Horses in the Snow : the drawing

I am creating an assemblage or collection of images hopefully to create one long painting which will have movement, and with a bit of luck, some drama and excitement. That is the plan and we shall see how it unfolds

For the moment, I have just completed the tonal drawing to give myself a guide for the finished painting. The challenge too will be giving the impression of snow on white paper

I did do an impression of a cat in deep snow which seemed to work ok. This horse painting will be a lot more involved, but should be entertaining.

I’ll come back when I’ve done more

Finished Painting entitled Christmas Shopping:Guildford High Street

Signed revised Christmas Shopping Guildford High Street

Christmas Shopping: Guildford High Street

The historic High Street of Guildford is always a joy to paint. This street is actually Saxon in origin, although nothing that early remains above ground. The plan of the street though goes back that far, and the dimensions of the actual plots are still the same

There are still buildings from the c13. The iconic clock which I have mentioned before is dated 1683, when the facade of the old Guildhall was restored. A relative newcomer, the classical arch in the centre was built in 1819, and was the last corn market in the town. Known as the Tunsgate Arch this was built on the site of the old Tun Inn, one of the many coaching inns in the town. The Tun Inn went bankrupt and was demolished in 1818. The columns used to be equidistant until the middle two were moved to accommodate motor traffic in the 1930’s. In the 1990’s the arch was closed to motor traffic, and paved over. To celebrate the twinning of Guildford with Freiburg in Germany at the time, the coats of arms of both towns were let into the floor in mosaic.

This painting was commissioned by a charity called Cards for Good Causes, and I am pleased to say has been approved, and will go forward for reproduction as a Christmas card.  They will be on sale in pop-up shops in every town in the UK from 18th October onwards.  Details on their web site. The proceeds are distributed amongst 25 well-known charities and should you wish to support, thank you.

An extremely detailed painting which has taken me some time to complete, but enjoyable nonetheless. The framed original will also go on sale in support of the above


Winter Street Scene Current Progress

Winter Street Scene Interim

Well, I have made a start with the painting, after staring at the drawing for ages.

The blue sky is in. As a bright winter sky, I am happy with that. There will be shadows, quite long ones for that time of the year. The shady side of the street has had one wash of blue but is still quite pallid. Those shadows will have to be deepened considerably, if we are to get the effect of bright sunshine over the rooftops. I think I will put a little red in with the blue next time, which I prefer as a shadow colour, when I glaze over the existing

The large white space in the sky is, of course, the large clock. This I will have to redraw and paint as accurately as I can. I have done the clock a few times now. I tend to do it freehand, and I have always been lucky. Watch it go wrong this time, as I have a lot riding on it.

This clock, if I haven’t mentioned it before, has become the iconic image of Guildford. It dates from 1683, and was the gift from a London clockmaker called Thomas Aylward, who wanted to set up in Guildford, so presented this as a gift to the town to accompany his application. Today we would call it a bribe. It hangs from the old Guildhall, just off the picture to the left, a building which served amongst other things as the town law courts until well into the twentieth century. The clock works perfectly today, and is lovingly maintained.

Back to the picture, quite a lot of laborious masking out, to preserve the snow on window sills etc.That took a lot of time with little to show, but happily we are on with the actual painting now, so starting to see something taking shape.

Quite a lot of detail in this picture, and I am taking my time, just doing a little, letting it dry, so that I get the true colour, and then going on from there. It is hard to say when I will finish, but I have promised it for the end of the month, which once looked a long way off, but now doesn’t. Oh well, crack on.

Winter Street Scene Initial Sketch

High Street Winter

This is by no means the finished drawing, but is plenty for me to transfer onto watercolour paper. I like to leave some freehand drawing still to do on the final sketch before painting. It seems to preserve the spontaneity somehow.

I have dressed the figures suitably for the winter, thanks to online catalogues. There are Christmas references and of course there will be snow which won’t show properly until the colour goes in

A lot more detail to go in, as I say. Some buildings are still to be completed, and there will be more figures further down the High Street. Not too many so that the composition looks cluttered, but hopefully enough to make the street look busy

Not only do I have the tedious job of moving the sketch onto watercolour paper, but I must soon start thinking about colours.

The sky will be a wintry cloudy blue. The time will be early afternoon, so still some watery winter sunshine with long shadows. The painting will not be grey. Colours are visible. Shadows should be blue especially on the snow. I need some oranges and reds. Brickwork and roof tiles will help. Some of the snow will be sliding off the rooftops, as a very gradual thaw has set in

Clothing? Some olive greens perhaps and some browns. One or two red anoraks dotted up the High Street. Also one or two red Christmas hats and some red spots on Christmas trees and in shop windows

Let us hope that all goes to plan

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

Snow Painting

Pyrford Parish Church

Using the charming little church of St.Nicholas at Pyrford, one of the Woking villages. To give an idea of the sort of effect I want to achieve, the following painting of Wanborough Barn near Farnham, was done from a photograph without snow, just adding snow from imagination. We don’t get enough snow, I am afraid, to get good snow scene shots to work from, so we will just have to adapt what we haveWanborough Barn near Farnham

Wanborough Barn near Farnham, with added snow

So that is the task to be tackled next. I need a snow scene for my next exhibition, as usually they sell quite well.

Just a word about St.Nicholas Church. It is an unspoiled but humble village church of the 12th century, retaining many of its original Norman features. Unexceptional apart from having a porch on both sides, which is unusual. It is built from local materials, naturally, using pudding stone and clunch, which is the hard form of the local chalk, used quite a lot for building materials in the area. In some parts of the church, not on the shot I have shown, the walls have been stuccoed over, which was done to give the appearance of stone

That should keep me busy for a little while. I will publish the working sketch just out of interest, just to see which way we go with this

Different people have asked to see photographs of my workspace. I have been taking some pictures and will run a post on that. Not very impressive as we live in a 19th century cottage, and space is at a premium, but it is always surprising how well you can operate from a little corner. Good lighting is essential, and the rather expensive lighting I use, I actually prefer to daylight

I will go into detail on that at a later date