Tuesday, 20 February 2018

#304 'Afternoon Light, Woolacombe Beach' 8x14"


The last painting of our Devon trip....

Nipped home for lunch and came straight back as we knew the light was going - rain due. I didn't know what I would paint which often happens, you just have to see when you get there what looks good and inspires.
This was it, actually the same view as I had done an hour or so previous!
This time the sun had come around to make it more contra jour, the clouds were building and the light and colours quite soft.
This is how I started getting the main shape of the cloud and the shape of the light.

Having the strong foreground rocks makes the rest looks light and soft. Keeping the palette limited and harmonious helps to make it look contra jour. Not putting in too much detail as its a big view. 
Hope to go back, an inspiring place :-)
Painting on the cliff top

Monday, 19 February 2018

#303 'Woolacombe Beach' 8x14"


Quite often when I'm painting I would look around the in the other direction and there is another painting to be had! I saw this sky when was I painting the previous post - 'Morning Shadows, Barricane Beach'.

Some paintings are real struggle but this one did itself.
Making the spit of land (Baggy Point) a small scale helped to make the expanse look big. Also putting the little people in - spot the walking surfer!
The foreground rocks were in a straight line which didn't work for the composition - too many horizontals, so I broke the shape up but still showed they were there and making it the darkest tone.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

#302 'Looking down on Barricane Beach' 10x12"


Had a great day today, 3 paintings and lovely weather! 
This was my first, a challenge to say the least. The rocks were hard, to get the tonal differences right and working with the rest of the painting. The sand shadow may still need work, it started off a bit dark so I lightened it and maybe a bit warm. 
It's hard to tell in one alla prima paint, looking the next day you often see things you didn't see the day before! Here it is before I reworked it:

First stages...Squinting my eyes to simplify and blocking in the shadow areas and linking the shapes together. You can also see how strong the shadow was in the photograph.

Perched on top of the cliff, tide going out, sea looking bluer than when I began. It was fun painting the little people too - gives it scale.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

#301 'Light over Baggy Point' 8x10"


Within minutes of starting this painting my subject disappeared - the light! A huge raincloud came over, I carried on for a bit but then abandoned and started another one. 

The rain cloud was amazing so dramatic, I enjoyed painting it. The photo doesn't really show the subtleties here is a sneak preview... It's not quite finished.

Then back to this one after the rain front went.
This photo isn't great either, it was into the light so I moved the pochade a smidge so what you see is not my subject!
I wanted to make strong brush strokes no fiddling. I was on a top of a very windy exposed cliff and I had to attack my painting so it had the same energy as the subject. The sea was so loud the crashing waves. Quite a spot!

#300 'Barracane Beach' 8x10"


I felt out of my comfort painting this, not used to rocky shorelines and big waves! But it's good to push the skills and enjoyed painting it. 
Quite a sheltered spot and by the time I finished full of children and dogs! I decided not to include them as I had already mapped in and to go over the top doesn't work as well as including them in the beginning and painting around them.
Although I did have a little episode with a dog, a women shrieked as a dog came running towards me, and I wasn't quick enough to stop him peeing on my art bag! The lady was mortified, 'he's an old dog' she said. I understood having an old dog ourselves but still my bag was now a target for other dogs (the smell)!!
It was a beautiful morning although you can see a cloud front had come in and started to rain as we left.
I put the darks of the rocks first and made sure the lights of the rock weren't too light. The sea was quickly receding in low tide so had to get it in before it went.
I would like to paint this again now that I am more familiar with this subject.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

#299 'Sunset Study, Woolacombe Beach' 8x14"


I painted this one straight after the first, as I was upset with that painting (it had been a struggle!) Also the sunset was amazing and I wanted to try and capture it in paint.

I only painted for about 40 minutes as it was over by then and nearly dark! (very cold too!)
I think it needs a bit more work will have a look at it when in the studio at home.
here is the beginning:


When its predominately a sky painting I start with the clouds if they are strong like these ones. Mapping in the main shapes in a warm and cool similar colour. Then to the sunlight, as it will change quickly, how it effects the clouds, what colour the light is - cool white or warmer yellow. 
There was also no need to draw before I started the painting as it was about colour and light less structure that needed to be drawn out.

#298 'High Tide, Woolacombe Beach' 8x10"


My husband and I are in North Devon for a week, to paint, photograph and rest. This was my first painting, it was tricky as I forgot my plastic palette insert for my pochade so mixed my paint on the back of a board (not ideal!) It's surprising how just one thing can throw you when plein air painting.  Also being contra jour the light on the water made looking at my painting difficult so I ended up turning the pochade away from the scene and looking over my shoulder at the subject!
It's mainly a tonal study keeping the colour palette limited and trying to observe the tonal comparisons eg is the sky the same tone as the sea?
After an hour or so I scraped off areas, painted over parts I was not happy with it, but got it home and it wasn't as bad as thought! So here it is, 
Here's the start:

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

#297 'Albert Bridge' 12x16"


During a rainy day when plein air isn't so easy or appealing I painted this in my studio from a small plein air I did in September last year. 
I had started it (see pic below) and then it sat in my studio for a month. I was unsure as to whether it was going to work out and with a little encouragement from my husband I continued and finished it.

I decided I wanted to mess it up before I started to apply paint. So I took some fine sand paper to it.... See pic below.
This helped take away the harsh edges and allowed me to add paint freely over the top. I have kept some of the sanding showing especially on the right hand trees.
The board is lot bigger than the plein air study and so there's more subject that will fit into it.
I used a glaze medium to thin the paint called Robersons Matt Glaze instead of Sansodor I normally use. A lot stickier, shiny and thicker consistency unsure as to whether its' better than Sansodor!  
Considering I wasn't even going to finish the painting it's turned out well and it is now for sale on The Mall Galleries website for the Buy Art Buy Now section. So exciting to be represented by the Mall Galleries online!!
see link...


Friday, 9 February 2018

#296 'Storm Approaching, East Head' 8x12"


We knew a storm was coming and only had an hour or so to paint, I was with artist Sarah Manolescue.
Finding a spot that wasn't in the direct line of the gale was tricky. I liked the dunes being lit by the sun and the building clouds as a backdrop.
The people gives it some scale and with a very limited palette:
I used the green mix for the violet and yellow mixes. Sometimes that works to mix one colour with all your other mixes - helps to harmonise. Yellow & Violet are complimentaries and I pushed the sky to a more violet colour which helps the colours zing!
I warmed the yellow with Burnt Sienna on the right side and also put burnt sienna in the violet sky mix to link the two. 

Thursday, 8 February 2018

#295 'Late Afternoon Reflections' 10x10"


I had a plan to paint the sunset at Emsworth (Hampshire), I had seen it recently and went back to paint a certain view. But on the day you have to choose what's good and yesterday it was these beautiful still waters, reflections and strong colours...
A lovely subject to paint, it makes a difference with how colour saturated a subject is by where the sun is. This time the sun was opposite the view, recently I have been looking more into the sun, which takes out the colour and makes it more tonal.

I enjoyed painting the colours of boats, although quite complex with mixing each colour and then separate but connected colours for the reflections!
The boats were arranged in this composition although they moved about quite a bit on the incoming tide. I took out a couple of boats to make it more pleasing.

A family next to me were feeding the birds they were going mad for the bread, the swans didn't get a look in.

I have managed to finish and upload a speeded up video demonstration of the previous painting, have a look at number #295 for the 40 second video....

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

#294 'Low Tide, Langstone Harbour' 8x10" & Video


I went back to Langstone (in Hampshire near Portsmouth) yesterday it's been a while since I painted their. It is an inspiring place even with just a trickle of water! 

Video News
I've been wanting to video my painting process and share it for a while. My recent delves into watching people paint on You Tube has inspired me to try. 

Its not easy knowing there's a camera on you the whole time and I decided to keep it simple and not do commentary but I kept having to shut my mouth as I wanted to explain what I was doing and justify some actions! It does feel like your going to be judged.

But annoyingly my battery ran out so I only got 3/4 of the painting - about 40 mins worth. But it was a good first attempt. I'm not sure if I will post the long version as I put the camera on the right side and my mixing arm rather gets in the way of the painting, I will try again and put the camera the other side! 

The painting has a limited palette and emphasising the light on the water - keeping everything else tonally darker. 
Happy I was able to produce while under pressure!
Here is the video a speeded up version of about 40 seconds. What do you think?


Sunday, 4 February 2018

#293 'Winter Sun, Emsworth Harbour' 8x14"


Some plein air painting days don't turn out as you expect...I went to Bosham first but with high tide, a biting wind, no reflections, and no boats it wasn't inspiring so I went to my other favourite painting spot (Bosham Channel) but again with high tide it wasn't working. 
Last location was Emsworth, the wind was so strong and big gusts I didn't think I could manage it, and of course the scene I want to paint was exposed on the harbour wall. Just about everyone commented to me a hard day to be painting! Yes I thought ;-)
I started by thinking just get a few strokes down and then I can finish in the studio... (Sometimes when it feels daunting or hard to start this thought can help.) No need to worry as I finished on the spot and quite enjoyed it! As I wasn't so careful and just did it quickly and intuitively. 

Another thing was I had my sunglasses on I can't remember the last time I painted with them on, but being so bright it takes out any definition so with them on I could see more and it protects my eyes. I will use them again for contra jour.

Packing up I had to let go of my pochade, and of course a big gust of wind and it took off you can see how close I am to the water, I caught it with one tripod leg. Gave me and the swans a fright!

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

#292 'Winter, Winkworth Arboretum ' 8x10"


I completed this oil sketch in one hour this afternoon. 
The sun was out for about 20 minutes when I started which was a bonus as it looked so much better with the light on the trees. Squinting my eyes I could see quite a difference with the lower foliage being in shadow. 
First stages...
One of my new things I'm working on is not copying exactly what I see in the subject colour wise, so the dark area I exaggerated the red-violets more. Taking what I see as a starting point but then using complementaries together and lifting certain colours more. Which will hopefully be a more pleasing result. When I first started plein air I thought you were supposed to mix the exact colour for everything you see but you don't have too which is quite liberating!

I was watching You Tube again last night prepping for todays painting and I saw Roos Schuring painting and an interview after, she is a well known Dutch painter. 
She has wonderful brush strokes and thick paint in her work. Something I picked up was she said don't use too soft a brush as the brush marks wont show so well, use old bristly stiff brushes. So I dug out my very old rejected brushes (Escoda Filbert no.16) and had a go today. They worked really well for the winter foliage. Here is the link to Roos painting if your interested......

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

#291 'Cutmill Creek' 9x10"


One of those that happened like magic! It painted itself. 
I spent sometime looking for the 'right' composition and ended up back at the first place I looked! I had been put off as my back was right next to a main road - loud and fast.
But I enjoyed painting it and tried to keep the brush strokes loose and visible.
The board was given to me from artist friend Sarah Manolescue. A trial for a new format being 9x10" quite unusual but it worked well for this subject. If it was square the composition is harder to get right.
This is right next to Bosham, a great little area, I have now painted 3 times, many more to come!...

Sunday, 28 January 2018

#290 Tower Bridge 10x12" & Preparing for a Days Painting


The sky was beautiful when I arrived a typical English with cloud fluffies and crisp blue behind them. I was lucky as by the time I'd painted the sky it had clouded over and it was mainly grey! So different and not as magical.

I thought it maybe helpful & or interesting to read what I do to prepare before a days painting especially in a big city....

Weather forecast Check for rain & wind. Sun & cloud was due so perfect! How windy? - Gusts up to 30mph = cold and need winter tripod & layers.

Research on google other peoples paintings of this area eg 'Tower Bridge plein air paintings'. And ask questions of myself 'what do I like, what compositions work well and formats'...

Google Maps
Drop the man onto the map to see a photo of the view and whether it makes a good painting subject, also helps to work out board size shape..

Tube station check how far it is to walk - with all the gear! (or parking if I drive.)

Suncalc app on Android phone 
Put in any position on a map like Tower Bridge and see where the sun direction will shine onto your subject at anytime of the day. Great tool for working out your painting position.

Equipment pack my bag ready with boards, loading my palette garage with paint, pochade, tripod...gather my warm clothing.

Watch You Tube of plein air painting demos of people I admire e.g. I watched Lena Rivo a Portugese artist who is amazing! I love her work and and afterwards felt inspired geed up for my day in London.
Or Watch one of my painting DVD's for example a good one pre London is Ken Howards 'Variations on a Theme' as he is painting in London and it's good!

Intention Have ideas before you set out....That day I decided that I wanted to paint Tower Bridge, a bigger size than previously and with more colour, especially in the sky.

I want to get the most out of a painting day especially when I'm making an effort with the travel and carrying kit around.
Turning up at a location can be overwhelming and you just want to paint it, but to prepare beforehand helps give direction and goals and also allows for smoother travel time and generally more prepared on all fronts!!

Before I refined it

I got the painting home and was going to post it on here and Instagram but wasn't 100% about it. I knew it needed some work but it wasn't obvious what until I started on it - 
What I did...Darkened the water in the foreground, refined the boats and buildings. Happier now!

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

#289 'Winter, West Wittering Beach' 12x16"


Very windy day but beautiful light. I got sucked into the big view and used a big canvas. I was pleased with the bones of it - composition and the sky but then I got home and it underwhelmed a little, I think the colours were too muted and so nothing to loose I scraped back with a palette knife all of it a part from the sky! It's still there but with no paint texture - see pic below.
Scraped back wet paint but subject still there
Out on location ....I painted the sky first and I was aware I was taking too long to cover the bigger area. It's too long because by the time I got to paint the beach the tide was coming in and and there wasn't much left of it! The light on the sand is my favourite bit...Comparing the tone and colour to the sky.
The canvas (Belle Arti Linen Fine weave) was different to my boards, not used to the texture and I use my hand and rag quite a bit to wipe paint and move it around or soften edges, this is harder with a canvas. 

Back at home after I'd scraped back the excess paint and left with a ghost. I repainted the green area of the sea, making it more intense and thicker paint, Blue-Green in the distance and more Yellow-Green closer to us. (The shallow water & the colour of the beach effects the sea colour.)
The colour of the foamy waves are tinged with a peachy colour (not pure white) 
The line of darker sand I mixed a colour similar to the clouds just darker in tone and keeping the edges soft. I'm pleased with the outcome :-)

Monday, 22 January 2018

#288 Mist & Snow The Devils Punch Bowl 8x10"


I didn't know we were due snow, so Sunday morning was quite exciting! I dropped everything to get out and paint at the highest point in our area - The Punch Bowl. 
I was drawn to these trees because of the shapes and the snow on them and the feeling of receding space helped by the mist.
It was snowing when I arrived but later turned to rain. I couldn't have painted without my new brolly its called a Gust Buster for golfers, its huge 62" white monster, supposedly good for wind too. I rested it on my palette as too heavy to hold but it worked a treat my palette and board didn't get wet, yay!
This is mainly a tonal painting starting with the big foreground tree which had some green in it I then adjusted the tone by adding a light violet for the middle distant trees and the far trees had Naples Yellow in too. I put the structure of the trees in first then the lighter tones of snow.
Because I was painting quick - it was cold! and I wanted the trees loose, I didn't shape the foreground tree enough and then it was too late, best to leave it and not fiddle, so its fatter than the original, but doesn't really matter, still gives a feel for it!
The really light snow I paint on thickly helps to see the texture of the paint.


Sunday, 21 January 2018

#287 'The Trundle, South Downs' 8x14"


I painted this scene previously at the beginning of the week. I wanted to go back and try it again, this time smaller and with more care. (The first was a quick sky painting.)
I also wanted to use thicker paint. I had this intention before I started plus using confident strong strokes, even though I may not have felt it!
This pic shows the beginnings. I put swatches as I mix with my palette knife to check colour and tones to start with, adjusting as I go on.

I felt like a mosaic of shapes to fit together. I didn't want to blag any area but really look and record.
The sun was just out the picture to the left and the horizon was yellow near the sun and cooler away from it. 

I've completed 5 paintings this week with so many places and subjects...London, West Wittering and snow at the Punch Bowl... I love my job!!  
Also a note: I keep my palette going and wipe off the thin mixes after each day but the piles of mixed paint I keep for the next day and may use them which saves precious time.

Friday, 19 January 2018

#286 'Winter, Hammersmith Bridge' 8x10"


Really tough conditions, biting cold wind, gusts of 38MPH, I tied my easel to the lamp post so I didn't have to hold onto it the whole time. Trying to do any detail was tricky as it buffeted your arm but I'm still happy with how its turned out, it captures the essence of the bridge - I love the silhouetted shape and the lovely green lit from the side. 
The rowers I thought they were mad to be on the Thames on a day like this, but realised they might think I was mad to be painting there too! I thought they gave a bit of life to the scene.

I painted this bridge a couple of months ago, but didn't post it, (it was a duffer!) I made the mistake of painting too close so it was huge in the picture. A good lesson to stand further back when it's a new (tricky) subject then learn the basic shape, and hone in closer another day....

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

#285 'Winter Sky, The Trundle' 12x16"


A fast painting with the emphasis on the sky. Really enjoyed moving the brush strokes around on this big board. Working bigger allowed freer mark making and arm movement - it was fun!

The chalk path was tonally light and almost glowing in the low light of the winter sun. It receding away in the distance which helps the composition. 
Tonally the painting is mainly mid to dark tones with a few accentuating lights which
also helps the overall effect.
The sun washed out the colour on the right side with stronger colour and tone on the left.
The greens are very muted - greyed down with the complimentary colour of red. I used Scarlet and Burnt Sienna for this. 

Monday, 15 January 2018

#284 'Beach Huts, West Wittering' 8x10"


I was drawn to this subject but wasn't sure if I could paint it! I enjoyed painting the huts that morning so I thought I'd try.
The reflections adding an extra element and interest - it had been a recent high tide and puddles were left.
I used my viewfinder to honed in to the colours and shapes I liked.

This is how I started blocking in the darks using a thined dark blue or brown - Ultramarine & Burnt Sienna. Remembering to repeat everything if it's reflected in the puddle.  

Beach huts are wonderful subject, but I didn't want them to look cute and twee if you know what I mean. So I painted them loosely - not too many straight lines or crisp edges.
The water reminded me a bit of snow quite light in tone and soft edges again, the shape was fun too.

It was the first day of using my brand new pochade, see below:
It's called an Alla Prima Pochade by Ben Haggett in America.
It's easy to set up, well built and nice to use but not comfortable yet, I used my previous pochade - Open Box M 150+ times, time will tell! 
I will do a blog on pochades and tripods soon....

Saturday, 13 January 2018

#283 'Morning Walk, West Wittering' 8x14"


A lovely morning a couple of days ago with strong low winter sunshine.

When I paint I try and work on it as a whole without spending too much time on one area but there is often a part in a painting that I avoid or leave longer than other areas this time it was the beach huts. I wasn't sure how I'd tackle them..... I massed in the darks - squinting my eyes to see the shapes, making it either blue or brown. Painting them loosely and without regiment - matching how they were. Then being bold with the light tones on the fronts of the huts. Also picking up the light on the top of the groynes there's not much there but it makes a difference to the feeling of light.
The sky I found tricky as the sun was so bright I couldn't see it to determine the colours! But happy with how it turned out.

The lady looked good in her long coat and helped with the composition as there was a gap there, I put her and the dog in quickly in one basic dark colour, adding light and the shadow after.

I tried out my new pochade on this painting, the light was too glary to get a good location shot of it so will post it on the next painting which was also at the Wittering's.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

#282 'Bosham Channel' 8x18"


A gorgeous morning ones of those days when everything works out and even the painting! 
I went with painting friend Sarah Manolescue, the sun was low and contra jour with great sparkling light on the water.
These are the first stages see pic below:
I put in the light on the water and the sky first, as they would change the quickest. 
The sun on the water was so bright I looked up to try and observe whats there and looking back at the board and my eyes were dazzled and couldn't see the board surface or palette of colours! So when the sun went in it was good to see how it was looking :-)

The distant horizon line of land I put in quickly and roughly not too much detail. Just suggesting shapes especially the witches hat of Bosham Church.
The channel marker posts I tried to do in one sweep down of the brush, no fussing!
I enjoyed the bigger board size and used bigger brushes especially on the sky. 
The board - wood block, (see pic below) is different to my usual ones and gave a nice finish - it really makes a difference what surface you paint on to the end result.