Friday, February 28, 2014

End of a perfect day, Sennen beach

End of a perfect day, Sennen beach

Here's my latest Cornwall painting which I'll be taking down next week to the Harbour Gallery.  Fingers crossed for some good painting weather from Monday onwards! I'm really pleased with this as it's hard to keep the freshness with a studio painting. Also it's a perfect reminder of longer, warmer days to come.
Here are some photos taken as I went along...

Early stage,  love the abstract patterns made by the receding tide and rocks on the beach
Right back at this early stage just about everything was already said. I just needed to add the warmth from the setting sun.

At this stage I stopped to think about where to place figures
And then it was a case of adding figures, to give the painting human interest and a sense of scale. I looked back at reference photos and had a think about where best to place them.

With figures to give a sense of scale and story

This could be on your mantlepiece soon!
Just over 16" x 20" framed
This painting is available now for £595 from Mark at the Harbour Gallery. Give him a call if you'd like to snap it up on 01872 580807  :-)

I'm still here...

I'm just dropping by to say hello quickly... hope you didn't miss me too much ;-)
I've had a ten day holiday and been to France with the family while celebrating three birthdays! Back in the studio this week which has been lovely. Lots of busy goings on as you can see in the picture, including a new painting of Sennen beach which I will show you shortly.
I'm packing up to head to Cornwall again on Sunday where I will no doubt get some new work to tell you all about :-)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Boat sheds at Brancaster

Boat sheds at Brancaster
16" x 20"

I think the addition of a couple of figures in the background not only lends a sense of scale to the proceedings but also a sort of 'story' which I seem to consider more when studio painting, rightly or wrongly.
With additional work on the trees and grasses I was pleased to decide the painting was finished. (Rather feels like a boat launch but without the bottle of champagne being broken against it!)

Although I've spent lots of time and thought and paint layers on this one I'm hopeful that it still looks fresh and not laboured, and glad I've managed a decent variety of marks too with some areas of the paint being left thin and bare and others more impasto.  The photo above is just an iPad shot as it's a little too dark for trying a decent photo but it gives you the idea, and here are a few 'closer-ups'.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

More work on boat sheds

Work in progress
I continued with various thin coloured glazes such as greens on the grasses and trees and blues on the boat and sheds. Each time the painting would be left alone for a few days afterwards to let the glaze dry. Again this is a luxury of studio painting. The whole course of a painting is making a series of changes, and if you have time on your side then one of the options open to you is using a glaze to subtly alter the colour tint of an area. 
I then mixed up thicker, more opaque paint for the bright light greens of the sunlit areas of grass.
I also mixed up an opaque lavender grey for the shed doors. Later I decided this was too light in value and so (when really dry) a glaze was applied to darken it down at which point it 'sat' better in it's surroundings.

The painting was left like this for all of January as I was fully occupied with my Nottingham exhibition. So near and yet still so far!

A return visit to Brancaster Staithe last week gave me the chance to look again at the subject and gain some fresh ideas, and also the impetus needed to press ahead and get it completed.

The plein air study perches on top of the easel

The first change I made was to alter the whole sky area to a sort of light valued warm grey, but I left areas of peachiness breaking through. 

I had also seen the light coming down through the gap in between the sheds this time and thought that would definitely be beneficial to add. Also the roof on the left had sustained further damage and I happily let more sky show through with the new gaps. I had a firmer idea about the shape of the trees in the background too.

Tomorrow I'll show you the end result of all these layers and adjustments...

Monday, February 10, 2014

A little interview

This week's Grantham Journal

The local newspaper, the Grantham Journal, printed an interview with me this week, which was very kind of them. You can read the whole interview on their webpage at

I also have these two paintings in a mixed exhibition on the theme of seascapes at the Ashdown Gallery, Forest Row, Sussex. The exhibition opened today and will remain open until the 3rd March. This is my first time showing work with this gallery and there is a great variety of gorgeous paintings in this lively exhibition. The gallery is happy to ship paintings to anywhere and you can get more information by clicking here.

Agapanthus flowers at the beach £395
Measures 16" x 18" framed

Low tide at Port Clos £750
Measures 20" x 24" framed

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Whelk sheds, Brancaster Staithe

Whelk sheds, Brancaster Staithe

Yesterday was just what I needed after a couple of frustrating days in the studio. I drove over to Brancaster Staithe and met with my hardy fellow painters who hail from Lincolnshire, Rutland and East Anglia. We have formed a group and try to meet to paint here once a month, and there can be anything up to about 20 artists present which is not bad considering it's been all the 'worst' months so far throughout winter. If you are in this area and are thinking you would like to come along just drop me a line. You can either reply to this email (if you receive my blog posts by email) or head to my website and contact me from there

Anyway, as I was saying I was starting to go a bit crazy after two days working in the studio on my own and things not going that well... you know?! 
So getting outside to paint in the bracing fresh air and then enjoying a rollicking good lunch at the Jolly Sailors with my jolly painter friends was just the tonic! (and would you believe it today the studio work went well - yay!)

Near the start of painting

So it was a mostly overcast day with occasional sunshine and high tide when we arrived. I love the mud and rivulets of water there when it's low tide, such as in this painting which was sold in my exhibition last month -

Wet mud and reflections at Brancaster Staithe

But yesterday was high tide and the water surface was rippling due to the wind so although I love the boats I didn't find the reflections particularly inspiring. I love the view I did find of the sheds, as there was great structure and shape and colour and the subject wasn't overly reliant on the light.
I was very grateful to the fisherman for letting me stand outside his shed. He was telling me how flooded they were in the storms in December, and about all the debris washed up outside including a caravan!
Mind you, I think he was getting fed up of me in the end when he started to hose his car down right behind me and I had to pack away in the middle of the swirling water!

I've STILL got my exhibition online on my website with prices, but only for a couple more days so if you haven't had a chance to look yet please go there now before it's too late!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Smooth, creamy and delicious

The Artist March 2014

Smooth, creamy and delicious but not chocolate, whatever could it be? Oh yes, it's my thoughts on painting with gouache paints, gathered together in this month's The Artist magazine which is available to buy in shops in the UK now. Apparently you can also find it in the USA in Barnes book stores, that's groovy!

There are so many reasons to love gouache and here's a few -

No using solvents or mediums, just good old water.
You can re-use dried up paint on the palette, by wetting it again.
You can add highlights later, no need to plan ahead in the same way you have to with watercolours.
You can easily combine with other media, for example watercolours and drawing media.
They dry with that soft matt finish.
They make ideal, forgiving, paints for beginners.
You don't need much in the way of equipment.
They don't kill your brushes.*

Here's another gouache painting exploiting the gouache at a fluid creamy consistency and laying down adjacent areas of flat colour. This one sold at my exhibition last month. It was one of only two glazed (framed under glass) pieces in the whole exhibition!

Crab hut at Brancaster Staithe
* Never killed any of mine with gouache anyway, you may know different!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sketches of ladies

Oil sketch of friends in repose
Then I took the high key colour palette and used it to paint these small sketches in oil, based on my line drawings from the day spa and using a little artistic license regarding backgrounds etc. I just can't wait to be able to paint like this outside in summer. I just need to find willing models. 
In the meantime, if you're local and willing to spend a few hours sitting around in your dressing gown for me please get in touch!

Oil sketch of friends in repose

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