which didn’t fit the project at all.

In the end I treated the drawings as doodles, so only doing them by eye and doing without measurements. That seemed to work better. My favourite is the one that I am showing which dates back some years when we had a holiday in South Africa.

We were out in a game reserve, in a truck, and met a family of ostrich going the same way. They just kept walking in front of us and made no attempt to speed up or move out of the way. We took loads of pictures, and I thought one day I might paint them, which I never did do

So I used them as a model for my biro drawing instead and am fairly pleased with the way it turned out. Ballpoint works well with watercolour so I may well paint it another time

On the easel I have just started painting an old favourite Wisley Gardens, a scene through wisteria which looked inviting in the photograph. I will deal with that another time

Rooftops over Ragusa: the finished painting

Rooftops over Ragusa Finished

This has been an enjoyable journey to use that expression, which does seem appropriate, as I did feel I went back there. I took photographs with a view to paint, but never found the time. One thing about lockdown is that I don’t feel guilty about making more time to paint. There is always something to do in the house but generally house and garden are tidy and the allotment is up-to-date, which is unheard of

Also I am managing to paint in natural light which is a plus. So often painting time comes in the evening and artificial light is a handicap

Colours were enjoyable with the mix of phthalo blue and cobalt for sky and cathedral. Just a tad of grey in the blue for accuracy and to stand against the sky. For all the old houses, different shades of Burnt Sienna and orange, with some blue in the steps to balance the colour scheme

There is a competition coming up for 70+ year olds in lockdown so might put this one in. There will be thousands of entries from across the country, so no hope of winning, but as we say, it’s the taking part that counts