Thursday, 20 December 2012

ROI paint evening

Monday night was the ROI annual paint evening at the Mall Galleries in London and I have to say it was a cracking event! It's a very popular night and once again the place was packed out with artists who were there to paint along with many people who just love to come along, see the artists at work and enjoy the friendly atmosphere. There's also the added bonus of being able to look at all the paintings in the annual show in a bit more detail.

Lots of ROI members were there and it was also good to see friends including Haidee-Jo Summers who I am delighted to report won the 'Best painting' prize! I enjoyed talking to familiar faces and those who I'd never met before. So many fine paintings, so many different styles...loose, detailed, zoomed, panoramic, expressive, bold, sensitive, subdued, colourful...great to see them all! There's a real creative energy and buzz to the night. The 125th annual exhibition for the Royal Institute of Oil Painters runs until 1pm on Sunday 23rd at the Mall Galleries, London. 

Yours truly with my loose study of Sophie who is 6 months pregnant and modelled flawlessly!

'Sophie Edkins Blackett, study at 6 months pregnant', 12x16in, oil on board by David Pilgrim.

My painting above evolved in a sketchy manner but I liked the effect and decided to stick with it, resisting the temptation to fiddle too much and focusing on the overall harmony of shapes, tones and colours. I enjoyed the pose and it made a nice change from just painting the head and shoulders.

Two more good friends, Haidee-Jo Summers, painting her winning painting alongside Adebanji Alade (Prov ROI) who painted a lovely piece (wish I'd got a closer shot of it!)

Haidee-Jo, alongisde the model and her superb winning painting. 

Graham Webber, prize winner from the main ROI show, with a very sensitive study of the surroundings

Natalia Avdeeva (Prov ROI) with her lovely interior piece that had some wonderful colours

My good pal Tim King with a his super study that capture the essence of 'Lewis'

Lachlan Goudie (Prov ROI), merrily painting (note the empty wine glass on his easel!)

Tim Benson (ROI) producing a fine, energetic piece with luscious brushmarks!

My palette....with a complimentary mince pie to tuck into

As you can see, it was pretty packed with three models to choose from.

On the way I passed a primary school choir singing carols in Trafalgar Square and I managed to catch a verse on my camera. Very atmospheric!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Venice part 2

We did get have a a day or so of sun but the light moved quickly on the short winter days. No time to hang about then!

'Late afternoon, Fondamenta Venier Sebastiano', oil on board, 10x8in
The one above was painted at speed as the shadow from the sun crept up the buildings. I really loved the scene as it had so much going for it...the warm/cool contrast of light, water, boats, people and a leaning church tower (not a mistake with my verticals I hasten to add!).

'Across the Grand Canal from Fondamenta Salute', oil on board, 8x10in
I painted this one above alongside Tim in the shadow of the Salute (a handy sun sheild for our boards). Usually, you get sparkle on the water when looking against the light overhead but in this instance the sparkles seemed to be reflecting back off ripples that were facing the light behind us. It was enough to draw us in but the sparkle didn't last long. Those windows on a small scale can be darn fiddly.

'Fast fading light, Salute Maria della Salute', oil on board, 6x8in
This little study was done at breakneck speed, probably 30 mins or so but I think it caught the atmosphere even if it might seem a but scruffy in parts. I was all painted out after working since dawn but thought it was worth a shot as I was in the perfect spot on the Accademia bridge. I loved the way the faint line of lights on the horizon softly emerged through the distant veil of fog.

'Fog from the Accadmemia bridge', oil on board, 10x8in
'Fog, Salute Maria della Salute from the Accademia bridge', oil on board, 6x8in
'Ponte Di Traverso',  oil on board, 10x8in
'Lantern seller, Rialto', oil on board, 8x10in
'Early light, St Giorgio from the Dogana', oil on board, 4x8in
And so ends another fantastic trip. Roll on the next one I say. I feel like I've barely even got started in Venice! Great fun, a mixed bag of paintings...some better than or two wipers but that's the way it goes working plein air (for me anyway). One hit is all you get but a darn good feeling if it comes off the middle of the bat :)
Tim, Haidee, me and Valerie in front of the acqua alta which arrived on our last day.

Delicious cakes and hot chocolates served on every corner!
As we were leaving, Tim couldn't resist a farewell (and rather accomplished I might add) blast on the harmonica, much to the amusement and delight of all the passengers.



Venice - Piazza San Marco

I recently returned from a fabuloso trip to Venice with a crew of painting pals. It's an incredible place and despite the fog, rain, floods and hoardes of tourists we all had a great time painting what has to be one of the most beautiful cities on the planet!

The roll call of plein air painters included Tim King, Haidee-Jo Summers, Valerie Pirlot, Karl Terry, David Bachman, Chris Daynes, Tony Dakin, Stuart Fullerton, Roy Connelly, Mike Richardson, Sidney Cardew, Eric (from Seville). I think that's everyone...hope I haven't left anyone off the list!

Venice is always a challenge and real test in terms of drawing, judging tones/values and many other painterly matters. I wanted to try and get to the 'essence' of the subjects and focus on the essentials without getting too distracted by fussy details. I remember discussing this with Tim on one of the Vaporetti, with Haidee and Valerie somewhat amused by our talk of the 'DEADLY fine line' between too much and too little detail. Dangerous sport this painting lark :)

Anyway, to the paintings. I've already started a larger studio version (18x24in) of the study below whilst it's all fresh in my mind! It's useful to have studied the facade of the Basilica a few times now and I can get a feel for the shapes. I love the way you get warm light reflecting up into the arches. The challenge will be to retain the energy of the location study in the studio piece....never easy! It was one of the few clearer days and as a result had a wider tonal range and more vibrant colours.

'Late morning, Piazza San Marco', oil on board, 10x13in (click images to enlarge)

Another one that seemed to work out OK was this wide view of St Mark's in the fog. A much more muted affair, I really tried hard to keep that 'envelope' of atmosphere in the murky haze. Although the fog obscures many views it can also add a unique atmosphere to certain subjects that you don't see very often. I'm tempted to have a go at a larger one of this one too....why not indeed!

'Fog, Piazza San Marco', oil on board, 7.5x15in
At certain points (and much to the amusment of onlookers) I couldn't see St Mark's at all!

I painted the one below of St Mark's on the back of a morning spent slaving over a couple of wipers. My excuse, me lud, being that I was rather wet and tired! Not sure about the figures but the rest seems to hold up. As with the fog, the tonal range seems to get compressed and I wanted to make use of the reflection of St Mark's in the Piazza. I enjoyed making use of the Campanile, which I avoided on the last trip. I found it quite jarring at first but it actually brings a nice note of colour and vertical structure, as do the flag poles.
'Rain, Piazza San Marco', oil on board, 10x13in
The light was quite flat but I quite liked the geometric arrangments and very subtle, pastel like shades in the next piece. Deceptively difficult in many ways...plenty of drawing whilst trying to retain some sense of colour harmony and depth. A enjoyable challenge nevertheless :)
'Side of St Mark's', 10x8, oil on board
This little study of the corner of St Mark's was done in the dense fog. Flirting dangerously with the 'veil of drabness', it was virtually monochromatic.
'Corner of St Mark's', 10x8, oil on board
David Bachman in the foggy Piazza

Mike Richardson, smiling for the tourists :)

Valerie, somwhere to be found amongst the flocks of tourists and pigeons!
Haidee-Jo, working on her masterpiece of the famous Florian's cafe!

Stuart Fullerton, happily painting, whatever the weather.

Detail of St Marks.

Entrance to St Marks, acqua alta.

And so the night shift begins for Roy Connelly and the other nocturne hunters.