Southsea Pier Sunrise in Watercolour

Sunrise over South Parade Pier in Southsea

A favourite place from my childhood. We were taken there and allowed to play on the gaming machines, which were not very sophisticated in those days. I remember putting in one old penny which was the pre-decimal currency, so value today, one half of a new penny. The aim was to flick a ball bearing round at speed and see where it landed, hopefully in a slot which gave you a payback. As I say, extremely unsophisticated

This painting relates to the reference photograph which I posted last time, which I was kindly allowed to use by Vicky Stovell of Smiley Sunshine Photography.

I used few colours. Cadmium Orange, Ultramarine Violet, Dark Mauve and Cobalt Blue. I combined the blue and the violet for the sky as well as the wet sand at the bottom of the picture. The uprights for the pier were in deep, deep shadow so i used the dark mauve, instead of black which I avoid where possible.

In order to get the bright sun image, I held a tissue in place with one finger, and then applied the first wash. There are probably better ways of getting that result, but that was the best I could think pf at the time

This painting will be going in my September exhibition at Denbies Wine Estate, so hopefully will freshen up the collection

I have another Istanbul painting in preparation so will post that at a later date

Langstone Mill in Evening Glow

A favourite place and a favourite subject. My boyhood was spent in the area, and Langstone was a favourite haunt. There was and is, a lot for boys to do here, bathing and canoeing, digging for shellfish and running from aggressive swans when we interrupted them on the nest. It is an historic place. It was the ancient port serving nearby Havant, the main town about a mile inland. I say ancient. Coal was still coming in here from the north, in the early part of the twentieth century. Today it is just a delightful creek, used by sailors and photographers, and of course painters.

The tower is what is left of the c18 windmill. The sails were removed in the c19, and the building left to rot. The building to the left of the tower was the original grain store, and the one to the far left was the tide mill. In the 1930s the mill was rescued by the famous artist Dame Flora Twort and restored for residential use. The architect was Ernst Freud, well-known for his work in Germany and later in London.

Langstone Mill has a connection with Neville Shute, the novelist, who lived here during the last war, and did some of his writing here. Shute was an aeronautical engineer, and was a director of a company making aircraft in nearby Portsmouth

I have painted this subject many times. On this occasion I tried something slightly different, and used Quinacradone Gold which puts a glow in the sky, which you get with early evening. Then I added the long shadows which hopefully finish the effect

Mont St Michel, Normandy

The island fortress of Mont St Michel

Firstly my thanks to Oska Siobhan photographer in Mont St Michel, for the use of her photograph as reference

We first visited Mont St Michel when our children were small, so nearly fifty years ago, and went back again much later, both times on holiday in Brittany, such a beautiful region of France

Steeped in history, high tide gave protection from would be assailants, whilst at low tide access was allowed to pilgrims to the abbey. The island remained unconquered during the hundred years war despite two sieges by the English. In fact the island’s spirited resistance inspired the French and Joan of Arc.. Louis XI recognised the benefits of the location and turned it into a prison. The abbey was used regularly as a prison during the Ancien Regime

In England we have a look-alike off the coast of Cornwall. In 1067 the Mont gace full support to William the Conqueror’s claim to the English throne. William rewarded this with lands on the other side of the channel, including a small island off the coast of Cornwall, on which the Norman monks built their priory, called St Michael’s Mount of Penzance

Mont St Michel also features on the Bayeux Tapestry. Scenes 16 and 17 show William and Harold there . Harold is rescuing knights from quicksand. This would have been during the period from Harold’s shipwreck on the coast of France, when he was entertained by William

My painting, as usual is in watercolour. Quite a lot of drawing in this one as you might expect

A Favourite View of Venice

Gondolas with San Giorgio Maggiore in the background

Probably my favourite view of Venice which I have painted several times before, but not with this lovely misty light, which I shall assume to be morning but could be evening. This photograph I owe to Pixabay and am grateful

This is my finished watercolour painting, or my version of the photograph I should say

Painting of Venice in early light

This was a challenging photograph to work from. San Giorgio Maggiore in the background, shrouded in mist. I knew it well and had painted it a few times. This is a lovely building set on an island and reminds you where you are, almost into the mouth of the Grand canal. Gondolas line up like taxis in the foreground. Drawing them is always fun. They seem to have a twist along the length or maybe that is my imagination. An interesting point about gondolas is that they have to be black according to regulations and yet because they are so highly polished, they very often don’t look black, because of the highlights and the reflections

This fills a spot in my collection. I have two exhibitions planned for December, and I never feel complete without a painting of Venice. Unfortunately having been through my own collection of photographic references more than once, I am sometimes puzzled as to what to paint for a change. This view I have painted before but in bright sunshine, so a misty start to the day is a nice change. Initial response to the painting has been encouraging, so I think it could do well, but I have said that before

We shall see. At the moment I am in different stages of two works, not something I like doing but needs must

Painting again as means to recovery — finished painting of Bosham Church viewed from the sailing club

Bosham Church from the sailing club

It is now some time since I have posted anything, and it is good to be back. It is also extremely good to be painting again. My life for the past ten weeks, has centred round hospital visits and more recently consultations with the physiotherapist. Today I was discharged from hospital so trying to get back to normal after my accident

I started this painting about two weeks ago. It was to replace a gap in my range. I sold two Bosham paintings at my last exhibition in June, which was held in the gallery at Denbies Wine Estate near Dorking. I had a telephone call from a gentleman asking if by chance I had a painting available of Bosham which he wanted as a gift for a friend.. How fortunate. He was prepared to wait and is collecting the finished item tomorrow, so that is good

I have used sunset colours which always work with any subject involving water. The deep reflections are perfect for this size of painting. There are just four colours in the picture, red and cobalt blue, violet and transparent brown

There are more finished paintings to come. Roman Sunrise, which is a splendid early morning view of St Peter’s Basilica, and also the Bridges of Prague, which I am just finishing

Two exhibitions in December coming up so will need plenty. Fingers crossed that strict Covid restrictions aren’t reintroduced of course as they were last year at the last minute. Our infection rate is rising worryingly, with the government trying to avoid taking any action. It is as though they are taking some desperate gamble that herd immunity will kick in which will save them putting any curbs on the economy

Anyway sorry about my long absence. Hopefully I can get back into the swing again.

Lucca in Tuscany, looking at the Town Square

The town square in Lucca, Tuscany

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

Abinger Hammer: the finished painting

The village of Abinger Hammer with its striking clock

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.

We will see how we get on

Horses in the Mist — the finished painting

My version

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

Horses in the Mist

Horses with acknowledgements to Image by Artower from Pixabay

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.

Drawing with terracotta pencil and orange wash
Drawn with the golden brown pencil and washed in with orange

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

Camargue Horses: the Sketch

Horses in the Camargue

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