2011

Ellie and Zeus. 12 x 16. Oils.

Kew Gardens. Oil on canvas panel. 9 x 12.

East Putney 2. Oils. 9 x 12.

Putney Heath. Oils. 11 x 14.

Arch - Upper Richmond Road. Oils. 9 x 12.

Putney Pier. Oil on board. 8 x 10.

Beach huts at West Wittering. Oil on board. 4 x 12.

Kite surfing. Oil on board. 8 x 10.

Putney Bridge 2. Oil on canvas. 9 x 12.

Wimbledon Common. Oil on board. 11 x 14.

Wimbledon Common evening. Oil on board. 8 x 10.

Wimbledon Windmill. Oil on board. 8 x 10.

Barnes Green. Oil on board. 8 x 10.

Autumn Winds. Oils. 8 x 10.

Putney rail bridge. Oils. 8 x 10.

East Putney. Oils. 8 x 10.

Putney Bridge. Oil on canvas. 8 x 10.

Ducks. Oil on canvas. 8 x 10.

Kicker Rock. Oil on board. 7 x 3.5.

Indian Paintbrush. Oils. 8 x 10. August 2011.

Quite a quick (and small) painting this one, as time is a bit limited at the moment. Fun to do all the same. Experimented a little with some colours, in the sky and distant hills especially, and also made some use of a palette knife, which is rare for me. Must try to use them more often so that I get more comfortable with what they can do for me.

I don't normally like to go back and re-work paintings once I've decided to call them finished, but may just tweak the background trees on the right of this one. I added an extra tree to break up the symmetry of the skyline, and the colour doesn't match up. I suppose it doesn't actually need to, but I'd be happier if it did, so we'll see...

Rocks at Javea (after Sorolla). Oils. 20 x 15. August 2011.

This is my (very loose!) interpretation of Sorolla's 'Rocks at Javea'. An interesting experience to do this one, the origninal seems to be a mix of some very thinly painted, almost dry brushed areas, and a lot of much heavier applications - almost impasto in places. Part of the difficulty I had was in the sheer weight of paint that needed to go onto the surface to try and imitate what Sorolla had done.

The colours in the original are incredibly intense, more so than I have been able to capture – and this is a very bright and colourful painting for me compared to what I normally do. Sorolla must have been incredibly precise with how and where he laid down each stroke of colour, since they are all very distinct in this picture – nothing has been blended. Incredible technique and he must have been quite amazing to see at work.

I hit the wall on this one after a while - got to that point where it felt as if more needed doing, but at the same time I was getting that nagging voice telling me to stop before I ruined it... I'm hoping that I managed to pick the right moment.

Untitled. Oils. 11 x 14. July 2011.


This has been painted at request from a photo. The greens were something of a challenge, and the deckchairs have exposed just how poor my drawing has become. This is an area that I badly need to practice, time to get out a sketchpad and some pencils.

Aldeburgh trawlers. Oils. 7 x 3.5. July 2011.


Not quite in the same league as my previous painting, I don’t think, but at least I have got something done. This is another one of the quick pieces I’ve started doing to use up some off-cuts of hardboard. They don’t take long to do, and are so small that you’re forced to leave out any detail. Good practice, and fun to do as well. I think that I’ll try to do more of these in future, they’re good for morale!

Spindlestone Farm. Oils. 12 x 18. July 2011.


This is my shoddy attempt at copying a beautiful picture from Richard Schmid. I’d post a scan of the original, but it would be just too embarrassing… I saw the original in Schmid’s excellent book Alla Prima. If you are an aspiring artist and can only ever buy one book on painting, then this should be the one. The paintings within it are utterly superb, and his writing style, sense of humour and his methods of imparting knowledge are all top-notch.

Flagstaff Aspens. Oils. 11 x 14.


This was painted from a photo taken when my wife and I were hiking the Abineau trail in northern Arizona last summer. Unfortunately the photo was taken in the middle of the day, when the sun was more or less overhead, and so the lighting was not so dramatic. Maybe we should have stayed longer and hiked back in the dark! Past all the bears. Hmm. Maybe not…

Bamburgh Castle. Oils. 7 x 3.5. May 2011.


Another one painted from a photo. I have a stack of images from this very picturesque part of our coast, all crying out to be turned into paintings. So much material and so little time! This particular piece was an exercise in what could be done with a small offcut of gessoed hardboard (my support of choice at the moment). Being so small the painting didn’t take long to produce, and I was quite pleased with the results. Until I looked at the photo of the painting, that is. The photos always seem to expose flaws that the eye doesn’t see. In this case, some of the purple underpainting is showing through (sometimes you might want this to be happen, but it is most definitely not deliberate here), the brush strokes are a little too prominent in some places, and the castle itself looks like three distinct strokes. The painting looks a little better in real life, honestly!

 

Galapagos Sea Lion. Oils. 11 x 14. May 2011.

Painted from a – that’s right, you got it in one.  We spent part of our honeymoon in the Galapagos Islands, and the Boss absolutely loved their sea lions.  Very nice to see on beaches, and indeed to go snorkelling with, but not so nice to paint I’m afraid.  I really struggled with the colours of the sea lion here, and they remain quite exaggerated.  But one thing I am starting to learn about painting is to know when to stop.  Although this one definitely needed something to make it right, I don’t think I had that ‘something’ to hand, and so decided to call it quits before I made it any worse.  Less is more and all that.  Mind you, in some cases less is just – well, less.


Putney Riverside. Oils. 8 x 10. April 2011.

One of the few paintings I have managed to produce from life – ‘en plein air’, as they say over the Channel.  Many contend that it’s the only way to paint.  I’m a fan of several plein air painters, and will add some links to their blogs and websites in due course.  Until then I’m afraid you’ll have to make do with my distinctly mediocre efforts.  Painting outdoors from life seems, to me, to be far, far more difficult than painting amidst the comforts of home.  There are the logistic difficulties, lugging everything around with you, finding a suitable spot where you aren’t going to get run over, drowned, mugged or arrested, the weather and so on.  Then the difficulty of reducing a complex scene to key components, to say nothing of managing to capture fleeting effects of light.  A lot more practice needed before I get anywhere near to where I want to be with this.


Down In The Tube Station (South Kensington). Oils. 11 x 14. April 2011.

I mentioned in a blog post earlier about how useful it is to carry a digital camera around with you to capture those fleeting images that may form the basis of a later painting.  Remembering of course that the camera sees the world in a rather different way to the human eye, of course.  Well I’m not usually one to actually ever follow my own advice, but on this rare occasion I did have the camera with me when I saw an intriguing alcove across the tracks at South Kensington.  This painting was the result.  There are some fascinating sights to be seen on the Underground (including some of the passengers…), and I often think that it might be an interesting challenge to try to produce a painting of every station on the network.  Any takers?!


Wandsworth Park. Oils. 8 x 10. March 2011.

Another one produced on site, this time at a park near my home.  Not very successful I’m afraid, not enough variety of tone and depth in the trees, and I was utterly defeated by the bare spring branches.  Even managed to get the photo wrong, with shiny wet paint showing through!  I could take the photo again, but don’t really think it would be worth the effort.

 


Italian Make-over. Oils. 12 x 16. March 2011.

I was quite pleased with this picture, some nice tone and colour, and had captured some lovely soft edges and a warm feel.  Right up until the moment when I added the ornate railings on the balcony.  I had not been looking forward to painting those at all, and as soon as they were done I realised why.  Ugh.  Hard-edged, very two-dimensional.  They ruined what had been, up until then, a reasonable painting.  Oh well, a lesson learned, I hope.  Less is sometimes, very definitely, more.

 

 


Grand Canyon 4. Oils. 12 x 10. March 2011.

We spent the second week of our honeymoon in the Grand Canyon last year, and you won’t be surprised to hear that we took rather a lot of photos while we were there.  This painting is from one of them, but didn’t really come out quite as well as I’d hoped for.  In particular I struggled with the dark rock walls nearest to the point of view, I think possibly because the camera hadn’t been able to capture all the subtle nuances of colour within those deep shadows; the water was difficult too.  Mind you, some of it was far from easy when we were rafting over (or through, or under) the stuff, if I remember rightly…


Garden of England. Oils. 11 x 14. March 2011.

Strange how things turn out sometimes, isn’t it?  Picture the scene.  Early evening, I had just finished with a painting that I had been finding difficult (as I do find quite a few of them, to be honest).  I can’t remember which one I’d been fighting with, but in any case I found myself with a heap of unused paint on my palette and thought that, rather than waste it, I might spend an hour or two just playing around and experimenting.  So I grabbed a reference photo that I had printed out for some reason or other, and just began very loosely slapping on the paint.  I really surprised myself by producing what is one of my favourite pieces of the year – if not ever, frankly.  Probably worked so well because I went into the exercise with absolutely zero expectations, who knows?  Wish I could work that way more often!

With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight I would make a few subtle changes, such as to tone down the distant trees beyond the cornfield in order to get them to recede a little more.  But I have a thing about not liking to fiddle with and adjust pictures once I’ve signed them, so I expect this one will remain as it is.


Strand on the Green rail bridge. Oils. 8 x 10. March 2011.

Another one painted on the spot.  A gorgeous sunny day and would have been great for painting the scene I had in mind if only I’d thought to check the tide times!  I’d planned to get down onto the shingle a little way upstream from this spot and paint the blue pier that you can (possibly) make out in the mid-distance of what I ended up producing.  Couldn’t have even managed that with waders, a boat maybe…

Anyway, I was reasonably satisfied with the result, by my standards.  Drawing needs sharpening up, aerial perspective still needs working on – the background still isn’t where it should appear to be – in the background!  And some of my colour mixing remains bizarre.  More practice needed, and then some more again.  Still, a friend of mine claimed to like it, and so has received it as a gift.  Ha!  Now he has to try to remember to bring it out from the bottom of a draw and pretend that it’s out on permanent display anytime we go round for a visit.  That’ll teach him.


Putney Bridge. Oils. 8 x 10. March 2011.

From life.  Composition questionable, choice of background colour insane, vegetation along bankside poorly rendered and ornate streetlamp on the bridge itself overdone and too fussy (mind you, the same could perhaps be said about the real street lighting).  I shouldn’t have let the nearest mooring pole kiss the bottom edge of the bridge archway either.

Apart from that, reasonably content!  At least the water looks a little bit like water.


Wandsworth Bridge. Oils. 8 x 10. February 2011.

Also from life.  Painted late in the afternoon, I really felt I was chasing the light on this one.  I was reasonably pleased with the result, although the lamp posts on the bridge should have been rendered a lot more deftly, and it was a shame that I couldn’t get the reflected lights in the river to look more intense.  A couple of young lads turned up on BMX bikes as I was wrapping this one up (and the sleet was beginning to fall!)  They surprised me by admiring the picture and even asking if I sold any!  Didn’t offer to buy it from me though…

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