Tag: painting

A garden still life

It’s early summer, the weather is good, time for a warm up painting or three before I sling all the gear in the car and try my hand at a few en plain air landscapes. Looking around in the garden for potential subjects I noticed a red chair and big yellow plastic bin calling attention to themselves under a fruit tree that sails across at an angle, on which I’d hung a basket of lobelia. There’s a nice balance where the viewer’s attention is kept by the colours and angles, with the shadow of the tree taking you back around. I moved things around slightly here and there until I was satisfied with the placement of the objects, and then started to loosely sketch onto an 8 x 10 inch canvas. It was then that I noticed the patch of long grass and nettles behind was a bit bland, so I placed an aluminium pot there to ‘fill the void’.

set_up_and_blocking-in

I usually cover canvases with a thin layer of raw sienna to avoid painting on white. After a simple pencil line I go over this in very thin ultramarine to roughly indicate the main spaces, and then thinly block in the dark areas. I’m also using my oldest and much loved wooden sketching easel which I’ve repaired a few times. It’s not too stable out in the open in even a slight wind, but you make do. Hanging a heavy kit bag on it helps a lot.

I’m also using a very limited palette of just two blues (ultramarine and cobalt), two yellows (lemon yellow and yellow ochre) and two reds (light red and cadmium red) plus white. I can mix everything I’ll need from these, even using the white sparingly. It’s good discipline too, and will help me avoid using too many unnecessary colours. I prefer turpentine to any other medium, not just because I just love the smell!

Stages Garden still life wip oil on canvas 8 x 10

Garden Still Life, oil on canvas 8 x 10 inches
Garden Still Life, oil on canvas 8 x 10 inches

As I was working just outside my own back door, I took my time and completed the picture in six sessions of about half hour each, over a couple of weeks. Partly because the shadows had to be in the right place and therefore the sun had to be shining! I spent nearly as much time looking and assessing and making decisions about what comes next or what to change as I did actually painting. This is normal for me, it’s an all consuming experience. I was careful to describe the aluminium pot in just a stroke or two, and the yellow bin didn’t need much work at all, you can see the stain of the raw sienna on the canvas easily. The only area I’m not too sure about is the patch of nettles but overall the finished painting is ok. On to the next one….

Harbinger II / Objects in Space

Just a quick update on my previous post, playing around with acrylics on canvas
with some oil pastel over the top. Objects in space 1, 2 and 3…

objects-in-space-no-2-nov2013
objects-in-space-no-1-nov2013

objects-in-space-no-3-dec2013

Project potential

This is the kind of site that to me, has great potential for drawing and painting projects. There is something about neglect and the resulting decay as nature reclaims surfaces at different speeds. The process throws up interesting combinations; unlikely colours with the ‘wrong’ textures, subtle patterns in stark compositions, the mechanical and industrial together with the fragile or picturesque. Fab.

Blue sky and yellow canopy, geometric patterns of shadows all combine at this temporarily neglected site.

Positive in yellow

A crop of oilseed rape in full flower demands attention. There is something compelling about the strident, unnatural ocean of colour breaking the harmony. As dusk approached I drove around a country bend to see this yellow sea end abruptly at the grass footpath, as if it were a yellow Hokusai wave. I turned around, parked up and produced this rapid watercolour with my gear spread out on the bonnet of the car.
As darkness approached and the colours were fading to grey, I managed to leave it as it looked when
I first saw it.

path-by-the-rape-field
This painting of two oilseed fields by the lane was produced on Sunday morning, and I used an easel for
a change, allowing me to paint quite freely, standing back often to decide how much is just enough, so to speak. It was quiet except for a Whitethroat that had taken up territory in the hedge separating the two oilseed fields and was expressing himself with his dry, jangly song constantly. A perfect soundtrack.

Of the many meanings of yellow across world cultures, ‘ol Wikipedia tells me, in Japan it symbolises courage; in China it is the colour of happiness and wisdom, as well as the colour chosen by Buddhists
for mourning.

On our life’s journey, we will all lose someone who was very proud of our achievements and in their eyes
we could do no wrong. This bright picture is for them.

sunlight-in-the-lane
Sunlight in the lane, Terling Hall Road. Painted on a quiet and peaceful Sunday morning in May