History of Langstone Harbour and Warblington,Hampshire Coast

Watchman's Hut Warblington.JPG

Just as a change from painting, whilst I work on my Alhambra picture, before I have anything else to say about it, I am at the same time, researching the history of Havant in Hampshire based on my postcard collection, for a talk I am due to give to my local history group in Guildford in November

Havant is an unprepossessing town. I say that as someone who grew up there and therefore has an affection for the place. Nevertheless there is plenty of interesting history around and about. I keep within the confines of my collection, and on the eastern periphery lies Warblington, a Saxon foundation, a remote place by the side of a marshy creek, eerily quiet when I was a boy and still the same today. A week or so back I went to the old church to take some pictures to back up my postcards, and wandered around the churchyard. We were within half a mile of the Havant by-pass with its buzz of traffic and yet within the churchyard you could hear a pin drop. In my mind, I went back to my childhood when I first discovered this place as a schoolboy

The church is c13 and something of an enigma. Why build it there in the middle of nowhere? It still stands in the middle of nowhere. We are told there was a Saxon settlement, and the word Warblington stems from the name of the chieftain, a woman apparently, and there are Saxon elements in the foundations of the church . The church served nearby Emsworth, which still doesn’t explain why it was built at Warblington. On the site of a holy place perhaps? We don’t know

More interesting than the church despite its age, are the two huts, in diametrically opposed corners of the churchyard. If I say they are c19, I am sure you will guess that they had something to do with bodysnatching.  They are nightwatchman’s huts used to watch out for bodysnatchers who had posed  a huge problem until the Anatomy Act of 1832, which required anatomy teachers to be licensed, which effectively put an end to this lucrative trade. Also the medical fraternity were allowed the bodies of executed criminals or even donations from poor families.

In the churchyard of this creekside church are gravestones of sailors drowned at sea, and I quote the one I have always found fascinating.

Sailor's Gravestone

This the gravestone of William Palmer, and perhaps we should start with the inscription

This is in the memory of William Palmer that lost his life and his vessel going into Dublin the 24th February 1750 aged 38 years

The carved relief is intriguing and the work of a very skilled mason. Even the rigging stands out and would need very careful carving. Huge waves are rolling and the ship obviously capsized. The object behind the capsized vessel, I cannot make sense of

So we have a local mariner, a master mariner with his own boat, most likely involved in coastal trade as so many around here and Langstone were, and with a small crew, perhaps ambitiously attempting the crossing of the Irish Sea, not to mention the treacherous rocks around Lands End, and coming to a sad end. Or perhaps this was his regular run, and he was unlucky due to treacherous weather conditions. Dublin was very English in those days, and would be looking to regular supplies of day-to-day items, so one can easily imagine mariners plying a regular and profitable trade.

There are several Palmers buried in the churchyard. William’s wife is buried in the same grave but I can’t make out the dates. I imagine them being a prosperous family, judging from the quality of William’s gravestone

I remember seeing this stone when I was about twelve. It fired my imagination then and still does. It doesn’t look any different

I had thought to talk about Langstone close by, but another time. I have painted Langstone often but never Warblington which perhaps I should add to my list

Bosham Panorama for the Long Frame

Bosham Panorama Starting to emerge

Emerging from the sea mist almost

This is the start of the panoramic painting for the long frame which I mentioned recently, which I am hopeful for, but we shall see

For sky and sea I used a mix of phthalo blue and cobalt. For the sunset sky and reflection in the water, I have used a mix of Cadmium Orange and Permanent Rose. I was not pleased with the initial result, as the sky came up very orange indeed. I applied coat after coat of Permanent Rose, wet on dry, which when dry, appeared to have made very little impact. Eventually the sunset turned pinky red, and I quite liked the effect of the pink over the blue. Where the blue had gone on sparsely, the pink soaked in, and started to look like pink clouds on the blue sky. I am not sure whether this shows in the photograph.

In order to get the effect of the low sun on the rooftops, I will need to glaze the buildings with something like Light Red and if that goes too brown, then a thin wash of Cadmium Red. Sparingly, of course, as that is powerful stuff.

There is masking fluid to come off, where white buildings have caught the strong light. I should have mirrored that in the sea, but forgot, but I think I can rescue that with White Gouache.

Dark shadows to go in with dark Brown which will accentuate the light, I hope. Also some small boats for which I will use the same blue mix, and white masts, should add to the effect

I am hoping so, as exhibition time draws near

Bosham Harbour and Church: the finished painting

bosham-harbour-finished-painting

The finished painting finally!

There wasn’t too much to do since the last post. The boats had to be detailed and their reflections put in.

The boat in the foreground had a dark blue spinnaker tightly wrapped, which is probably the wrong word. I am not a sailor, and although I enjoy painting them, I am not up in boating terminology. The next nearest boat, had a spinnaker in orange and red which was highly convenient for the colour composition. I used a red buoy, and the reefed sail was also red. Again apologies to sailors if I have that term wrong. The furthest boat almost did itself really

So there it is. After the commissioned painting of Bosham worked out so well, I really wanted one myself for the March exhibition. This one, I think, will frame up well. Incidentally this is one of those occasions when the jpeg does not do justice to the original, which is softer somehow.

I have been looking at my list for the exhibition, for which I want fourteen framed pictures in all. I need to repaint the Notre Dame with Pigeons picture in a different mood, probably in bright sunshine and also missing out that dreadful marquee, which will make it look more attractive to people

One of my existing local pictures needs to be reframed, and there is also a painting I want to do of Sicily which I hope will turn out well. With what I have already, I could put fourteen pictures into the field, without doing more

Not that I will stop, of course, because I never do, and anyway there are other exhibitions coming up throughout the year, so still much to do. Inevitably if I have something better, I will change the entries for the March exhibition too

Hopefully in the coming weeks I will be talking about more work as I complete it

Bosham Harbour: the painting started

bosham-harbour-interim

Some while ago now I finished the drawing of Bosham Harbour and Church, and I posted that. I left it, as I completely messed up the initial wash. It wasn’t something I could correct, so I abandoned the whole thing. Very,very rarely do I do that, but sometimes it is the only way.

I find in situations like that, that walking way is the best thing to do.  Walk round the block, metaphorically speaking and then come back, otherwise you just get more and more frustrated, and make more and more mistakes

My way of walking round the block, was to do the Conkers painting. Completely different and completely unimportant, I was able to unwind and get myself back into finding the colour recipe for conkers which was in my head somewhere. After all that, my little bit of therapy produced a quite usable painting, and I framed it not so long ago, and was pleased with the result. This will go towards my next exhibition which will be in the Guildford Institute in March, not that far away now, so I need to work.

Back to Bosham Harbour, after redrawing the village with sailing boats, I put in a different wash, and played safe. I have no time to experiment. Phthalo blue and Cobalt produce a nice sky/sea colour and across the horizon a band of sunset produced with permanent Rose and Cadmium Orange. I started the blue wash downwards whilst at the same time starting the sunset colour at horizon level and worked upwards so the two met, and blended comfortably. Tricky using two brushes and two palettes at the same time, but it seemed to work

As you can see, I have just been detailing the church and other buildings in various reds and browns. I needed to get those roof tops really bright, and after several different glazes used cadmium red to give them some zing, so that they looked as though bright red evening sun was bouncing off them.

Still a lot of work to do, on reflections and those boats, but that is to come

Bosham Harbour in West Sussex

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Bosham Harbour and Church

I was commissioned to paint this view of Bosham Harbour. This is a favourite spot for sailors and visitors generally, as well as being beloved by photographers and artists alike.I was given the Contented Donkey commission at the same time, so have been working on them both from time to time. Bosham has been finished first, so will write about that now.

Bosham harbour is used by people who sail now, but historically this was a port for cross-channel traffic. It was used by the Saxons. The church is Saxon, and has a connection with King Cnut. His daughter is buried in the church. If you have heard the apocryphal story of Cnut trying to hold back the waves, because his courtiers had told him that he was that powerful, that was supposed to have happened at Bosham.

Cnut was a Dane, a Viking who was King of England, Denmark and Norway from 1018 to 1035. An important man and a great king, who returned England to prosperity following the Viking raids, his reign is largely obscured by the events of 1066

The power struggle for the throne just before 1066, involved Bosham. Harold Godwinson (and I expect I have spelled that wrongly,) sailed from Bosham to discuss the succession with Duke William of Normandy, and as we know was shipwrecked on the French coast. He was delivered to William as a prisoner, albeit treated as a guest, and during his stay was tricked into swearing on holy relics, that he would support William’s claim to the throne of England.

This gave William’s claim legality. He invaded England and landed at Pevensey, and met Harold in battle on Senlac Hill. The rest as they say, is history

Why was it called the Battle of Hastings when it was nowhere near there?  I’ve never been given a satisfactory answer to that question

The donkey painting will be next on the easel

 

Shere Village and Church: the Finished Painting

Shere Village and Church

Well, the painting is finished, and turned out better than I thought. I dulled down the roof of the lychgate as one critic advised. It had come far too forward, so I scraped it back, and added grey violet which has pushed the image back into the middle distance.

I lifted the paint off the foreground figures and let that dry. I painted shadows in first with dark grey violet, and let that dry hard. I finished them with their local colour, and they turned out well enough. It is possible to correct mistakes in watercolour sometimes

I added shadows cast by the figures, and deepened shadows under eaves and around windows. As soon as you do that,  it is like the sun coming out. Pure illusion but it always works

I might still tackle this subject again but from a different angle. As someone pointed out, it would have been nice to show more of the old church, and I accept that argument. I do have references taken closer to the church, and may well do that later, but not just yet. I need a change from this subject

Perhaps something from France would be nice to do, and perhaps experiment with some different skies, just to make life interesting

Shere Village and Church Painting which is not going too well

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Usually I like to say that the painting is proceeding nicely. In this case it just isn’t. It is one of those paintings that is popular at exhibitions, or should be. A local scene which people recognise and identify with. The sort of scene I have painted so many times, and yet seem to have made mistake after mistake. Oh well, suitably chastened, perhaps I will be more careful as I continue

Just above the church spire, and out of the camera frame, the sky went awry, and left a large blue patch right in the centre, just where I didn’t want it. This type of cloudy blue sky has to be done wet-in-wet, as we know, and apart from lots of frenetic board tilting, there is only so much control you can exert over the finished item.

The roof over the lychgate came up much too bright, so I have scrubbed that back, and will add less colour next time

Likewise the figures in the foreground were disappointing, and these I have scrubbed back with a lifting out brush. When they are really bone dry, I will attempt them again. I don’t know why but I seemed to lose all sense of colour control. I applied paint too thickly and the shadow areas which I had already put in, just did not show through

The brick colour of the cottage on the left-hand side which usually works well, is almost acidic with the green foliage, or am I being paranoid. Perhaps I have been looking at it for too long

On both sides I have painted more of each building. The camera frame would only take the image shown, which looking at, I prefer. There is certainly a case for cropping top and bottom, and maybe quite a bit from each side, and making a smaller picture of it

I will see what I can salvage. I have some ideas now. Being humbled occasionally, never hurt anyone

Have you ever had a bad picture day? Always pleased to hear about it if you have

Preparing a Painting of Shere Village in the Surrey Hills

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This is a view of Shere Village with its medieval church

Shere stands amongst the Surrey Hills and on the River Tillingbourne. Hard to imagine that in the c13-c15 it was industrial, producing woollen cloth. Today it is idyllic, like a postcard, attracting visitors from far and wide

I have been given an exhibition slot at the Royal Surrey Hospital, for July 2017, which does sound a long way off, but now starts the long slow build-up of exhibits. I need at least twelve that I haven’t shown before, so although I have some, I still want some more in reserve

I haven’t painted Shere for many years and then not from this angle. I think I can make something from this photograph, but for starters all these cars must go. I do sometimes put cars in, but in this case they are just hiding anything attractive. I shall probably broaden the composition by taking in more of the building on the left. I do also want some figures in the foreground looking towards the church, which will be a focal point.

The figures will be from my sketch book. I have drawn them free-hand from the screen, and will transpose them onto the drawing of the village street later. I will leave some pictures of the drawing and will post again when I have done some painting

Sketches of Figures

This is the page from my sketchbook. Figures kindly modelled by members of my family, although they didn’t know it, as we walked up to the old church.  What I do now, is to trace my sketch, and then slide the tracing around the drawing of the street, until the perspective looks right

Figures transposed to Shere Village scene

and so this is the sketch drawing which in turn will be transposed onto watercolour paper, after which it will be enhanced with more freehand drawing. When I have done that I will post the result

Watts Chapel and Gallery, Compton

Watts Chapel,Compton

Watts Cemetery Chapel, Compton, Surrey designed by Mary Watts

The winter street scene of Guildford is going to take me some time. Not only do I have to use my imagination, which is not my strong point, I also have to do a fair bit of research and also calculation, which I have to take my time over.

This does give me an opportunity to post something local which we visited not that long ago, which is Watts Cemetery Chapel or sometimes known as the Watts Mortuary Chapel.This is in the village of Compton, near Guildford in Surrey. I painted the above after our visit. Financed by the famous Victorian painter, George Frederick Watts, through his paintings,he donated it to the village of Compton.The Watts Gallery is also nearby. Recently restored after years of dilapidation, it houses a wonderful collection of his paintings and sculpture. The chapel was designed by his wife Mary Watts who also oversaw the building

In 1895 Mary started giving evening classes to the villagers at their home Limnerslease, teaching them how to model the local clay, and producing decorative tiles in terra cotta. They modelled the symbolic and beautiful patterns that she had designed, which would be used in the interior decoration of the chapel. The chapel she designed is in the Arts and crafts Style, the nearest we get in England to Art Nouveau, although I maintain many of the interior details are really Art Nouveau

In England, we never really had an architect who epitomised Art Nouveau, as they did in Scotland with Rennie Mackintosh. I sometimes think Mary Watts was our Art Nouveau heroine.

Close by, her husband’s gallery. A very famous Victorian painter, G.F.Watts, known for allegorical and symbolic works. His paintings hang all over the world, yet many are here at Compton, and this gallery is so worth a visit.

If I were to be asked to pick a favourite painting, it would be that very famous one “Hope”. There are many to choose from, but this female allegorical figure, clutching a wooden lyre with only one string left, is very poignant.

There were two versions painted and when we were last there, the version from the Tate was on loan to Compton.

This painting has been an influence on many great names. On Picasso during his Blue Period for his hunched figure The Old Guitarist, is one example. Martin Luther King referenced it in his collection of sermons. Nelson Mandela allegedly had a copy on the wall of his cell in prison on Robben Island.

Later in the 1980s the painting was the subject of a lecture by one Dr.Frederick Sampson in Richmond, Virginia who described it as a study of contradictions. One Jeremiah Wright apparently attended the lecture and in his sermon in 1990 on Hope, coined the phrase “audacity of Hope”. Having attended the sermon, Barack Obama adopted the phrase later as the title for his 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote address, and more well-known to most of us, as the title of his second book.

I think the quote runs something like : to have one string left and to have the audacity to hope that you can still make music

How some things echo down the ages!800px-Assistants_and_George_Frederic_Watts_-_Hope_-_Google_Art_Project

Hope

Critics of the day called it Despair but obviously missed the point

Snow Painting Completed

St.Nicholas Church, Pyrford, Surrey

St.Nicholas Church, Pyrford, in Surrey

This is the finished painting of the church to start with, and I will put up one of the stage paintings next, which deals with the masking out and the sky. The sky is probably the trickiest part of the operation as this is done wet-on-wet, and needs some handling, and I will talk about that with the next image

For the trees and bushes I used a fan brush loaded with two  colours at once, ultramarine blue and burnt sienna. These mixed on the paper giving a nice brown/grey or didn’t mix and gave the two colours in the tree which is fine too. Just needed to add some branches with a detail brush

Masking and sky

Masking and sky

I was asked where I would put the masking fluid in this picture. Well, along the snow line on the church roof, as when I come to put the sky in next, there will be quite a lot of water sloshing about, and it will be difficult to keep the blue colour off the virgin snow. Having said that, I have drawn the snow line down the roof line, as though it is thawing slowly, and that is just me, as I think it looks more interesting like that.

Also on the roofs of the house in the background, plus window ledges, grave stones and buttresses. Anywhere you think snow will cling

The sky is a subject in itself. I wanted to have a sky with movement in, and to look cold even though the sun was shining. That was the intention. I have a method which I have evolved and which I prefer, although obviously there are different ways of tackling this

Firstly I wet the area thoroughly with a large brush with clean water, so the paint can move around quickly. Next I brush on cobalt blue mid strength, and then pat out some cloud shapes with paper towel. Whilst the paper is still glistening, and that is very important otherwise the paint will not move, pump in ultramarine blue pigment, where you think you will want to see blue sky. I suggest not too much

I should have said at the beginning, make sure that your board is loose from the easel, as you are now going to pick it up and you won’t have a lot of time. Hold the board vertically and watch the ultramarine blue bleed downwards, and then turn the board on 90 degrees and watch the pigment bleed again this time across the sky, if that makes sense. You will have to decide when you think you have the right effect, and of course the colour will dry lighter than it is now

Put the board back on the easel. Phew!

Let this dry rock hard. I leave it overnight usually. What you should end up with is a swirling sky because with all this water swirling around that is the effect you should get. The cobalt blue will become dark cloud, and where you have blotted out will be the white tops of the clouds. The ultramarine will be the sky showing through

Obviously, when you are doing this, water will run down onto your snow. Just be ready with paper towel to mop that quickly and you should be ok

Apart from the sky, these are simple little paintings to do, yet effective in their simplicity. Hope you liked this