Friday, 25 May 2018

#335 'The South Downs' 30x50cm

I went back to the same area as last weeks painting. I wanted to do it again and really study the tonal values and colours. I am pleased with how it turned out.

I will be using this painting for an article I am writing to go into The Artist Magazine. The title of the piece is 'Colour & Aerial Perspective', it will be in the January 2019 edition. I have subscribed to the Artist Magazine on and off since way back in the 80's & 90's so I I am very pleased to fulfil a wish of writing and being in the Magazine :-) 

Back to the subject:
I really like this area to paint, The Trundle, South Downs and have done quite a few now so I want to push myself and try a bigger painting. I brought a 120cmx50cm canvas, it arrived and its huge!! I was tempted to go outside and try it, but I am not set up for such a big support on my easel. So I will prepare as much as I can with drawings and plein air studies and have ago in the studio and let you know how it works out!

I was standing right next to a bush covered in white flowers, there were bugs galore - spot the bee flying past in the photo!

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

#334 'Pink Peonies' 10x12"

I have wanted to paint peonies for a while, last year they felt too scary to tackle! So I decided to go for it! I painted outside in natural light, there was no sunshine but it didn't matter. I placed a purple piece of paper under the flowers and decided the green grass was too contrasted in colour so made up the background - which was quite liberating! 
This is the painting blocked in, next to the steps of my studio
I worked on loose, lively brush strokes and keeping the colours fresh, clean and bold! How did I do this? Different brushes for each colour, organised palette - premix colours before painting. Background flat area - brush strokes in different directions and lengths, not smoothing or hiding the marks. I used 'Permanent Rose' for the pinks, mainly with Ultramarine and a little Michael Harding 'Kings Blue deep'.

Monday, 21 May 2018

#333 'Morning Meadow' 8x10"

We looked out the window and saw gorgeous morning light so dashed down to the end of the garden. My husband hopped over into the field and being a photographer lapped it up. But the camera wasn't enough for me so I grabbed my plein air gear out of the studio and started painting in my pink wellies and PJ's! Yes, a sight but I didn't want to waste any time getting changed.

I tried the option of not pre-staining the board with my usual Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine warm grey colour but using a Burnt Sienna underpainting instead as my base. It's surprising how different it feels and lot lighter in tone, so I will try more of these.

I also was focusing on limited brush strokes. What you put down counts. So its a quick and immediate response to light.
Burnt Sienna Underpainting
Our garden backing onto the field

Sunday, 20 May 2018

#332 'Trundle Path' 8x10"

Second painting of the day on the 1:1 plein air day last week. As you can see it was overcast but still pleasing to paint - the greens, shapes and path... It was a quick study getting the essence fo the place.
I'm using more earth colours - Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre as my underpainting base which especially works with the complimentary greens over the top.

Our pochades & paintings
It's quite sketchy my painting so I may tart it a little, I will see if I can live with it first!

Saturday, 19 May 2018

#331 'Early Summer, The South Downs' 9x19"

I held a 1:1 plein air painting day with an artist called Rosie Copeland. Typical it was a windy grey day but actually was easier as it was stable light, so we weren't chasing shadows or squinting into the sun.

We covered a lot of ground from boards, gesso, equipment, my painting colours, colour mixing...viewfinder. Rosie really liked my viewfinder as I'd made a small hole so you can isolate colours and compare them to others in your scene. 

We painted next to each other and she did a cracker painting, mine not so good! - See below:
I got the painting home and wiped it back (below pic) straight away so it didn't dry. The colour was left but no form, I repainted it the next day while it was fresh in my mind, helped I'd already done the same scene last August.
There is too much foreground so I shifted it all down and increased the scale up a bit and reinstated the shapes over the top....

Friday, 11 May 2018

#330 'Sunrise, Bosham Hoe' 30x40cm

A quick sunrise painting of Bosham on a largish canvas. Getting the essence of the scene, brush marks still visible, did this in a hour. It was a beautiful morning, so still and glass like refections.
Tricky to paint as there was an ethereal quality to it, sort of thing I'd like to have another go at straight away!

Here are the beginnings, just blocking in shapes for the buildings, and then picking out lights and darks and roof line.
Painting the sky at the same time as the water, to get the mirror reflection effect.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

#329 'May Day, Richmond Bridge' 8x19"

The sun was shining and the masses were out! Absolutely heaving for bodies - I painted the people before it got to busy.
It's a bigger scene than I'd usually tackle so I'm pleased it worked out, 

I was about 15 minutes through when people started gathering near me, I realised they were in a queue for a boat ride, the line snaked right next to me, I couldn't even step back to see my painting! Quite unnerving having people watch the process from so close up! See pic below...

To start I put the bridge in roughly making sure I got the shapes of the arches right and then I put the greens next to it, I used a scrubby hog hair brush which lends itself to foliage. 
Water was bold brush strokes using a filbert hog hair and quite loaded with paint, getting similar blues to the sky but darker tone and dirtier colour.
The people I squinted my eyes and looked at the tonal shapes of them first and then added colour and any light on the top.
This pic shows my palette and how busy it got ...

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

#328 'Bosham Quay' 9x12"

I haven't painted in while because my lovely Mum in Law died last week, it wasn't expected and very sad.

I am now back to work and this weather has been glorious for plein air allbeit a little hot!
I timed it just right for this contra jour - sparkle on water - tonal painting.

The tide went lower and the reflections on the posts disappeared before I could put them in. Luckily I was there long enough for the tide to come back up and I could paint them!

Also the light moved really quickly off the water and wet mud, it was very light in tone just warmed a little with Naples Yellow.

Because the yacht is silhouetted in the strong morning sun it is quite dark in tone even though it's a white hulled boat! 

The people in the boat moved around a lot but stayed sitting for enough time to capture them. I didn't want them too pronounced so they come out of the shadows.
The jaunty lean to the boat helps with the composition.

A local chap asked to see my painting when it was 3/4 finished, he said he really liked it and ended up buying it almost off the easel - I wanted to finish it first and let it dry a little :-) 
A great start back to painting...

Thursday, 26 April 2018

#327 'Slipper Mill Pond' 8x10"

I drove past this scene and thought it looked good but still went to 3 other places first thinking I could find better! I had seen this subject in the winter and thought it had promise, but its even better now with the spring foliage. 

Getting a good composition meant I was standing on the side of the road right next to the water. The swans kept looking up at me thinking of was going to feed them especially when I was bending down to pick up a paint brush - not bread!

I like the little house in the distance gives it scale and looking through the negative space between the foreground tree and house.
Tricky weather, April showers - heavy ones, had me rushing for cover, wish I had brought my brolly. 
Will return to do a bigger painting here....

Sunday, 22 April 2018

#326 'Footbridge to Eel Pie Island' 9x12"

An early start up to Twickenham on Friday morning. I wanting to make the most of this glorious weather, although standing in full sun was quite hard work! 

I painted at Twickenham last July with the Wapping Group it was my first time with them as I was nervous I chose a simple subject:
In comparison this painting is quite complex! You can spot the foot bridge in both. 

I have been painting for 2 years en plein air now and I do feel more confident and so able to choose 'harder' more complex subjects. Also being able to complete it on site in a time that works for the changing light. This one took 2 hours. 

I was on a busy through fare with so many distractions its hard to keep focused for example there were very noisy geese fighting over bread tit bits & delivery drivers reversing inches away from me - I must have been painting on the spot! 
Also when you are out there you are game for the publics point of view. Usually people are so kind, friendly and considerate but occasionally you get a plonker who thinks they know better and has to give their opinion, I had one that day and it did rattle me a little. 
The light had moved around, so the bridge wasn't lit by the end of the painting.
I loved the light on the water, the sweepy blue bridge and boats in the shadows. A restful scene that I will revisit.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

#325 'Daffodils & Narcissi' 8x14"

On Thursday this week I was part of a demo evening with Haslemere Art Society. There were 3 artists including me showing how we work, our process from start to finish.

I decided to paint something from life as I find it more inspiring than a photo. I was a bit worried the daffodils would be over but my husband had thankfully planted 500 bulbs so there was a range in our garden to choose from. (I had also spotted a lovely orange centred narcissi in the neighbours garden, I hope he didn't miss the one I nabbed - all in the name of art of course!)

Before everyone turned up I played around with the background colour, I wanted blue as it looked like the sky, I opted for this deeper blue so it made the light flowers stand out. I also lit the flowers from the side as the same height. 

I was quite nervous before it began unsure as to whether I could 'perform' in front of a crowd. I also wanted to be able to talk while I was painting, which I managed to do and even did a bit of teaching too! People were really kind and interested, I enjoyed it and was relieved my painting came out nicely. To have had a flop in front of others would have been tough!
I premixed the main colours as I do in plein air and built up the painting with a series of patchwork brush strokes, not spending too long in one area. 

One of my previous students Dawn kindly took some pics of me here are a couple:

Thursday, 19 April 2018

#324 'Spring at Richmond Bridge' 9x12"

I have been visiting my sister in South Africa a hard decision not to take my paints but lovely to have family time and a break. So I'm fresh and ready to go and what a day to start back...

Painted this yesterday in glorious spring weather.  So warm it felt like summer, I'd forgotten what it's like painting in the heat! Not complaining though.

Quite a complex subject so kept it loose without succumbing to too much detail. Its a great area to paint, so much fodder! 
The bridge was tricky as it was medium light tone but it was contra jour so it was silhouetted and darker than you think. I kept telling myself paint what you see not what you think it looks like!
I was painting with artist buddy Sarah Manolescue she did the same scene but so different, - portrait format ...always fun to see how others interpret the same subject.
It was buzzing around the Thames, with buskers and boaters and people in enjoying the weather, so lovely to have a job outside when it's like this :-)

Spot my easel and Sarah painting near the busker! Plus it felt like we had an audience - so busy!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

New English Art Club 2018

'Silver Birch in Snow'  8x10"
I have just found out that this painting has been selected for the New English Art Club annual exhibition. I am so pleased as it's a really competitive show to get into and this is the first time I have done it!! 

The exhibition runs: 15-23rd June at The Mall Galleries, London

Some stats: 1500 paintings were entered online & 104 have got in, that's less than 10% 
I had 4 selected which got through the first round:
It's hard to know why the 'Silver Birch in Snow' painting got through and the others didn't get chosen. 
I also went to the best framers I could, they are called 'The Artistic Framing Co' in Hampshire UK. Hand painted frames with silver or gold gilding, not cheap but decided I wanted to give the paintings my best chance!

I have just looked back at the timings of this painting back in mid December. It was one where I walked around a lot trying to find that 'perfect view' but came back to the first view I'd seen! Therefore had very little time before the sun went behind the tree line. The painting only took me 40 minutes!! Funny how your perceptions of making a 'great painting' takes time but especially in plein air sometimes it's quite the opposite.

Friday, 6 April 2018

#323 'Sunrise over Albert Bridge' 11x14"

I saw this scene last week on the Thames, it was quite magical!  But I couldn't paint in plein air as the sun was too bright off the water - I couldn't see the subject!
I did start a painting see below but when I went to work on it in the studio realised I was trying to get too big a picture in so I honed into the bit I really liked, not worrying that I cut off some of the bridge, just making sure the composition worked. 

Also using  a bigger board size than normal, which I enjoyed and worked well for the subject. I used larger brushes for as long as I could mapping in the darks. I graduated the tones from very dark of the boats, making it light as I went to the bridge, trees, background buildings... this gives a sense of space. Also as I lightened mixing the orange sky colour with the dark colour gives a feeling of light saturation - see the tall tower next to the dark bridge strutts.
The 'wires' on the bridge I put a main thicker one in first before the sky and other others after. Being bold with the strokes but a light touch as well - I use a Rosemary & Co Rigger. Where the sun was shining you couldn't see the wires so I didn't paint them in.
The boats needed surprisingly little painting, I put the main shapes to start in a thinned dark and then picked up the light on the top using a mid grey and nearer the sun a warm colour.
I'm really pleased with how this one has turned out.

Monday, 2 April 2018

#322 'Mixed Daffs' 8x8"

I wanted another bash at these flowers with a lighter background and in a glass vase. I choose this green as I thought it looked a bit like grass colour! 

Wishing you all a Happy Easter and heres to more spring like weather :-)

Saturday, 31 March 2018

#321 'Early Morning, Chelsea Bridge' 8x10" & The Artist Mind

An artist mind and attitude has so much to do with painting as their body! It can really get in the way sometimes. 
On Thursday I went to London I had prepped a lot the night before to make me feel ready and have some sort of plan. The last time I went to London I didn't prep and my painting was dreadful! So that was in the back of my mind I wanted it to be a positive experience

It was absolutely stunning when I arrived at Albert Bridge the sun was just coming up over the Thames River and the light on the water was gorgeous. I was too late to paint it but had to suffice with photos and drinking it up.
I set up contra jour it worked because there was a haze of cloud not too bright in my eyes. Just as I started to apply the paint the sun broke through and dazzled me! So bright off the water I couldn't see the subject (see pic below) so I abandoned this painting - I will have a go at in the studio.

I walked to the other side of the bridge with the sun behind me.A complex view that I couldn't get my head around  (see pic below). My board didn't fit the subject very well so the composition wasn't working and the board was too slippery, these two factors alone through me I wiped off twice and started again. Meanwhile my mind is doubting and panicking ....'I wont have a painting to show for all this effort or I've lost it I can't paint any more!! Quite ridiculous but thats what happens on a hard day.

I turned around and saw the Chelsea Bridge view and thought that's a better subject. It fitted a smaller board and I painted it in less than an hour. My mind was now quiet and happy! Such a rollercoaster. Painting plein air you never know if it will turn out. I think everybody who paints struggles with self doubt and fear of 'failing' It seams however many paintings I get under my belt it still happens, I hope I can work on this!
'The Artist Way' by Julia Cameron is a great book I've had for for years and does focus on the mind and creativity.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

#320 'Spring Daffs' 8x8"

Quite fun to choose the colour combinations when you do a still life. I have lots of coloured paper that I try behind my subject to see what works. This dark blue-green paper made the daffodils really pop and also I liked it that it was close in tone and colour to the ceramic vase.
I tried a different method of painting the flowers which was to map out the yellow petals in one tone and get the shapes right. Trying to simplify and not use to many marks to describe the flowers.
The vase has lots of subtle nuances the reflected yellow from the overhanging daff and light bouncing up from the wood sill its sitting on.
The background some areas I left crisp others I softened, which adds variety and interest.
I hope to do this still life again with a lighter background to see the difference.
Here are the main stages...

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

#319 'Early Morning on Bramshott Common' 10x12"

I decided this was going to be a more tonal painting less colour more about tonal shapes and brush marks. Leaving some of the board colour showing gives a sense of unity. The foreground trees are on the golden line - where it's the most pleasing to the eye - about a third in.
Location pic showing the layers of tonal colours. I painted this scene first in the snow and will paint it again when the spring greens come :-)

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Plein Air Workshop May 2018

Just two places left on this workshop I will be running May 19th in Hampshire. It will be structured teaching and include a handout, short demo, lots of one to one help and plenty of painting! Contact me if you are interested. Clare

Friday, 23 March 2018

#318 'Snow Shadows' 9x10"

On the last day of snow the sun came out, I wanted to find shadows and light to paint. I loved these colours. The sun was behind me and close to the tree line, I didn't know how long I had to paint the bit I liked! Usually I would have started on the structure first - the trees. But this time I quickly put the bluey shadows in the and the different colours of snow, it was peachy and warm because of the low sun. See pic below.
One important factor to the composition was the light through the trees contrasting the dark foreground trees and shadows. The distance needed to be bright and light and not very defined. The path is also good for leading the eye through.
Thickness of paint can give emphasis to an area, so the snow is important and also light in tone so it gets a thick application. The foreground trees are darker and thinner in paint as I don't want the eye to linger on this area as long. I did repaint the tree area as it was too thick and it made the area to strong, scraped off redid and much better! I'm not worried to do this in a painting as it can add a depth to it. The blue shadows were applied and left alone no retouching or fussing.
I am happy with this one especially the application of paint.