Thursday, 25 August 2011

Front cover!

I'm not really into self promotion but I couldn't hold back on mentioning that I've been pictured on the front page of The Artist magazine (September edition)! Roy Connelly has written a 5 page article on the Plein Air Brotherhood, of which I'm a member. It's a really interesting read (well written too) and I've got a few shots and quotes in the article.

The article also mentions our first 'inaugural' exhibition which opens next week in Harpenden at the A&K Wilson Gallery. All members of the 'Brotherhood' will have work on show and it's looking set up to be a cracker!! The private view is September 1st from 6-8pm (all are welcome) and runs until September 30th.

Monday, 22 August 2011

New studies from Bath

Last weekend saw the opening of the exhibition with the Royal Institute of Oil Painters in Bath at Gallery Le Fort. I've got several works on show and managed to sell these two on the night.

'Low Tide, Wells-next-the-sea' - oil on board (6x8)

'Sunshine at the Radcliffe Camera', Oxford - 10x16 - oil on board

Funnily enough, neither are of Bath but I'm hoping the Bath scenes will attract some red dots as the exhibition progresses :o) It was lovely to see everyone at the preview night and I was lucky enough to have a nice chat with the gentleman who kindly bought my painting of Wells. It's great when you can meet the buyer as you get a real sense of the connection they have with the painting :o) My friends and painting pals Tim King and Valerie Pirlot joined me at the show and we headed out for some easel action the following day.

The main session was done at the allotments on Sion Hill. This is a great little spot, well away from the crowds and on a slope that looks over towards distant hills. Tim and I had been hunting around fruitlessly for a while and weren't overly inspired as the light was really flat. We took a turn off Lansdown Crescent and stumbled across Sion Hill. I seemed to remember Peter Brown had done something down there so I thought it would be worth checking out. When we arrived we were greeted by a feast of green and other colours from the allotment. Perfect! I chose a tall slim format and it was quite a decent size, 10x16in I think. The sun kept coming in and out but I stuck to my guns and made it predominantly 'in' but with the distant hills lit up a bit. Valerie joined us not long after we'd started and we all happily painted away, enjoying the tranquility....even the distant chimes of church bells could be heard. Lovely. Valerie and Tim both did the scene full justice with their paintings. This is my effort from the session.

Tim and I headed for the Crescent as last effort to find a subject to paint. We were both a bit tired but had a go, vowing to approach it as a quick sketch more than anything. For some reason the wind really picked up and we ended up having to hold our easels with our free hand!

Believe me, you almost need sunglasses to look at the grass. It really was a bright, acid yellow/green. This is quite toned down, believe it or not! I wish I'd shifted things a little so the tree was a bit further left but hey ho, in the heat of the moment with the wind buffeting the easel you have to make fast decisions. I was more interested in getting the tones and colours judged accurately. I made a conscious effort to simplify the buildings and not have it descend into an commentary on Georgian windows! The sky is a little bleached in the photo...there's more tone to be seen in the painting.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Whaddon sunset studies

I've been really busy lately getting work prepped for upcoming exhibtions so I've not been able to post much onto the blog. I have been trying to get out when I can with the easel and started a little series of paintings from the same location in a nearby village called Whaddon. The view looks west and across a valley and I'm particularly interested in trying to capture the different stages as the sun sets.

I knew it would be tricky because the light moves so fast at sunset. It's a reasonably simple subject in terms of the drawing so that makes things easier to handle. For now I've been starting from scratch on each study but I might be tempted to map out the basic compostion on future efforts to save time when in front of the subject. Apart from the time issues, one of the hardest things is trying to find an equivalent in paint for the brilliant light and colours. I end up having to work part observation and part memory as the subject changes so rapidly. What I try to avoid is 'chasing' the light but it's inevitable to a certain extent. In some ways it's not such a bad thing since I want the painting to serve as an account of the whole experience of being there, not merely a snapshot. It's a fine balance. After about 30-40mins the subject will have changed so much it's probably best to start another one but I'm sometimes guilty of carrying on a bit longer than I really should!

Anyway, the three the order they were painted (each done on separate evenings after work):

First effort above, earlier in the evening, not so exciting but it got me familar with the scene and the light was a bit more steady compared to later on.

This one above was done earlier in the evening with a higher sun. I don't know what possessed me but I went with an 8x20in board....rather ambitious for such a fast changing scene and it reminded me to keep things smaller for next time!

This was a better size (about 5x13in) and worked out quite nicely in terms of composition and balance of light. I was guilty of chasing the light a bit in this but it seemed worth it as every time I looked up the scene just got better and better!

Detail showing brushwork and sky colours of the above painting

All of the above are as they were when they came off the easel. As you can see, they're rough around the edges but far more valuable in terms of information than any photograph could give me. I might be tempted to do a larger studio piece based on these 'sketches'. I put the detail shot in as it shows  the marks, colour choices etc. I couldn't really look at the sun as it was so bright so it's more a case of trying to make a judgment whilst it's in my peripheral vision. Clearly, the sun is many times brighter than the yellow paint I used so it's interesting to see how an equivalent is arrived at. It's important to try and keep colour mixes clean so I get through plenty of brushes (saves time on cleaning them whilst in action).

Reference photos:

My palette for this one had less cadmiums as the colours in the early evening were less intense

I had the idea of doing two in succession but only managed one on this occasion. I'll use the spare as a starting point for next time.

See how the camera lies!!