Wednesday, 20 July 2022

Painting by the sea

     Last week the Patchings Art Festival lived up to its usual high standards: it was a great pleasure to be demonstrating before the enthusiastic audiences in the St Cuthberts Marquee once more after a two-year absence because of Covid. Meeting so many of our friends, students, artists, manufacturers and by no means least, Chas and Liz Wood and their family who organise such a fabulous event, as always was truly heart-warming, and the response was so eager that Jenny and I were quite mind-blown at the end of each day. As the song goes, "Nobody does it better," - you're simply the best, Chas and Liz.

    Sadly, a number of people have had to pull out of my course in Cornwall from 4th to 8th September due to illness, so there are 2 or 3 vacancies should anyone wish to join us near Mullion. With the fabulous Cornish scenery at a lovely time of year, this is a great opportunity to do some exciting work with a variety of fascinating subjects. I shall be doing many demonstrations, both outdoors and in the studio, and details are available from  Alpha Painting Holidays on 01934 733877  or by email: joinus@alphapaintingholidays.com


    Skies, light and atmosphere are all vital ingredients in landscapes and seascapes and these will be a strong feature of the course in Cornwall, with a sprinkling of wildlife in the form of seabirds in many of the paintings. Waves often give artists some troublesome moments, but as you will see in the painting above, these can be kept simple, yet providing a sense of liveliness. Enjoy your summer painting!



Thursday, 30 June 2022

Losing bits of the subject

     As landscape artists we often see far too much in a scene for the good of our painting, and slavishly copy as much of the detail as we can. It really does pay to think about your need to include even what may seem to be an important part of the subject, and ask yourself if it does help to include the whole feature, or can you make subtle changes before that brush touches your paper?

    In this view of Penyghent in Yorkshire, although I could see the entire mountain clearly, I felt that the profile was too stark: there was no mystery. So I introduced some lower cloud on the right to lose that strong curving edge of  the peak by bringing down the shadow part of the cloud with French ultramarine and cadmium red over the yellow ochre of the mountainside. Then, by emphasising the shadowy shape of the lower part of the fell as it came out of the cloud, the overall shape of Penyghent was retained. The work was done on Saunders Waterford 140lb NOT paper.

The demonstrations will take place in the St Cuthberts Mill Marquee each morning. It will be great to return to Patchings after the two-year absence because of Covid. We will also have a small stand at the event, so do come along and see us.

    Unfortunately my webinar with Painters On-line had to be cancelled because of my throat and chest infection which made it impossible for me to speak properly, but we are back on track now and the event is rescheduled for 11am on 4th August when I will be painting a Nile scene. I'm sorry for any inconvenience to anyone who booked. See details at Painters Online 


  

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

On-line painting demonstration

     With so much happening at the moment it's not easy to remember everything I need to say, so chaos is reigning here. My exhibition Arabian Light, which launched my new book of the same name, has ended at the excellent Osborne Studio Gallery in London, and it was a great success - quite a relief during these straightened times!

    I shall be continuing with the same theme during my Webinar for Painters-online where you can book a place. It takes place at 11am on Tuesday 21st June, and I shall be painting a view of the River Nile in evening light with an interesting sky and lots of atmosphere. You are welcome to ask questions during the event.

    Arabian Light is not a practical guide, but is packed with sketches and watercolours from the Middle East, with lots of colour, and shows how I approach working on location. Signed copies are available from my website 


    I recently dropped some new paintings in to the Waterfront Gallery in Milford Haven (tel. 01646 695699), which is right on the quayside opposite the marina. They include one of St Govan's Chapel viewed from across the bay from St Govan's Head.

    This shows the main part of the composition, the chapel caught in strong sunshine while mist is rising over the backgroiund cliff. Most of the rocks in sunlight have been left as white paper and lacking in detail, while those in shadow stand out in contrasting tones. It is the cast shadow that emphasises the effect of sunlight, further accentuated by the dark foreground rock structures.

    Enjoy your painting!




Thursday, 12 May 2022

Lost and Found effects in a painting

     In any painting, if you include everything you see the result will just be an overworked photographic version. While some people appreciate this approach, most see the benefit of 'editing' the image to produce a cleaner, more atmospheric and painterly work. One of the most important aspects of my creative process is that of using atmosphere and the 'lost and found' technique to heighten the effect of a moody scene.

    This watercolour of the tombs of the caliphs in Cairo shows the scene bathed in warm evening light after the sun has set, using the atmosphere to completely eliminate any detail in the distance, while also subduing much of the architectural information on the main buildings. Not only does the rising smoke hide much detail, but the lost and found effect can be observed further to the left where some of the elements have been faded out. You can achieve this by deliberately reducing the detail until that passage becomes almost blank, or another extremely effective method is to simply paint in the main architectural features as normal, and when this is dry fade part of it out with a damp sponge or by lightly scrubbing out with an old soft-haired brush.

    I shall be painting a similar scene to this as a demonstration at The Bookshop  in East Grinstead at 7pm on Thursday 19th May. It is pretty much fully booked, but because of Covid there are likely to be a number of cancellations, so it might be worth telephoning the bookshop on 01342 322669  They will, of course, have copies of my new Arabian Light book. The exhibition of the same name will be continuing from 18th to 27th May at the Osborne Studio Gallery in London  Tel. 020 7235 9667, where you can see the paintings from the book.

    Watch out also in Leisure Painter Magazine for my on-line webinar on 21st June where I will be painting a sunset scene on the River Nile - more about that in due course.


Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Bringing atmosphere, drama and the sublime to a village painting

     Many landscape painters love working on tranquil village scenes where time seems to stand still and locals engage in conversation. Here I am deviating from the traditional village composition to add a strong ingredient of atmosphere, drama and the sublime, for this village stands high on the very edge of a vast canyon in the mountains of Oman.

    In this watercolour the morning mist cloaks the background mountains and subdues detail in the further parts of the village, in places aided by strong light bleaching out features so that they are only half-seen. Two figures stand near the centre, drawing the eye - you don't need to make your figures large in order to emphasise the human aspect, but note how there is no detail behind them. This really makes them stand out. They stand at the edge of a sheer drop, thus dramatically creating a sensation of the sublime, a feeling of possible danger. While this latter sensation is rarely found in a British village you can still enhance such paintings with carefully considered atmosphere and even a little drama with the right lighting.

    This painting is featured in my new book, Arabian Light, published this month by Search Press, and packed with paintings and sketches of my travels in the Middle East.  Details of the book are on my website. The book will be launched at my exhibition in the Osborne Studio Gallery, at 2 Motcomb Street, London SW1X  8JU  Telephone  +44(0)20 7235 9667   The exhibition runs from 18th to 27th May and I will be in the gallery for much of 18th if you would like to pop in for a chat.

Monday, 14 March 2022

Painting massed trees in a landscape

     Most of the time I find there is too much action happening and not enough talking - it's great fun, but leaves little time for communicating, and there is not enough room in this blog to cover everything. I'll have to leave my sketching adventures in Snowdonia of last week for the next blog. 

    Yesterday in Aberedw we had an event to raise money for the Ukrainian refugees. We are only a tiny village but we raised over £1,000 and will be trying to get another event organised soon in which I hope to be able to sell paintings in support of these unfortunate people. It's hardly believable that this is happening in Europe in the 21st century, and sadly we have a pretty poor political representative locally, so I've been active in ruffling some political feathers as well.


    As with Covid, it is amazing how art, like nature, can help us in wartime, whether to take our mind off the dangers of war, or  perhaps cooling our anger at the appalling and brutal actions of dictators like Putin. With spring about to burst upon us it's a good time to get out into the landscape. One of the things that cause many students problems is when trees are massed together. Trying to make sense of it all can seem unsurmountable at times.


    In this section of a painting you will see the varying tones on the four blocks of conifers, the strength of tones suggesting a sense of depth in the scene, aided by a feeling of a misty day. It's usually a good idea to include a bright colour amongst duller ones as you can see in the bottom centre. The light is coming from the left so the edges on the right-hand side of the trees have been kept soft, while those to the left are harder-edged where they are caught in the sunshine. The bright yellow foliage does not appear in the centre of the full painting as that would not be compositionally helpful.

    My watercolour course in Builth Wells from 3rd to 8th April still has a few vacancies, and anyone who would like to join us on a non-residential basis will be welcome. The Caer Beris Manor Hotel will charge a modest fee for refreshments and hotel facilities, plus a tuition fee of £215. You can check the course information on my website and book the course with the hotel on 01982 552601  We shall be using the hotel ballroom as a studio this time, so there is plenty of room for us all to work and keep apart.

Monday, 28 February 2022

Warming up your Landscapes

     When you begin a painting do you stop to consider your colour management or simply copy the colours in the original scene or photograph? Whether you are a serious artist intent on improving your work, or perhaps painting simply for enjoyment, it is so much more rewarding to create a composition where you can inject some of your own ideas to add interest.


     In this watercolour of the Brecon Beacons I decided to create a much warmer feeling than was present in the scene on that particular day, and enhance the summery mood. Apart from the cobalt blue in the sky most of the scene embodies warmer colours, and after establishing the clouds with the blue I laid on permanent alizarin crimson over the lower sky. The blues on the mountains are French ultramarine with a touch of cadmium red added, resulting in a lovely warm purpley-blue. The greens on the fields have also been warmed up with touches of gamboge, and there are also some gamboge and cadmium orange fields to liven things up. In the foreground I dropped in some Indian red wet-in-wet to produce soft edges and when this was dry spattered Indian red and white gouache before finally scratching out reeds with a scalpel.

    At the end of this week I am starting once more to do live workshops, this one at the excellent Sandpipers studio on the Wirral, while on 3rd April I start my first post-Covid course at the superb Caer Beris Manor hotel in Builth Wells. There are still places available on this course, so if you feel like getting out into beautiful landscapes again you will be very welcome. We will be sketching outside (hopefully painting as well if the weather is fine), and also working indoors in the ballroom which has plenty of room for us to keep apart from each other. Details are on my website  Emphasis will be on injecting atmosphere into your landscapes and putting something of yourself into the subject.

    Sadly we haven't had much snow this winter, but with spring about to burst upon us let's hope that this will herald better times for getting out and about with our paintboxes.