Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Evening light, Plage sauvetage

                                                          Evening light, Plage sauvetage

There's a suitable painting to end our summer séjour here on Bréhat. The evening sun sparkling on the sea was exciting enough to paint, and the man coming on to the beach with his dinghy was just a gift!
The island that you can see in front of you is Ile Raguenez and beyond that you can see the mainland. The Ile de Bréhat is surrounded by tiny islands, most like this one are uninhabited, except for birds and wildlife of course!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


                                                       Oscar, oil on canvas 12" x 10"

I was painting Oscar this morning and painting the windows of the house this afternoon!
Oscar was tired but happy after an overnight camping/ kayaking adventure with his Dad.
A week tomorrow he will begin secondary school, another adventure!

Monday, August 27, 2012

More sketches!

Some more sketches to show you today- Oscar sleeping, sketches on the beach and Milly being told 'just stay like that for ten minutes please!'.

I'm excited today because I've ordered some new plein air painting kit. I know you think I have it all already and it's true I have quite a range but in the end I knew I'd have to turn to America for the best in lightweight and portable. There are times when I need to be able to fit everything in a rucksack and carry it on my back. I've ordered the 11" x 14" palette/ panel holder which holds panels any height and from 5" to 20" in width. That's the kind of flexibility I was after. (My little Rover pochade is easy to carry but I'm restricted to 6" x 8" panels)

I considered the 'optional wine cup holder' but wasn't altogether sure it would hold my coffee cup so....

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Beach study

Beach study 10" x 12"

You know when you're enjoying sunny warm weather and you always feel as though it's going to go on for ever... well that's how I was a few days ago and then we had two days of strong wind punctuated by rain showers. Oh no! I thought. Why didn't I paint more often on the beach?!
So today when things looked altogether far jollier weather wise I got down to the beach with my paints and this time I didn't go incognito, full easel and umbrella set up.
It was almost full tide when I started, which is why you can see just a strip of sand and then the stones.
I started in a thinned down transparent oxide red to try to block in the main tonal masses and try not to get carried away by the figures and give them more attention than they were due, if you see what I mean. They need to be dealt with the same way as anything else in the landscape. Next I tried to establish the lightest areas, principally the sky, and the colour of the sea.
It was an interesting study, but nothing terribly exciting, so I decided to give it to the young girl who'd been sat patiently watching me the whole time. I'm sure it will remind her of happy holidays with her family for many years to come :-)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sketches of Bréhat

It's been a funny few days. I found out the news that none of my four that were pre-selected for the Royal Society of Marine Artists have made it into the exhibition. That was a disappointment, but it only makes me more determined to do better work and keep focussing on my goals. I'll get there one day!
Besides, I have lots of other exciting things in the pipeline!
Other happier news- it seems everyone has loved my painting of 'Evening bathers', thanks so much to everyone who's told me so!
I had a surprise message from a French mother (unknown to me) who told me her little girl was disappointed not to see me during their annual holiday to Bréhat this year- I had no idea! It seems I am something of a tourist attraction!
I also found that I'm mentioned in a review about the Ireland plein air festival on the USA's Plein Air magazine's (which is an amazing magazine by the way) website. Try this link (fingers crossed!)

If you get there, make sure you watch the video too, although what I'm talking about I'm not quite sure...

I thought I'd show you a few sketches I've been doing this week. I'm also halfway through a large painting of Milly, which I'll show you soon :-)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Evening bathers, Bréhat

This is the second painting I started on the beach yesterday, but it's taken me almost the whole day to finish and I only had my memory to go on!
I'm quite pleased with how it turned out because I think in the end I managed to capture something of that evening mood and light. My visual memory isn't too good, so I really struggle when I don't have the subject in front of me.
Another reason I'm pleased is that I've wanted to introduce more softness in some areas of my paintings lately, rather than always use very direct brush marks. This idea of using more softness in the distance has been travelling around in my brain since my time in Ireland. I was seeing a lot of mist there!
This painting is all about evenings on the beach, when most of the sunbathers have left, and local people who have been working in the daytime gather for a couple of hours before dinner. It's the time for us to see familiar faces (and even dogs) there!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Incoming tide and bathers, Bréhat

> Sneaky me! I wanted to paint at the beach but didn't want to attract lots of attention so I decided to leave the easel at home and paint sitting down on a beach towel, thus blending in very well and appearing almost normal!
> It worked so well!
> It was low tide when I began, but eventually after finishing this one and halfway through my second I had to literally grab everything and run as the tide had reached my towel by then and almost flooded my palette.
> Time flies when you're having fun!


Friday, August 17, 2012

Back on Bréhat!

We're back on the beautiful Ile de Bréhat, and as you can see it's agapanthus season!
I was very lucky to be able to paint here today. Our friends own this land and grow lots of different varieties of agapanthus.
There are hundreds, thousands of tourists enjoying the gorgeous weather and scenery of Bréhat at the moment. I was rather glad to be on private land, because the nearest people could stand and watch was around five metres away, and I could happily pretend they weren't there most of the time! In my own personal corner of paradise!
I had quite a task trying to simplify the subject. There's a detail photo below. I had to really concentrate on the large value masses - what's light? What's dark? How does it all fit together?
Far more important than trying to get individual petals and leaves down accurately!
On the left at the back you can just see the 'moulin du nord', which is now a rather nifty holiday home, unlike the 'moulin du sud' near our house, which is an abandoned ruin.
I'm sorry the photo isn't very clear, I'll change it at some point when back in the UK. Blogging from my phone here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Enniscorthy - unfinished
Here's another painting from Ireland last week, the pretty town of Enniscorthy. I spent about two and a half hours on this on Thursday late afternoon/ early evening, and then went back at the same time on Saturday for another two hours. Yet it's still not finished! Perhaps I will finish it one day, I did manage to take some photos at the time. Or I could always take it back there next year...
I'm back home now for two crazy days of packing and getting the four paintings for the Royal Society of Marine Artists framed and ready to send. Then we'll have a long day travelling to Bréhat so please don't expect to hear from me for a little while! I might need a rest by the time we get there! :-)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Wexford Quick Draw

Easels at the ready... On your marks, get set....
Yesterday was the Quick Draw in Wexford. We gathered all along one street and we had two hours to complete a painting of the scene. A klaxon was sounded to let us know when to start and when to stop. To add to the excitement we had live music being played and of course lots of interest from the public. Great atmosphere.
I chose to paint the whole street with it's colourful buildings and church spire in the background. Quite a lot to sort out in two hours!
At the end of the time all the easels were lined up together in the street for an exhibition and local businesses had donated prizes.
As you can see I was the subject of several paintings myself!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Hook head, big surprise!

Hook Head, oil on canvas 12" x 16"

Incoming tide at Hook Head, oils on canvas 12" x 16"

I must admit, I had my doubts. This morning was the worst rain yet. I could hear it beating down outside as soon as I woke up, you know, the kind of rain that slaps the pavement!
We were heading out to the tip of a peninsula, to a lighthouse of all places, the most exposed painting location of the week.
We had a plan, me and Lori my new friend. Turn up, get canvasses stamped, turn heel and drive inland. Somewhere with shelter.
But what was this? As we drove towards Hook Head, spots and patches of blue started to appear in the clouds.
We arrived in glorious sunshine! We painted in sunshine all day, and it was my best painting day of the week, without doubt!
Now I'm off to the Festival BBQ! It's pouring with rain again now, but that doesn't matter at all!

Enniscorthy and moonlit madness

We were in Enniscorthy today for our paint-out, a really pretty town. This morning I was in Michael Richardson's workshop by the side of the river here. It was about putting space and depth in a painting. Again I tried to stick to large masses. You're right, if you're thinking that is sunlight you can see! How lucky!! What a nice change!
I also tried to use the most saturated hues, the warmest colours, and the most tonal (value) contrast in the foreground. I am rather pleased with it, although it was a very simple scene there was a lot of thought behind it!
After a lovely lunch at the Riverside Park hotel I went towards the town and painted a completely different, complicated subject. I'll have to show you that another day as I forgot to take photos and I didn't leave there until about 7.30, to drive quickly to Wexford where some of the festival artists were going to take part in a sunset/ moonlit paint out.
I'm not sure what made me summon up the energy (you may call it foolhardiness) to get parked up and drag my kit out again. I started with a sort of pale dusky lilac sky which got darker and darker (as is usually the way between 8 & 10pm) as I desperately tried to keep up until I could no longer see the canvas. Which was a blessing, actually. :-)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Huntington Castle, Clonegal

Here's another weather review- RAIN! Actually that's unfair, today we've gone from driving horizontal rain to 'soft' rain to 'large drops falling from the trees' rain to wind and rain and then finally- about 4pm it stopped raining.
This morning I was in the marvellous Lori Putnam workshop, outside under the trees throughout the wind and rain, rain and wind and... occasional showers. We watched a gorgeous demo and then the hill Lori was painting in the distance completely disappeared in a white haze, my Mabel seized up because of the damp and refused to open and I got earache. Hmm. Nothing some coffee and cake couldn't sort out, and the lovely chap from the very lovely Huntington Castle saw to Mabel for me.
I managed the little sketch below, focussing on the large masses and keeping everything more or less within two values. It's a great exercise and I intend to practise more with it.
After lunch warming up in the tearoom I went in search of a subject location and really struck gold when I found... the greenhouse! Ideal, through wind and rain!
That's the Russian painter Natalia Dik you can see painting at the other end of the greenhouse. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. I tried to stick to the two main tonal masses, but with the most contrast in value and hue being Natalia, the focal point. I also really like the abstract and unfinished aspects of certain areas, and the paint dribbles! I didn't want to get sucked in to painting the flowers in increasing detail or spelling everything out too much so I kept reminding myself of my favourite quote 'Say what you need to say in the painting then get out. There is no use chattering on after you have made your point'.
When I had made my point I stopped.
I then did a couple of hours painting in the tearoom (yes actually I did have more coffee. And cake. Oops), but the painting still wasn't resolved and I was getting fatigued and it was time to go.
By the way when I get back from the trip I will change these photos for better ones and add links to the people and places I have mentioned.
Gosh I didn't even tell you about the gorgeous dog of the house, Myrtle. Or the two pigs. It will have to be another day... I'm getting blogging fatigue now!
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