Quiet contemplation

It looks like there has been a lack of activity, but really it is a lack of posting that’s the problem. There has been a lot of evaluation recently.

As seems to be the annual trend getting outside and painting takes a backseat during those cold dark winter months and it’s difficult to break those winter habits.

However the studio has warmed up so I’ve ventured in and have been moving between trying to observe and capture details vrs trying to just get an impression of a scene. The first image is a watercolour which took care and reasonable precision.

I’m pleased with the result it is crisp and vibrant and, whilst it was carefully controlled, it doesn’t look overworked

Dartmoor, home turf

The second image wasn’t drawn out and was much more carefree. Mainly because it is an acrylic, but also because I wanted to just try out composition over finesse.

Afternoon in the Peak District

They both have something going for them. Certainly the acrylic came together much quicker, I didn’t have to plan my light and dark with as much forethought since I could just paint in the light coming through the trees over the dark.

My next plan is to try and redo the acrylic image with the same intent but in watercolour. Let’s see how it goes.

Landscape turned portrait

I think of myself as a landscape painter but I’m not sure why as I enjoy painting a range of subjects. I think it might be that a landscape can be manipulated more so than a portrait and doesn’t really require setting up like a still life. Anyhow I have found myself drawn to the challenge of portrait painting more and more especially on those days when you can’t really get out into the landscape because it’s not quite suitable painting weather. Whilst I know the old saying suffer for your art anyone who has tried to paint watercolours in the rain will know there are some practical issues as to why this isn’t a good idea.

So in the comfort of the studio over a two to three days I’ve been having a go at some portraits from photographs. This one is from Raw Umber Studios which is a great online resource.

This next one is demonstrates the problems of reusing a canvas several times. Sometimes this enhances a landscape, but in the case of a portrait it had caused some problems, creating a texture where I definitely don’t want one. I think there are still some details to complete on this painting but it is one that took a fair bit of rework and I learnt a lot from doing it. One of the main things was using too much white too early on. You can see what effect that has just under the lips on the left hand side. It creates a chalky look which is hard to get rid of. In this case I had to restart the whole painting putting a much darker colour over the white and building up from there. It might be a lesson on preparing a canvas before starting, in this case I could have sanded it down.

You can see from the next two portraits that a clean fresh canvas will produce a better result for a portrait. The canvas below had been used before but with a very thinly painted application of paint, the small smudge of blue on the lower right shows that reusing a canvas can produce some nice effects from the under painting.

My final portrait in his blog puts some of the lessons learnt into practice, a well primed canvas, more subtle blending, careful control of tone and a lot less white paint,

Finally it is warming up and I am getting more time in the studio so hopefully I’ll have more content to share soon.

Thanks for following.

Watercolour review

I’ve had a few days of throwing myself into painting, it seems a bit of a shame to be sitting in a studio given these fabulous days, but I think the time is coming where we can get back to painting en Plein air.

One thing that has amazed me with the amount of time we now have for painting is how my paint you can get through. It had resulted in me using up all of those squished tubes and trying to substitute different colour combinations.

One of my favourite paintings has been an old rusty bucket that I first painted in 2018 in New Zealand.

This subject does have a lot going for it; it’s a simple enough subject matter but tells a story and has some battle scars to prove it, the subject also emerges nicely from the dark recess it was in and has a rusty metal sibling which helps with the narrative. In the original I had failed to get the dark dark enough and it didn’t blend seamlessly in with the visible detail of the subject. This produced a disconnect in the image. It is interesting that when painting a really dark space it does need to be quite a flat wash and therefore you need to mix up a lot of paint, otherwise you end up with shapes in the not so dark darkness. Both having enough paint mixed up and blending the light and dark seamlessly are challenging in Plein air painting, especially when your art kit is a tiny field box with three small mixing areas. I guess it highlights some of the differences between studio work and open air work.