By way of something different, I decided to do a series of urban scenes, with a ‘rainy day’ theme. This isn’t a new idea for me, I did a rainy evening in Lisbon painting a while ago which swiftly sold, but this is the first time I’ve painted scenes of King’s Lynn in this way.
I still feel that I’m finding my way with this subject but nonetheless I was reasonably pleased with my efforts. They also met with approval from the Selectors of the West Norfolk Artists Association exhibition which is currently running in St Nicholas Chapel, King’s Lynn. All three paintings were selected and you can see them along with some 200 other fine artworks until 1.00pm on Tuesday 3rd September 2019. The exhibition is open every day from 10.30am – 4.30pm, except on the last day when it closes early to allow for the take-down during the afternoon.
The Dersingham Art Trail will be opening this weekend, as part of the annual Dersingham Open Gardens event. Around fourteen artists will be taking part, including myself, of course! The Open Gardens event is a fund-raiser for the new Village Centre and for St Nicholas Church, and usually raises a substantial amount each year. Tickets costs £5 on the day from the Village Centre, 83 Manor Road, Dersingham, PE31 6LN, or you can save a £1 by buying in advance from Dersingham Post Office.
Most of the artists taking part are opening their gardens too, so there’s plenty to see. Your ticket will get you a programme and a map with all the details.
Here at Alexandra Close, Margaret has been busy in the garden and it’s looking good, with a riot of colour. Meanwhile, I have got some new paintings to show, plus prints and greetings cards. Do come and have a look and a chat!
11.00am – 5.00pm Sunday and Monday 26th – 27th May 2019.
I’ve been busy with various projects here in the studio, so I haven’t had much time to just make paintings for me. However, a couple of winter tree scenes have fallen off my brush in the past few weeks and you can see them here.
Both watercolours feature a very limited palette of colours. Shadows in the Lane uses Prussian Blue, contrasted with an orange mixed from Burnt Sienna and Lemon Yellow. Blue and Orange are two of my favourite complementary colours.
Sandringham Winter Trees is French Ultramarine Blue based, with touches of Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson and Quinacridone Gold.
These are simple compositions, but they still need careful thinking about colour, tone and brushwork. Feel free to have a go at something similar yourself!
As you may have noticed, there haven’t been many new Blog posts lately. That’s because, apart from a bit of teaching, art has had to take a back seat for the past several months due to my involvement with the new Dersingham Village Centre, or village hall. The Centre is open now and I’m sure there will be art exhibitions there at some point in the future, but there’s still a lot of work to do, as with any new building.
However, the end of the year is always Art Trail time, with the Dersingham Art Trail members opening their studios to welcome visitors. This year’s event was last weekend and in the couple of weeks or so before it I managed to squeeze in some time in the studio to make a few new watercolour paintings to show. You can see them here, a couple of scenes from favourite locations in the North of England and one much closer to home, the Norfolk village of Great Massingham. The three paintings shown here are all for sale, so do get in touch if you’re interested. Or just enjoy looking at them!
Yes, they don’t really go together, being at opposite ends of the country, but yet, in painting, terms, there are similarities. As I’ve written before, one of the themes that constantly recurs in my paintings is that of big skies and wide open spaces. Here you see two recent works that both embody that theme.
Thornham Harbour is just a few miles from my studio and I often paint views of it. Here I decided to focus on the incredible high tides that come into the harbour from time to time, often in the evening. The water in the creek just keeps on rising, flowing silently over the road until the famous Coal Barn is surrounded, like a stony island in shimmering sea.
Further north, the Yorkshire peak of Pen-y-Ghent also stands like an island in a sea or greens and browns. It’s quite a few years now since I walked the Pennine Way, but I still like to revisit those scenes in paint. This view is taken from one of my photos that I took while walking the Way, between Horton-in-Ribbledale and Hawes.
Well, not literally, but a painting of the Eiger anyway! This was a simple study that I did with one of my students who comes to the studio for one to one tuition. She had painted a mountain view in oils and I thought it would be nice to tackle a similar subject in watercolour. I had a photo of a Swiss train running on a line beneath the huge bulk of the Eiger, so we used that as a reference but left the train out and substituted a skier, or maybe someone snowshoeing, anyway a distant figure. This can be a great way of showing scale in a simple landscape painting, with the mountains towering above.
The painting itself is actually deceptively simple, there are several stages to it, building up texture and tone on the mountains and the foreground. The main colour used is Prussian Blue, which is very transparent, allowing previously painted features to show through the washes. As someone once said, it’s like painting with coloured sheets of glass. The blue was modified in some of the washes to make various greys, adding a little Burnt Sienna and Quinacridone Red to the Prussian Blue.
Probably the trickiest part of the painting was the first wash, the sky. To get a completely even wash requires several things. Plenty of watery paint, a large brush (I used a 1 inch flat sable and synthetic brush by Pro Arte) and practice. I turned the paper upside down and painted downwards from the top of the mountains to the top of the paper. A shallow angle on the board makes the paint run smoothly, we hope! Load the brush well, use the minimum of brush strokes and as soon as you reach the top of the paper, leave it alone! Take up any water that collects on the edge of the paper, using a damp brush or kitchen paper. Make sure the wash is completely dry before moving the board otherwise any wet paint will run back into the drying area and create a mark.
Simple but quite effective. This painting was on a quarter imperial sheet of Waterford 300gsm NOT paper and using good quality paper like this certainly makes the job easier. Using the best quality materials won’t paint the picture for you, but it does help!
I just thought I’d add a little gallery of paintings that I’ve made over the past few months. Eventually these will make their way on to my main website, but in the meantime I hope you will enjoy looking at them here.
If you are interested in any particular work, please use the details on my Contact page to get in touch. Some of these paintings have already been sold, but I am always happy to paint something not the same but similar. I also sometimes have A4 sized prints available.
Is there anywhere in Norfolk more painted than Cley Mill? Maybe not, although Burnham Overy Mill must run it a close second. However, apart from a few pen and wash demonstrations, it’s years since I last made a painting of this iconic landmark.
The opportunity to remedy that came last week, when I visited Spalding Art and Crafts Society for a watercolour demonstration evening. I wanted to choose a subject which would show the beauty of a simple watercolour, painted in a very limited palette of colours, and Cley Windmill fitted the bill perfectly. I kept the composition simple but made sure that the mill and buildings made a good statement against the sky. Don’t be afraid to use strong tonal contrasts in a subject like this, from white to almost black.
My palette of colours was simple in the extreme. Just two, one blue and one red. I used French Ultramarine for my blue and Brown Madder for my red, but a similar effect could be obtained by using Cobalt Blue and either Light Red or Burnt Sienna. But I like Brown Madder as it makes nice, slightly purple, darks when mixed with Ultramarine, and it can be varied from pale pink to reddish-brown by using more or less water with it.
The Spalding group were lovely people to paint for and it was a very enjoyable evening. When I got home, well after a few days actually, I looked again at the painting and decided the tower of the mill needed a little more fine tuning as it was looking a bit lop-sided. Often, it’s only when looking at a painting with fresh eyes that I can spot something that just needs a small adjustment. For that reason, I’m never in too much of a hurry to sign and frame a work, but prefer to look at it for a few days. However, there is a danger in this – fiddling! Only do what you feel to be essential, then put the brushes down.
I was pleased with the finished painting and will be showing it in the West Norfolk Artists Association spring exhibition, which is coming up soon. Thornham Village Hall, from Friday until Monday of the Easter holiday. 10am – 5pm on each of the four days. Do try and call in, if you’re in the area!
Those of you who know my work will know that I love those wide open spaces in the landscape. The beach, the fields, and of course the sky! Here are a couple of recent watercolour paintings that certainly have that theme. These, and more, will be on show in my studio for the Dersingham Art Trail event on the weekend of 25th and 26th November. Not only my own studio but eight others will be open around the village. You can find details and a map of studios on the Trail website dersinghamarttrail.org
All painters must go to Venice! It is the one city that, more than any other that I’ve visited, encapsulates the glory of times gone by, but is still a vibrant and exciting place. To arrive at the bus or train station and to see the Grand Canal straight before you sets the watercolour pulse racing!
Margaret and I spent a week in Venice during April and, although I had very little time for sketching, as we were with a group, I did take nearly 300 photographs. On my return to the studio I soon got busy with my brushes and you can see some of the results here.
All the paintings are made with a very limited palette of colours. Venice Dawn uses just two, MaimeriBlu Berlin Blue and Orange Lake, with a little bit of blue gouache on the gondolas. The other two paintings used a more muted palette of Cobalt Blue Light and Venetian Red. There are some small areas where I combined Raw Sienna with Venetian Red, and the red highlights on the gondolas were made with Cadmium Red Light. The greenish tinge of the canals is made from Cobalt Blue Light and Raw Sienna, with a touch of Primary Yellow. These are all MaimeriBlu colours. In all the paintings I used a few flicks of white gouache for highlights.
In all three of these paintings about 90% is done with just the main two or three colours, described above. Keeping to a limited palette gives a great feeling of simplicity, harmony and unity to the painting, so it’s always my preferred method of working. I’ll show you some more new paintings soon!