Wednesday, 13 December 2017

#272 'Grazing on Snow' 8x14"

Second painting from the snow in the past couple of days. Really lucky to have this view from our back garden, with snow and sheep it transforms! 
Not much light but the snow was still really bright and the sheep looked surprisinlgy yellow! 
I came back from my first snow painting in the morning and saw the sheep in the snow field and thought wow they look great! By the time I'd come out of my studio with my gear they'd all gone! But knew they be back as there was a big patch of green to munch on! 
They did come, so I quickly got them down, hard not to make them to cutesie looking. 
Here's the beginning stages....

I wasn't sure how the green of the grass would work in the painting of greys and neutrals but it seams to lift it and work.
I hadn't really noticed how sloping the field was until I painted it! But it fits the format well.

On a different note I went to London today for artist Peter Browns talk and to see his amazing exhibition at Messums gallery on until 23rd December. One to get to if you can.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

#271 'Snow on Bramshott Common' 8x10"

Really tough painting conditions. Snowing, windy and bitter cold. Snow on the land makes it magical and I didn't want to miss the opportunity so I wrapped myself up in two of everything- trousers, coats, scarfs, socks...! Even a new fleece balaclava, allowed me to face the weather. 
I used my husbands old tattered golf brolly which I held religiously over my board and palette as if it gets too wet from the snow, paint resists on the board and you can't continue. So I had to do everything one handed not easy! It wasn't an option fixing the brolly to the easel as we would have taken off! So I held it up the whole time (I need bigger muscles!)  
I put the background trees in first a silvery violet leaving space for the foreground pine which was more intense colour and stronger in tone. Putting the lightest white snow next to test the tones. The distant snow is greyed down with a little violet and yellow. The tones of the snow are quite close together as it was a flat light, I changed the colours slightly between yellow and violet.
I got so cold by the end I could barely walk home, thankfully only 15 mins away but it was worth it!
I'm not sure if I will add snow flakes to the painting, and I may adjust some areas like the path later, once I've sat with it for a bit.
Got another 3 snow paintings to post... :-)

Me in my layers!

Monday, 11 December 2017

#270 'Morning Frost, The Trundle' 8x14"

I'm a bit behind with posting as I have three to put on, two snow paintings and this frosty one.
Took artist friend Sarah Manolescue for the first time to the Trundle. It was a gorgeous morning and she was wowed! I moved so I could get the sparkle on the sea in the distance and trees and shadows in the foreground. 
It was difficult to see the sky as it was washed out with the bright low sun. I wiped it off and repainted it when I got back to the studio. The sky tone had to be darker than the sea but lighter than the distant land. Using yellow in the sky and violet in the hills, complementaries working together.
Making the middle distant hills a green-blue colour and light in tone made it look like frost. The cows were tricky I hadn't put them in and the farmer turned up in his truck beeping his horn they all came running, so cute to watch. Feed time. I was pleased they did disperse again so I could paint them in - small and dark.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Equipment #2 Oil Paint Brushes

I love Rosemary & Co brushes, why? High quality, easy to clean, keep their shape for ages, lovely to use! (no, I'm not sponsored by them sadly!)
I used to use their Ivory range a synthetic bristle, a cross between the feel of nylon and hog bristle, they are an excellent brush for all round mark making.

I now use The Ultimate Bristle a traditional brush which has interlocking Chinese bristles - this makes them springy, wonderful to use and easy to clean, they are firmer than the Ivory range which gives a more painterly and brushy quality to your work.

Rigger Ivory useful for lines and details, the Round Ivory is the similar. 

Pro Arte Sterling Series 201
Synthetic, soft but manages oil paint well, good for detail and blocking in areas. Nice to use. 
I use long handles as I stand to paint and you need that extra length.

Bamboo Brush roll I brought mine (see pic) from Rosemary & Co. It has 8 pockets and you can put more than one brush in each, plus short or long handles. It allows the brushes to breath and doesn't squash the bristles.

Ceramic Brush Rest (See bottom right pic) Stops brushes rolling about and saves your tables and surfaces.

Brush cleaner Everyone seams to clean brushes in a different way. I use low odour solvent first and some sort of soap. Either: Murphy Oil Soap (USA) washing up liquid or Pears hand soap. 

Pots in Photo These are my extra brushes! Hard to throw away when they get used or types I've liked in the past but now changed my painting process or subject and they don't fit me now. For example Short Flat Ivory brushes I find them too soft for the result I want, 

I haven't written the next equipment post yet, I will be covering pochade, tripods, carrying bags, Palette Garage & how to transport equipment and wet paintings......See my previous post for Oil Paint, thank you Clare

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Equipment #1 Oil Paint

A fellow artist asked me to do a post about the equipment I use. I thought this was a good idea as I'm interested in what others use and can often learn and get ideas.
So I hope to do four posts on my equipment especially around plein air painting (outside painting). This can be translated into studio work as well.
It was tricky putting this post together as my equipment changes as I change and develop but here it as at this point! 

Oil Paint
Comprises of the 3 primaries, a warm & cool of each, an earth and whites.

Scarlet Lake (orange red)  Mixes well with Cad Yellows & muting greens
Permanent Rose (pink red) Lovely purples with Ultramarine, intense needs controlling

Ultramarine (has violet in, a dark tone) good all rounder for mixing Michael Harding rich colour, use a lot for mixing with Burnt Sienna
Cerulean (greenie, like turquoise, light tone) Great skies & water nice mixed with Naples Yellow

Naples Yellow Deep (warm & light tone) skies work well with this colour
Cadmium Yellow Lemon (cool greenie) strong, acidic light in tone, mixes well with Ultramarine for a clean green
Cadmium yellow (rich & warm) Use a lot of sunrise sunsets great mixer and 
Yellow Ochre (opaque) good for earthy greens and darker in tone than Naples Yellow

Burnt Sienna (mid brown) wonderful greys mixed with Ultramarine, love the M.Harding colour of this

Titanium (strong opaque),  Zinc (soft strength semi translucent),  Warm (medium strength good mixer)

The colours really differ between brands and I'm now leaning towards Michael Harding paint although it's on the top end of cost its quality is amazing as you only need a little to tint a colour mix for example their Cadmium Yellow Lemon is so powerful usually lemon yellow is a bit wishie washy not this, you just need a smidge to change the colour of your mix.
You can see which colours I use the most by the size of the tubes

The occasional use tubes (see pic) I will add extra to my palette depending where I go to paint eg a seascape I will add my two extra blues: Cobalt & Kings Blue Deep.
The Manganese Blue is a translucent version of the Cerulean, nice colour and useful for early stages in a painting when you want it thinner and translucent.
Raw Umber this used to be a favourite earth it's great for mixing with other paint to mute colours down also a greeny earth colour good for tree mixes.

Whites are important as we use so much of them in oil painting. I find Jackson Artist Titanium white good, and excellent value. Warm White is useful when you want a warm tint instead of the Titanium cool. Zinc is new for me, it's good for tinting a mix without loosing the colour to milkiness.

The ridged paint tubes - I have a tool to get all the paint out the tube! I will put on another equipment post.

I have written the next equipment post on brushes do sign up to receive my posts so you don't miss the next one. If this post has been helpful please leave a comment, and if you have any questions I welcome feedback. Thank you, Clare

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

#269 'On the River Dart, Devon' 8x10"

We have just spent a long weekend down in Devon visiting with a friend I did a couple of paintings but it was more of a social visit. 
Hated the first painting I did! Fussy, overworked, not confident, it was an off painting day and not easy as I was on display in a busy harbour!

This one was second,  easier in some ways although when I arrived it was beautiful light with the river snaking down to the Dartmouth estuary. But the light went quickly to grey and the river disappeared on the low tide!  Still a nice area to paint, reminded me of the Lake District. 
I painted it with the tide half in otherwise the whole scene is mud! 
I take my photos with my iphone which works well but it does pump up the colour and tone contrast so the yellow is popping out more than it should.

Here is a picture of my palette before I started painting, with the main colours mixed I can then mix colours together as I'm painting for subtle nuances and a harmonious palette.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

#268 'Sunrise, Bosham Channel' 8x14"

I had seen this view passing in the car so it was a bonus it was so gorgeous.  I was surprised to see over 30 swans nestling in the sea grass, cleaning and having breaky, it was quite a sight!
A very cold start, the sun rose to the left of the picture and the shape of the shoreline where the tide level was just right, it led the eye in nicely and with little posts in the foreground not sure what they were for. 
The tower in the distance is the witches hat of the Bosham Church. Nice to have a focal point along that horizon line.
The green sea grass was very dark in tone but had a little light and colour on it. I used the mix for the brown foreground foliage and added Cadmium Yellow, Ultramarine Blue and a little Zinc White - which lightens but not too much. I will go back there it was a great spot!
(The above photo was taken not of the exact subject I painted as the sun came up and it was too bright to see the work so I moved the easel around.)

More news..... 
This week was the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (ROI) Private View and start of their exhibition. My first time showing at The Mall Galleries so I was hopping around with excitement looking at the wonderful work - worth a visit if your in London. I felt so proud to have my painting on display, it's the landscape above my head. It's been one of my goals as an artist so lets hope it continues!

Friday, 24 November 2017

#267 'Early Morning, Emsworth Harbour' 15x40cm

Driving down to the coast it was a grey blanket of cloud so I was pleased to find this beautiful sky when I arrived and I liked the little glimpses of light on the water.

Painting a sky one of the things I think about is edges. Making some of them soft and others hard. I do this by wet into wet paint, or wiping with my hand or rag to soften an edge. The hard edges I paint and leave. Also keeping the tonal range close together and changing the colours warm to cool. The sky when its a feature like this I put in first - also it changed quickly as ever!
I had to be careful that I didn't make the boats to poppy in tone or colour as they were contra jour and not very lit. But I wanted them to have some differentiation between the mud and boats to see them!
The sky line is roughly mapped in as I didn't want to draw attention to it - its not important. The sweep around of water there is a big contrast of tones between the water and the mud so the eye is drawn to this bit which it good (& intentional!)
Here is my palette and on location pic:

Thursday, 23 November 2017

#266 'Putney Pier, London' 8x14"

I went to see Richard Pikesleys solo exhitbition yesterday at the Russell Gallery in Putney. Really inspiring show, I love his mark making and amazing light!  
So I was all fired up afterwards and did this painting. 
I was lucky with the tide it was just right for a nice shaped shoreline. I painted that first and then the sky with pastel colours. See pic below with how I started.

#265 'Sunrise from Lyme Regis' 8x14"

I wasn't sure about posting this one as the easel fell over (it was on a slanted harbour wall - The Cobb) and the painting came off the easel and all the solvent spilt onto the painting! This is a photo of it before it was ruined, but thought I'd post it to tell the story! 
NB don't wipe turps off a painting as you wipe the painting off too!

I did this study that evening sunset, I tired out my new lights they work really well for nocturnal/sunsets. You can buy them from Amazon as orchestral or reading lights they come under.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

#264 'Low Tide Charmouth Beach' 15x40cm

Gorgeous day with the tide far out, the light was shining on the sand and I was in painting Heaven!
The family I put in a Mum, Dad and little toddler were lovely to paint, they moved slowly which helped!
I used a mixture of thin and thick paint. The reflections in the wet sand were thin and the light next to the sea thicker, I echoed this light on the horizon in the sky.
I made sure I got the tonal value and the shapes of the cliffs right - the iconic 'Golden Cap'.

It wasnt long before the sea was lapping at my ankles!

#263 'Harbour Entrance, Lyme Regis' 5x10"

Painting this on a 5x10" boards helps me be more free as its small and feels like a study so isn't prescious and I can attack it! 

It helped I was quite far away from the subject so its easier to translate onto a small board - see below. 

I started with thin dark paint on the harbour wall and then put the light in on the water next to it, as it could change quickly. 
It was the only bit of water in the harbour as the tide was out, it looked like the plug had been pulled as it's a mass of mud, bouys and boats!

#262 'Wintery Skies, Charmouth Beach' 8x14"

This is a new board size and it works well for this sweaping sort of subject and when you want more sky in. 
A grey day apart from the sliver of light on the horizon, the sky was fun to paint. 
There's an estuary going through the beach which deposits water and makes the stones on the beach darker with algea which helps to break up the line of the sea to sand.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

#261 'Sky & Sea Study, Dorset' 8x10"

It was a grey day but the sun came out for 30 minutes or so and I grabbed it! 
When a subject is changing so quickly I paint it in the order it's going change the most. 

1. Clouds - the shape & colour 
2. Light on the water the lightest part and the area surrounding it
3. The sun & area around it
4. Horizon line of the sky how it compares to the sea - how the yellow in the sky compares to the sunlight on the water.
5. Sea - the darker waves int eh foreground
6. Block in the rest of the sea and sky

Painting like this is fast and focused not stopping in one area long observing and getting it down as a moment in time.

#260 'Charmouth Beach' 8x10"

A grey morning so I put the emphasis onto the beach by making the horizon line on the top third of the board and using the seaweed lines and pebbles to help lead the eye in.
I painted this subject 4 times during last week, so helpful to learn the subject shapes to then focus on other aspects like the tonal values or colours.
I put the little people in to give some scale of the huge beach - no colour needed just dark silhouettes. 
The flat top cliff is called Golden Cap and is the highest point on the south coast of England being 191 meters. The top of the cliff is sandstone hence the name.

#259 'Golden Cap Looking West' 8x10"

I have just had a week in Dorset painting the local area of Bridport, Charmouth & Lyme Regis all on the Jurassic Coast.
I was lucky with the weather, it didn't rain once! and had some great sunsets and rises.
I have about 10 paintings to post from the trip and will do 2-3 a day.

On the first day I arrived to catch the sunset, and was really pleased to find this view at the end of the caravan park I was staying in - dramatic cliffs with great shapes. 
I started to paint late afternoon and had 3/4 of the painting down when the sunset lit the sky, it was beautiful. I tried putting in the colourful sky but it didn't fit the rest of the painting and I would have had to repaint the lot to match, I decided to keep it how it was. Sometimes you can't chase the light!

Saturday, 11 November 2017

#258 'Dusk, Beer Fishing Boats' 15x45cm

I had started this on Beer beach a couple of weeks ago, but it was the end of the day and I was pooped after painting since dawn, so I decided to leave it finish to the studio. I'm glad I did because it was a challenge! 

The boats were the easiest bits and fun to paint. The sea and sky ... Because it was dusk there wasn't much light shining on the boats so they were silhouetted against the sea and getting the tonal value right was hard. And the sky being a small strip needed to get the colour intensity and tone right - 4 attempts later!
I painted the boats with a short flat brush - Rosemary & Co 'Ultimate' range and then painted the sea in a bigger size of this brush it didn't look right too uniformed in the strokes, scarped it off and re did it with a large round brush. Better!
The foreground stones of the beach also tricky as I don't want to make it too blocky and strong as its not the feature of the painting, but it was dark because of the time of day.

A good learning painting which is harder to do when painting outdoors as the time is limited and you are just focusing to get the painting down.

Been preparing 40 board (see pic below) for a trip to Dorset - I wont be using all 40 boards! Having a week in a caravan in November & hoping it's not a mistake! But looking forward to painting the Dorset coast.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

#257 'View from Battersea' 5x10"

I was up in London yesterday with friend and artist Sarah Manolescue. We were hoping for winter sun but it was grey and cold! 
I had one of those days which didn't work well for painting. Why?  
I started 2 paintings which I have scraped off and this was the 3rd. The other two the composition wasn't working plus I had bitten off more than I could chew. 
Caroline Greene asked a question a couple of posts ago about whether I have awarenes and intention behind every stroke and mark I make. It's an interesting one to think about when you paint. Do you do the painting a bit like driving a car being on auto pilot - suddenly and the painting is finished and you don't remember the process! I try to have awareness as much as I can while doing it, but being tried makes a difference as you don't have the ump! and to make all the decisions required. I was tired yesterday.
This little oil sketch is ok, and I'm happy to have something for all my efforts! We were pleased to see the sun just before it set. But by then our fingers and toes were so frozen & numb we couldn't do it anymore, time to go home....

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

#256 'Pheonix, Emsworth Harbour' 24x30cm

This scene didn't look that inspiring when I started the painting but knew it would get better as the sun rose. I liked the jaunty angle of the boat and part reflection obscured by the mud. 

It wasn't long before the tide rolled in and the boat was upright and floating. I made sure I didn't start painting it like this as its whole different painting on top of it! (see above pic)
There are three main colours two of them being complementary Red-Orange & Green-Blue, they do seam to go together well and the other a warm and cool grey.

Two areas I found difficult in the painting were the strip of houses on the horizon and the cabin of the boat. The houses I repainted until I finally cracked it, painting a block of similar tone and then over painting and picking out some roof shapes, it didn't need much. The Boat cabin was getting the drawing right and the tonal values within it. The mud line also got to fussy and overworked so wiped it off and had another go. (See pic below for the 3 areas.) 
I sometimes re paint san area as many times as it takes, it often adds to the painting to have ghost of marks underneath, so I don't think of it as a negative thing - although it can be frustrating sometimes!

Sunday, 5 November 2017

#255 'Morning Light, Emsworth Harbour' 5x10"

I did this one straight after the previous painting posted. Just moved around the harbour a bit.    I am a sucker for sparkle on the water! 
The boats were really silhuetted and strong shapes. I moved my body so the compostion of them worked - and then I didn't have to move them on my painting. I did edit a few out as it was too complex for the size board.
Again painted quickly as after 40 minutes the sparkle was gone. Limited tones 4 main ones. The colours mainly yellow and blue - Ultramarine & Naples Yellow.
Looking for little highlights on the boats as well especially the tops where the sun hits them.

When I get back to my studio I always get the paintings out and line them up on my shelf to decide if they work or not. I'm pleased with these two as a pair - it's not often they work together.

#254 'Fishing Boat, Emsworth Harbour' 8x10"

A quick painting of a still morning. Passers by were commenting on what a lovely morning to be painting, yes, so lucky I said. 
Not easy though, as this scene shanged within 30 minutes of starting it. I posted the photo (see below) on Instagram to show how different it looked - the wind had picked up so no reflections and the the boat had turned 180 degrees, oh my!
Kept the colour palette limited as it was contra jour the colours are mire subdued and silhutted. I ratio of tonal values: most of it is light eg the sea and sky being the same and a small area of very dark tonal value which makes the composition interesting.
Little highlights of almost white dotted around for the sun sparkles.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

#253 'Morning Light Albert Bridge' 8x10"

On Monday I went to London to see the Chelsea Open Exhibition which I was very pleased to have two paintings showing in it. One of them was Albert Bridge so I was inspired to have another go at it. 
I have noticed the light is changing now the sun is lower in the sky and it was a gorgeous morning.

I started a couple of times and wiped off, I liked the reflection of the bridge posts and moved the composition up to get them in. 
With this faffing I then started without drawing as I wanted to capture the light as it was so I just got the colour down. 
See the stages below. So much harder to work out all the shapes and proportions as you go but it seams to work well as a method - one that Richard Pikesley artist, has suggested to me in the past.
I also experimented with getting the wall and lamp post in on the left side, but being a relatively small board the two strong uprights (the bridge & post) competed with each other and didn't work so I took the lamp post out.

Painting the bridge without drawing first

The two paintings which got into the prestigious Chelsea Exhibition last weekend.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

#252 'Morning Light, Beer Beach' 5x10"

I thought the sunrise was going to be a bit of a damp squib. So I had started another painting of the fishing boats but without the light it wasn't working so when the flash of orange appeared I picked up my easel and almost ran to the edge of the beach! Then painted a quick oil sketch to get it down, sunrise seams to change more quickly than sunsets. I started with the bit that would change the quickest and the most important -  the orange in the sky and water reflection and then painted everything else around it including the land.
This was the last painting of Beer....back to Surrey.

I stepped back to look at the painting and thought how nice the scene looked, it's the red boat I painted when I first arrived in Beer.

#251 'Beer Head' 8x10"

I looked around after I finished the previous boat painting I posted and saw the light on the water and sky and thought I've got to paint that! So I turned my easel around and started straight away. The light only lasted about 30 minutes so it was a scramble to get it down. 

I blocked in the main shape of the cliff first and then the water and sky. I had painted the same cliff the day before from a higher aspect but haven't posted it as Im not convinced the painting works! It's not easy because the cliff is white chalk but there was no light on it, it was behind therefore in silhouette. Underpainting in one colour and then picking up areas over the top seams to unify.  Also keeping the paint for the water thinner in some places and thicker where the light hits.
There were some figures, so small you can hardly see them, but there there :-)
The scene reminds me of something Monet would paint!

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

#250 'Fishing Boats, Beer' 8x10"

An enjoyable afternoon painting with some local artists from friends and instagram buddies from the Devon area. 
The light wasn't great flat and dull but choosing a colourful and interesting shapes to paint helps when there is no light to feature.
Spent quite a bit of time getting the composition right, decided to chop the last one in half. I also put in the pontoon on wheels but it was too long and made the composition unbalanced so took it out. I added an upright instead - the person which helped. 
Kept the brushwork quite loose and free not wanting to be too exact. Also matching the style of the loose sky to the boats.

Happy to say this painting is my 100th of this year :-) 

#249 'Dawn Fishing Trip' 15x40cm

I really like the shapes of the boats and the morning activity when the fisherman are loading up ready for day on the water.
It needed fast painting as there was little time between the sun coming up and the boats disappearing over the edge of shingle. They are pushed by the tractor down the 5 meter drop into the sea, and when they ome back they are winched the steep slope back onto the brow of the beach. 
I had barely got the main shape of the left red one and it had gone and then the navy blue one the other side! It's good to do quick studies as you dont have time for procrastinating just totally focused and laying paint down.