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.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

#317 'Spring Snow at the Devils Punch Bowl' 8x19.5"

On the first day of snow I tackled this scene in a panoramic format. I went back yesterday - the last day of snow and did it again. This time a lot bigger as I found the small board crampt for the scene, see below:

6x15" initial oil study
The light & shadows came at the end and I happily put them in, I was unsure whether it would work with the painting but it could be a shaft of light between the black clouds!

I emphasised the strong sweeping shape from the bottom left to top right, plus the snow covered path hugging the Punch Bowl in the distance. 
I'm pleased with this painting as its difficult to capture the vast space and essence of the Punch Bowl :-)

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

#316 'Tracks Through the Snow 10x12"

I went back to the same area as the previous painting the following morning - you can see the church in the distance, I'm stood further away. I loved the tracks and countryside feel.

Enjoyed the colours of the bushes on the right side and the strong fence line. I try to see colours in darks, just because they are dark in tone doesn't mean they are dull! 
It was a brighter day but still no sunlight. The sky was grey blue and I brought some of that colour down onto the snow as it reflects like water. 
I had painted in the big tree in the distance but decided it was competing with the church for a focal point so took out. I worked hard on getting the elements placed well before I began the painting which usually mean lots of drawing in and wiping it off again, important to start the composition well!

#315 ' Homefield in Snow' 8x14"

Such a wonderful find! A new painting in snow place, looked on the map before leaving and choose this area because of the farm. The church and big tree was a bonus. 
When I arrive there was an amazing stampede of cows running towards me as I entered the field next to them. They screeched to a stop because of the electric fence between us.
All lined up looking and following me as I walked around the field:

I liked the strong horizon line tone & colours, against the light snow and sky.
The sky got better as the sun went lower a lovely apricot colour.
The big tree was tricky as it was so much bigger in scale than the rest of painting but wanted to make it work and fit.

I choose this angle of the view because of the crop field with great leading lines in - how much detail to add, reminded me of a Van Gogh reed drawing all the sticking up crops. I didn't put many in as it looked bitty.
No sunshine so not much tonal difference in the foreground snow.

Photo by husband Nick Oakley, when he saw the above photo of cows he came too take pics of them!

Monday, 19 March 2018

#314 'Low Tide Crossing, Bosham' 8x14" & When to Scrap a Painting!

My husband Nick and I went down to Emsworth - Hampshire/West Sussex coast line to paint and photo for a long weekend. This was my first painting from it.

It was a struggle painting and I nearly ditched it 3/4 of the way through. I didn't think it was working and therefore I felt despondent and upset and so couldn't see the wood for the trees! I hate being beaten so I took it back to our place and Nick said it's good! Looking with fresh eyes I realised it was not a disaster!! and actually came out well in the end. 

Lesson: Don't scrap a painting immediately wait as long as you can. If I'm unsure I have them up on my shelf in my studio and after a while and if I still cant bear it I will put them in place where all the others are! I have quite a stack, wether finished or not. At a later date I go through and can see if I can learn from them and how I'd do them differently now, and I can also see the progress I have made with a current comparable painting.

I don't tent to paint over them as I don't like the surface it creates, some artists reuse their boards which can be an economical thing to do.

A thing I learnt from another artist is keep starting paintings it's the way you really learn and improve. The finishing come with time & practise but it's the starting that's the real foundation to your work. So sometimes that's what I say to myself just start this, and usually I can't help but continue!
Heres a pic of how I started this one:
The sky was beautiful so I put it in first and it also helps with the colour fo the mud and water.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

#313 'Snowdrops in Ceramic Jug' 8x8" & Viewfinders

Last of the spring flowers for now especially with the snow falling outside! 
These little snowdrops were still good after the previous day painting. I didn't want to repeat the painting so changed from glass to a jug. 
I use a viewfinder for just about all my paintings still life and plein air.
Heres a pic of it:

It helps me to see what's important in my subject, to decide on format - I have a landscape viewfinder too. I also coloured the front and back with different ground colours, see the grey one below:
The colour helps me compare with the subject to my board colour e.g How does the shadow petals of the snowdrop compare to the grey board colour?  
I also check the tones by looking through the little hole and match them to the white and black. Still looking through the hole - compare the colours to different areas of the subject.

Viewfinders are easy to make I used foam board as it's light for carrying around, they are so helpful!

I asked on social media what people thought of the two snowdrops paintings - and the glass vase first one I did came out top which one do you prefer?

Friday, 16 March 2018

#312 'Snowdrops' 8x8"

Carrying on with the spring flowers theme this week. I chose a dark background to show them up. It needed to be darker than the darkest tone of the white petals as I didn't want them disappearing too much. 
The little glass vase seamed to mimic their fragility I enjoyed painting it too.

I started as I do in landscape putting the dark shapes in:
It was nice to have the subject close up unlike the landscape which is spread out, so you can really see what's there. 
I will post my last spring flowers tomorrow.

I've heard snow is coming exciting! Although we are just off to Emsworth, Hampshire for a seaside painting/photo weekend, will have to come back if it does snow to paint it!!

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

#311 'First Spring Dafodils' 8x8"

I have spent the past 3 days painting in my studio instead of en plein air, a change mainly because it was raining in the beginning of the week and I fancied painting some spring flowers.....
I was given this posy by mother in law for Mothers day. I liked the natural 'gathered from the garden' feel. 
Placed on a shelf just under eye level, a window to the left side, with the light hitting the yellows.
Daffodils are a challenge because of the colour, to get the variety of tones in yellow and the warm and cools of the petals and trumpets. I spent time mixing a range of tones, in cool and warm and mixing a light violet - using Michael Hardings Kings Blue dark, as a complimentary to mute and darken the yellow.
Here is my palette before I began painting...
I think painting from life in the studio is a great help to painting outside as they are both observational but a still life allows more time to mix colours get tones right and the subject not to be constantly changing or be overwhelmed by a big landscape - you choose the size of your still life. 
I thought painting a mass of flowers would be harder than painting just one flower, but actually it isn't, painting a bunch you don't have to paint everything that's there just suggesting overall shapes and colours. So have a go it's fun! :-)

Friday, 9 March 2018

#310 'Winter Covers, Bosham Quay' 10x12"

Yesterday was blowing a gale in Bosham Harbour but it was a bright wintery day and of course the best spot to paint was at the windiest point!
I like the bright blue covers of the yachts and the old barn style building - the sailing club. 
A challenge to make the painting work as a whole. So I linked the sky colour to the water and the masts of the boats through the dark of the building. The clouds I made stronge shapes, the blue of the sky was bright and clear. 
The barn was super dark almost black in the shadow part and the light side was tricky to get it dark but showing the light as well. 
The boats were fun to paint emphasising the covers - as it's the bit I liked. The fronts of the boats were in the light and the brightest part of the painting, almost Titanium White with a little yellow added.
The wooden struts of the harbour wall I didn't want to overpaint as they can look stiff, I put them in sweeping strokes and making sure I added the light after to give a sense of sunshine. Leaving some fo the ground showing through to make the painting link together in another way. 
Pleased with how this one turned out when I wasn't sure it would work.
First stages...

Thursday, 8 March 2018

#309 'Meon Valley' 9x10"

First visit to paint in the Meon Valley with the Isle of Wight in the distance, a lovely area and will do lots more here.

Surprisingly cold with still some snow on the ground, I was drawn to the rounded shapes of the hills overlapping and skeleton tree shapes of winter. 

Making the tones and intensities of the greens work and keeping the dark trees in the foreground strong. The middle distance I wanted to paint bluer than it was, kept adjusting the colour to a warmer light mix. A little bit of light on the water in the distance. I thinned out the foreground trees as they were too dense and stopping the eye from moving up through the painting. Just off square format to emphasis the rounded hills. 
Pleased with this one, as landscapes are not easy!

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

#308 'Sunset over The South Downs' 10x12"

A painting I'd started just as the snowy weather arrived. It was so bitter exposed on the top of the South Downs, but a stunning sunset. I had been painting another but stopped and started this one, which turned out better as the colours are stronger and I honed in to the bit of the hill and sky I liked previous one I tired to put too much of the view in it!

This is where I got to outside (see pic below), the sun quickly disappeared below the horizon which of course changed it so I stopped.
Completed yesterday in my studio.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

#307 'Hammer Vale in Winter' 8x10"

I started this when it was a blizzard, the ice crystals landing on my board and palette congealing into little snow balls! I struggled on but the conditions weren't conducive to say the least! 
I went back the next morning and decided to start afresh, new painting same view. So much easier when the weather is a little less extreme. See pic below.
Ice Crystals!!
I have ended up with two paintings of the same view, the first which I have made my main top one. I scraped off what I did when it was snowing and did a fresh layer of paint over the top in the studio and it ended up better I think than the one below. Which surprised me.

Second attempt painting
So I actually painted this view 3 times - first day in the snow second day not snowing but maybe too careful and the third day in my studio back on the first painting! if you can follow all that :-)

The learning is paint a subject more than once, it really helps to know it, familiarise, relax with it and also not worry about the end result. I thought it wouldn't turn out so I went for it nothing to loose and it worked!

Things I did differently: pushed the tones to lighter, made the colours yellower and bluer - prettier, freer with the brush strokes, emphasised the foreground tree branches...changed the widths of bands of colour.

A couple of people people kindly took photos of me over those couple of days. 
Couldn't have painted without the brolly while it was snowing.

Monday, 5 March 2018

#306 'Snow falling on Bramshott Common' 10x10"

I started this by at 8am because I knew the heavy snowfall was due. I have painted this scene before back in 2016 when there was a light dusting and the path still visible. 

The shape of the foreground tree I emphasised with light and dark contrasts, as I liked the shape. Also the path making an 'S' shape into the picture. The line of trees at the back I simplified but I may still re work them. 
Not many colours, quite a tonal painting. The snow I applied the paint thick & juicy especially as it wasn't sticking very well to the board due to the cold atmosphere and snowy conditions. It started to really snow by the end of the panting so I decided to include a few flutters of flakes.
This is half was through...

Saturday, 3 March 2018

#305 'Gateway to Bramshott Common' 10x10"

It's been a while since I posted, returning from Devon I painted 3 or 4 that I either haven't finished or don't like! And now the past couple of days I've done 3 snow paintings here's the first.....

Painted this morning I've been waiting eagerly the snow!! and it's here!
Although this morning was just a dusting but enough to make a painting. I was really pleased to stumble across this view, such a great composition with lots of elements - close foreground interest and distant space.

Walking finding a spot I had in my mind how I wanted to paint - bold brush marks & strong composition. Snow seems to lend itself to this combos, and it helps my confidence to attack it and not be timid with applying paint! Mind plays a big part in the painting process.

I have painted gates before and they can look laboured so I deliberately didn't do much to it, focused more on what was through and behind them. 
The sky is a slightly darker than the snow, the colours in the snow pick up the sky colours.
I painted a web of branches, tree trunk and gate before I added anything else see pic below.

It helps structure the painting with the important parts and then paint around them - easier than painting on top and sits better in the painting.

The M.O.D yellow sign I left till the end unsure as to whether to include it. I did and it actually adds to the painting - I hope you agree!

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.
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, 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...