I have just started looking at this picture with a view to producing a painting from it. We were here some years ago now. Lucca was one stop on a railway tour that we did of Tuscany. We were staying in Montecatini at the time which was lovely. All the towns we wanted to visit were on the same railway line which was very convenient
Florence, Pisa, Siena and Lucca were all very accessible. We combined a short visit to Lucca with a visit to Pisa. I would have liked more time in Lucca but as you can imagine Pisa with its cathedral and leaning tower was more demanding. This photograph of the old square reminded me that I wanted to paint it one day. Some years back I did paint another view of the square, and sold it last year to someone in Portugal, which sounds strange, but not really as so many buy my pictures as a souvenir of a happy visit.
I have started sketching in some of the larger features of the picture. The trees dominate. They are amazingly tall, dwarfing the buildings let alone the people. I am not sure what type of tree it is, maybe lime or plane. The bark colouring is distinctive, a sort of greenish gold which will be interesting to replicate. An empty restaurant doesn’t inspire, and cries out for a few diners and maybe a waiter.
It will be interesting to see what I can make of it
As I said in a previous post, this is the village of Abinger Hammer, what used to be one of the iron villages in the Surrey Hills area. The blacksmith on the striking clock strikes the bell with a hammer, but the name refers to the giant hammer which was powered by the nearby river Tillingbourne up to the c18, which pounded the hot iron into shape.
Today Abinger is a tranquil place on the road from Guildford to Dorking. The buildings are attractive, in what is named the Surrey vernacular, using terracotta tiles and the local sandstone. They are very paintable, hence my choice, especially as I wanted the painting for a local exhibition starting on Freedom Day! The last start date over Christmas was cancelled so we hold our breath for this one.
The pallette was a simple one which is nice. raw Sienna and Burnt Sienna do most things. Cobalt blue for the shadows. i did experiment with the trees though. I have used quinacritone gold with violet for shadows and green gold for the hedge in the background, just for a change really.
This is my finished version of the photograph for which I am grateful to Pixabay
I am not sure about the marbling, not that I have tried to emulate the original exactly. I have used more orange and more blue, which has made the painting brighter, rightly or wrongly. My eye at the moment, is going from one image to the other. I don’t think I have captured the same feeling of movement as the original . When I look at the original I can almost hear the hoofbeats. My horses seem to float on a cloud, which is weird or ethereal depending on your preference.
Still it has been an interesting exercise and one of the most taxing that I have tried for a long time. Certainly a change from architecture
I am grateful for the loan of this image provided by the royalty free website Pixabay. I thought that painting my own version in watercolour would provide me with quite a challenge. The horse that worried me most was the chestnut mare in the centre. How to get the colour that vibrant was a question I couldn’t answer. Obviously a glazing exercise, but where to start. I consulted the mighty Google and looked at various options. One was interesting, starting with an under painting of dilute sap green, but I drew back from that and went for something safer
I decided to do two trials, and start with drawings in coloured pencil. I have never done that before and it seemed so obvious, after it was pointed out. One I drew in terracotta and the other in golden brown. I washed in the coloured lines so that it started looking like a painting. I then gave both a coat of Cadmium Orange and I photographed them both for the record.
There isn’t much between them, although I quietly favour the golden brown
These can harden overnight, and I will start tomorrow on successive coats. Burnt Sienna with a dash of red. Shadows in burnt umber with a dash of indigo. That should give quite a sharp finish, I hope but we shall see. The whole thing is like nothing I have attempted before
If I haven’t mentioned before, my own website davidharmerwatercolour.co.uk was completely redesigned recently. It is now set out better, in subject headings, so that things are easier to find, and is working well
As I said in my last post, I am looking for another horse painting, ideally of horses on the move, to replace Horses in the Snow which sold last week
This one should work hopefully. You can’t tell from this sketch but horses are cantering through water, so a lot of splashing going on which will give the idea of movement hopefully to the picture. A good excuse to do a lot of flicking and splashing during the painting as well. One of those defining moments when you throw paint at the picture or spray with an old toothbrush and hope it lands in the right places
I have painted Camargue horses before. We were there a few years ago, and they are magnificent to watch. I don’t trouble much with background for these shots, just paint the horses and sky the same blue/pink/grey combination, and then build up the horses with dark shadow
It worked last time, which is no guarantee of future success of course
Horses in the Snow, you may remember was the subject of a recent post. It sold extremely quickly from my Artfinder site, which is most gratifying. In fact I don’t remember a painting selling so fast. It is on its way now to its new owner, who I hope will get years of pleasure from it
It leaves me with a happy problem, but a problem no less, of a gap in my collection that I am putting together for my first and only bricks and mortar exhibition this year, which will take place through the Christmas break. This will be at Denbies the winery near Dorking, which has an art gallery, which is let out to groups throughout the year. This will be the first time that I have shown there, and I am very much looking forward to it
Horses on the move are a popular subject, and are fun to do, so I shall be looking through my photo stock for inspiration. There are several to choose from as kind persons have been sending ideas through to me. Mostly excellent screen shots of wild horses galloping through water which do look dramatic, but for the moment I am going for an image I brought back from my visit to the Camargue three years ago, and which I attach
I like the way that the lead horse looks at the camera
This isn’t something that I usually try. The example above is one of many hundreds of images by celebrated watercolour artist Judi Whitton. She starts with a line drawing in ink, and then uses watercolour. It would never have occured to me to imitate this style, had I not read her article in one of the recent painting magazines in which she outlined her method. It seemed like an invitation
The point that she was illustrating was what to leave out, as much as what to put in. In other words ” less is more”
That would be a useful lesson for me, as I never know when to stop, which is a common fault, so it might be worth me trying this exercise to see what I can learn. More importantly what will I remember for the future
Likewise, and this is something I have always tried to do, is the power of suggestion, rather than painting in every detail. If that comes out of this exercise, even better
For now I have done a line drawing from one of my old photographs of Venice. Quite a lot of her work is architectural, and she has written a book about Venice. In case anyone finds architectural work daunting, her method can be used on a variety of subjects. Probably best to look at her website.
I have used an old photograph from one of my visits, which looks like a corner of the Doge’s palace, and have drastically reduced the detail
There was quite a lot of detailing in this one. Different things were asked to be included, which I have done, but because of the scale, they have ended up as rather tiny. I was worried about that. Things like different coloured pots and also some blooms slightly out of season. Let’s hope they don’t disappoint
The car port and furniture store relationship on the left hand side, took some working out so that each was distinguishable. I did wonder afterwards whether I should have recommended leaving the furniture store out completely. The car port is a nice building, almost barn-like with its hipped roof, and it would have stood alone quite easily. However I didn’t. I painted what was there, which is the honest thing to do.
I reduced the enormous expanse of gravel with shadows coming in from trees which were off stage. I think that improves. Not really a follower of feng shui, I have left, nevertheless, an uninterrupted view of the path leading to the front door.
Some of the colours I have changed as well as scaling down the sizes of some of the shrubs. Generally a mix of reds and greens , I think the colour scheme works well, although some might disagree.
I now have another commission, another house portrait, which I went to see a couple of days ago. This is a rather charming cottage out in the woods, built around 1830, so lots of character, which I am shortly to start.
Just when it looked straightforward, I was asked to include the dog. Oh well, another challenge
Still in early stages, the painting appears to be coming out of the mist
The drawing is done and some colour has been applied. Cobalt blue sky and raw sienna as a base for nearly everything else. Some very pale and distant trees, and guidelines for shadows I have put in along the side to the left.
As far as the house is concerned I have put in shadows in blue which has managed to build up the general form of the building. The house at the back I have formed in brown and blue.
The car port, I have done more work on, with the final roof colour and the skylights. The furniture store in front of the car port makes the grouping ambiguous. I wish now I had insisted on just the car port but I didn’t so I am stuck with it. This will require some thought
Before strengthening the brick colour, I have put in the wisteria and the virginia creeper, as I shall have to paint round them
Very easy to lose heart in this stage of the painting, but the painting must be finished so I carry on. In fact since writing this I have put a coat of Burnt Sienna on the brickwork and already the house is starting to move towards me
I have made a start. Bosham, always a favourite subject for exhibitions, and I don’t have one ready for my next exhibition which is in October, having sold Bosham Creek at the Guildford Institute.
The drawing is based on an old postcard, which gave me part of the composition, and helped with the relationship of the boat in the foreground, with the shoreline. The other boats I have added from my own library of sketches.
I have added some dark ink lines on the shadow sides of the two boats, and have masked out a tiny boat in the background.
I started to lay in a wash as a base colour. I used Cobalt Blue together with Vermillion. As they mixed on the paper, they have made grey as a basis for shadows to come. Still plenty of red in the sky and sea, although I can play with that when it has dried right out.
I have dabbed out a mark for the evening sun and its reflections across the water, which at the moment is not easy to see.
I am hoping this wash will be enough for background. I don’t want the sky competing with the foreground, but until the painting has dried right out, it will be impossible to say