Fountain of Love about halfway

The Story so far

Not a very good photograph of where I am at the moment. The camera as usual has diluted the colours. I think next time I will use the camera on my phone, which I have found reproduces colour much more faithfully

However for now we have a record. The mask has been removed from the trees and from the figures. I have started to work some dark colour around the sharp edges of the statuary, in order to give them some definition.  Details are tricky with a brush on this size of picture. I bought recently a fine detail brush which I can thoroughly recommend. It is one of a range designed by Matthew Palmer and available from SAA. It comes to a fine point, as fine as a pen nib, but is backed by a large bole, which holds a quantity of water. Unlike other fine detail brushes which run out of water, this one will run on and on, giving very fine detail lines so ideal for painting statues. 

Nevertheless fingers, nipples and feathers are still difficult and need care.

The pinky orange colour of the marble shell made me think, and in the end, I have gone for very dilute Burnt Sienna, and have just trialed this around the top of the large shell, picking out the smaller shell and what looks like two large flowers

Over the years it looks like some sort of mineral, possibly iron, has been deposited by the water onto the flutes of the shell, as it runs down and off into the water. It looks unsightly but what to do. I can’t leave it out but at the same time it does look ugly. I suppose some sort of compromise and reduce the amount and depth of this almost black residue would be the only solution.

Something to think about between now and next time

Out of the blue, a sale from my Artfinder site. That makes two this year. Things are looking up

Advertisements

The Fountain of Love Commission continued

original photograph of fountain at Cliveden House

I am starting with a photograph which has been published before, as events forced me to abandon the blog on this particular commission, other paintings being needed more urgently. I thought therefore that repetition of the original reference made sense, to remind us all where this story starts.

This is the very ornate fountain in the grounds of Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire. The style is Baroque so the statues are extremely Mannered in their style. As an architect once said to me, “If statues on a building wave to you, then it’s Baroque”. Very detailed therefore and consequently tricky to paint

The drawing is done, and I have started to paint, just to get some form of definition into my head. I see that I haven’t filed my photograph of Work in Progress  yet, so I will do that and then come back later

Well, this where I have got to, and it is a bit of a mess at the moment. The drawing was done a few weeks back, and as I said earlier, I have started to paint. I have masked out three trees in the background so that the trunks could be white as silver birch or pale green, whichever I think works best

I have also masked out the edges of some statues so that I get a really crisp edge and don’t lose any detail, having fought to keep it so far. No doubt this painting will be difficult. May even be my nemesis! Again I ask myself why I accept some of these commissions, except perhaps for the sheer challenge. Also the client is a regular who keeps coming back, so one wants to help

Since taking this photograph, I have sprayed masking fluid in certain areas to serve as spray from the fountain’s various jets. I kicked myself for not remembering right at the beginning, before I put colour into background foliage. Well, too late for that now. I will have to fall back on white gouache instead.

For now, that is all I can say. I shall remove the masking on the tree trunks and on the statues, so that I can define those edges. We will see how we get on

St.Katherine Docks Commission : The Finished Painting

The finished boat portrait

This took me about three weeks, working on it every now and then. I have come to prefer working that way, doing a little and then letting it dry right out, looking at it in different lights and revising my plan as I go along. All this wet weather has meant that even during the day, the natural light has been poor. Flat light is fine but all these dark skies have not been helpful.

I don’t think that I have included the original photograph, so I will do that at the very end. Apologies for that. I have kept to the photograph as much as possible, certainly for the boat which is what it is really all about.

The main difference is that I have removed completely the row of houses at the back, which cluttered the scene and made the composition very gloomy. Now we can see the evening light catching the stern ends of the boats and reflecting on the water. This was useful, too, introducing a little orange into what has become a very blue painting.

Also the masts and sails now stand out against the sky whereas in the photograph they are lost amongst the buildings.

Never before attempted a boat portrait, so I am pleased with the way it turned out, whether I should be or not. The client likewise pleased which is the main thing. I will end with the original photograph, and any different ideas on how to tackle this one would be gratefully received.

The boat subject in St.Katherine’s Dock

This is the image that I should have started with, so hopefully still makes sense

St Katherine’s Dock Commission

This is the drawing so far of the boat I was commissioned to paint. Rather faint I am afraid, not only because it’s in pencil but also because she has had a wash of phthalo blue and cobalt mix. Some orange and vermillion went in to the tops of the boats to give that evening sun look, but that will need strengthening

I have already sketched this scene just to realise the composition and to get that agreed. This is the real thing. Just a tad apprehensive, as although I have painted boats enough times, this would be the first boat portrait that I have tackled.

So much of the boat is white, and not even many shadows to relieve the situation. The vessel is beautiful, streamlined and highly polished, in fact all the things that don’t work so well in watercolour. A rough-textured old steamer, dirty and rusty, with plenty of smoke really lets the watercolourist’s imagination run riot. 

But we don’t have that. We have a sleek yacht instead. In the background of the reference photograph which I haven’t published here, are a row of houses, which were not only superfluous, but actually crowded the composition, and didn’t look good against the boats. I have left them out altogether, and I have not regretted doing so. The depth of the painting has increased whilst still preserving the look of a marina

So for the moment I shall just carry on building up the colours on the items that matter. The yacht centre stage of course is the star attraction and needs to come forward

We shall see how this goes

Langstone Mill Part Finished

Langstone Mill Part Finished

When this is finished I hope the misty look will still be apparent. I would like the painting to have an early morning look, the problem being, the more detail that one adds, the sharper the image becomes. All I can do is finish the painting and see which way it goes.

As you can see, colour has been added since the last post. I have used two pigments initially, Vermillion and cobalt blue, and also a mix of the two to produce a grey blue for the shadows. I have also brought in good old Burnt Sienna for the brickwork.

To the right, out of shot are three small sailing ships waiting to be finished. I have deliberately not put in an horizon line, to accentuate the mistiness of the scene. That is the plan anyway.

Details still need to be added to the buildings like verandahs etc, and soft interrupted reflections in the water. Masking fluid wants to come off, revealing the marker posts which are red and white like barber’s poles, as well as the flag post which will be white with a red flag. The boats might get a red pennant each. Not forgetting the seagulls which have to be added, as the only sign of life in this remote spot at a very quiet time of day.

If that works I will be quietly amazed!

A pleasant surprise a couple of days ago! I made my first international sale from my Artfinder site, Bosphorus Waterfront, which has been bought by a client in the US of A. It has only taken me two years to achieve this! The painting can be found on my website davidharmerwatercolour.co.uk should you wish to look

Now I am on tenterhooks about it arriving safely, and am tracking periodically. The package is currently at New York City Gateway, and needs to be transshipped mid west. They estimate delivering on Monday so fingers crossed for a rapturous welcome. The client has 14 days to return the painting if not delighted, which must be really demoralising for the artist, but we will see

New Haw Lock on the Wey Navigation Finished Painting

New Haw Lock Finished Painting

This painting refers back to one of my rare outdoor painting trips with the Pirbright Art Club, when we went out to New Haw Lock on the Wey Navigation. An ancient waterway, the Navigation connects Godalming with the Thames, and is part river and part canal system, which is why it is called a navigation and not a canal.

The lock-keeper’s cottage is easily the worst house that I’ve ever drawn in my life, and I should be ashamed. Well I am. I have managed to crop out most of it and just left enough to give some colour and relief against the trees. The proportions are wrong. Perfectly correct when I sketched this scene on the day, but somehow when I enlarged and transferred the sketch both proportions and perspective went out of the window. I don’t know where my head was that day.

As I was about to leave, these two girls arrived to open the lock gates. Here they are opening the sluice gates to fill the lock with water before opening the gates. I photographed them quickly thinking they might be useful to put in the picture, as sometimes these scenes can be improved with the addition of one or two figures.

In actual fact, they became the picture, as I pushed the house more and more out of sight. Part of me still considers focusing on the two girls completely, without including any house at all, but can’t decide on that. The two figures are sharper on the painting than they are in the photograph

I’m busy getting paintings together for another exhibition in the Leatherhead Theatre in October, so would like to include this one, if I can

Looking forward now to working on something new, as I have been working on New Haw Lock for some time now and could do with a change. As for what I shall do next, I think I will do another long panoramic picture, probably of Langstone Harbour, which I have done before but not as a panoramic. The last one that I did, of Bosham, I sold recently from the web site, so could do with something else.

Plein Air Painting at New Haw Lock

DSCF4301

Something I rarely find time for is painting outdoors, but recently did, with our local art group at New Haw Lock, which is one of the many locks along the Wey Navigation in Surrey. The Navigation dates from the c17, and made the river Wey navigable by cutting canals across the meanders and shallows. Thus this mix of river and canal made the Wey navigable for barge traffic from Guildford to the Thames. Amazingly this traffic by horse drawn barge went on until 1959. By then the navigation had been cut through to Godalming in the south, and had been especially useful in carrying gunpowder from nearby Chilworth Mill through to the Thames and on into the Port of London

During the c18 the Wey Navigation linked with the River Arun, and on down to the south coast, but that leg was short lived and proved uneconomic to run. That section fell into disuse, although some sections have been revived by conservationists

In the picture, one of the many lock keeper’s cottages, very charming and very paintable still. New Haw is somewhat underrated and is easily missed when driving by.

We found shade to sit, as the day was hot and became hotter towards midday. The morning was enough for me, so for about 2-3 hours during which time, I worked out my composition, and just sketched putting in the shadows which of course changed quickly. Photography helps the sketch book and I recorded several stages. It is my intention to finish the painting in my “studio”, but for the moment need to finish my Alhambra painting

I shall look forward to painting the New Haw lock. This is a typical Surrey scene and a typical Surrey cottage. I will attach my drawing. I regretted afterwards only taking an A3 pad which didn’t give me enough space but at home i can use a half sheet which will enable me hopefully to include the lock in its entirety

DSCF4307

Now all I have to do is to decide whether or not to include the foreground tree which obscures much of the cottage but nevertheless provides some interesting lights and darks

The Latest Commission

IMG_1723 (3)

This was the latest commission, received earlier this month, required for a wedding anniversary at the end of May, so a deadline to be kept to, which concentrates the mind splendidly.

I am assuming this beautiful place was the wedding venue, but I am not really sure. It turns out to be a chateau in the south of France. Lovely to look at, but full of problems for the painter, not least the sea of greens which really take up the page. Just over the treetops, we can see pink rooftops of a building which I guessed might be a chateau, but only later was this confirmed

In the foreground, attractive conference chairs in white, laid out for some formal occasion. Amongst all the broad brush work, some very detailed work indeed. I do have now a very fine brush which points like a pen whilst retaining the capacity to hold quite a lot of water, so not running out continuously. I ended up masking these chairs, which was a tricky operation in itself, but I did use this brush for putting back the grass colour within the upright rails in the chairbacks

An express wish from the client was that the painting should be bright. The light is Mediterranean. No problem, we can do that.

The major change that I made was to cut down on the amount of green in the painting, and introduce some more red to give relief to the eye. I have exposed much more of the chateau than is shown in the photograph. This will be apparent from my photograph of the painting later, but suffice to say, I have taken over about 25% of the picture, with a red colour which I believe has helped the composition, and relieved the tedium of looking at virtually a monochrome image.

The client helped with this by providing an extra picture of the chateau showing the complete facade with its architectural details, and I was able to work from that. I believed this to be one of those occasions where the painting improved on the photograph. The client was delighted, which is always a relief.

As this commission finished I received another one, to paint different aspects of Canary Wharf for a leaving present, so I hope to do that justice. I don’t get that many so two in a month is heartening, especially as I had no sales at Leatherhead.

I attach the painting for interestWedding Venue Modified

I kept the chateau deliberately hazy to indicate heat and distance. As far as the greens are concerned I used four, sap green and raw sienna mix as a base for the distant trees, Antwerp blue and lemon mix for the bright greens, sap green and ultramarine blue for the darks, and green gold for the lawn

The details in the painting are more delicate than the jpeg represents but that is always the case

Galloping Horses, the finished painting

Galloping Horses

The finished painting.

It took great restraint not to add some more colour to the horse on the left. I still think I made the right decision. It looks as though it is appearing out of the mist and the spray kicked up by the animal in front, which is the effect that I wanted.

As far as what I did since the last post, well, apart from stopping myself touching the horse on the left, not that much really. I have removed the spattered masking fluid to give, hopefully , that effect of spray from the hooves. I added a little dark spatter as well, but really didn’t need much

I added more detailing to the lead horse, so he is now well-defined and, hopefully, coming out of the picture, and added some more colour to the water and reflections at the bottom of the page

And that is really it. If I keep looking at it, I shall be tempted to fiddle, and that as we all know is fatal

Galloping Horses Partway

Galloping Horses Partway

I have moved on a bit from last time

So far I am using two colours only, Cobalt Blue and Vermillion Hue which I spoke about before, which does make a very pleasant grey with a sort of glow about it. I don’t think that I have worked with two colours before, so this will be interesting

I have spattered heavily with masking fluid around the hooves of the lead horse. This is showing as blue as I am using the Frisk product, so this will be white when I remove and hopefully the removal won’t give me a problem. I will probably spatter with some dark paint as well.

I have started to detail the lead horse, if only to judge the tones between him and the others further back. The pink background seems to work well. I will just go on defining the shadows on the horses and see how we end up