Welcome to my Blog

I am pleased to welcome you to my blog and though I am a complete novice when it comes to blogging I am excited by the possibilities it presents and look forward to showing you my work, the work that some of my students produce and to answering any questions you may have about aspects of the work, techniques used or just discussing painting and drawing.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

'A Kentish Farm'

For those of you that I met and spoke to at The Ideal Home Exhibition on March 19th on the Warner Leisure stand here is the finished painting that I was working on to highlight the Art/Painting Experiences available at Warner's various resorts. I spent just another half an hour or so putting in some finishing details at Norton Grange on Sunday Morning (27th) in the bar. This picture was inspired by the artist Norman Battershill and a recent holiday spent exploring the Kent countryside, a beautiful part of the country and really should be visited!
I used a fairly limited palette for this painting and the colours I used are listed below :-

Cobalt Blue, Cadmium Yellow, Alizirin Crimson, Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber and Payne's Gray.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Painting A Landscape In Artisan Oils

This is a pre primed cotton duck canvas 900 x 300 on which I have drawn in HB pencil the very basic details of the scene, a wide open vista of Dartmoor with Bel Tor in the far distance, not visible yet. After establishing the basic scene on the canvas I give the canvas a wash of acrylic, I usually use an earth colour for this, yellow ochre, raw Sienna, raw umber or for a slightly warmer wash, Burnt Sienna or burnt Umber, in this instance I have used Raw Sienna. I mix the colour with enough water to make th acrylic wash transparent (you still want to be able to see your drawing) similar to a watercolour wash, this serves three purposes; firstly it seals the graphite pencil so that it doesn't mix with and contaminate any pale colours used, secondly it kills the white of the canvas which if you work outdoors with the sun behind your back will stop you getting sun blindness which I have had and  recommend it's avoidance, it is really unpleasant! Finally it makes judging colours and colour mixing easier than on a stark white ground (canvas). I am now ready to start painting the sky, I find it is so much easier to work a painting from that which is farthest away layer by layer towards the foreground, this enables each successive layer to overlap the last as you will observe as the painting progresses. Keep your eye open for the next stage!

The beauty of large open spaces like Dartmoor is the drama of the skies and although in this painting it takes up only the upper third of the composition it is none the less important, it sets the mood and can impart a sense of foreboding. The blue I used in the thin light strip on the horizon and for mixing some of the other sky colours was cerulean blue, to create the darker, brooding blue/grays I used Prussian blue and Paynes grey.The soft creamy yellow is achieved by blending White and Raw Sienna and a little warmth was introduced by mixing a little Raw Umber, Alizarin Crimson, Raw Sienna and White and then softly blending this into the underside of the darker rain clouds. The lower edges of the dark blue/grey clouds are feathered down into the  lower sky colours which achieves both a sense of falling rain and wind whisked edges. This sky will now set the mood for the rest of the painting. The little mole hill on the horizon to the right is Brentor which is surmounted by the 13th century Church of St. Michael.

The patchwork of fields in the distance was created by firstly laying in brush strokes of various soft grass greens and field colours placed  directionally to describe the undulations in the landscape as on the right hand side of the above image, then the distant hedges and trees were applied to create the patchwork as seen on the left hand side of the painting above. The greens for the fields were made up from mixes of cobalt blue, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow pale, paynes grey and white; little touches of alizarin crimson were added to the greens to grey them off a little which has the effect of pushing them back in the picture, helping to create aerial perspective, the illusion of depth. Rain is on it's way and so the colours are fairly subdued in the distance. I mixed some darker blue greens using the same colours as above and with the addition here and there of a little olive green I created darker earth greens for the slightly closer trees and hedgerows, this method will be continued across the painting to the right and I will finally put in the rocks and buildings of Tavistock, Peter and Mary Tavy and the more isolated farmsteads that sit in the green patch-work quilt.

Middle distant moorland has been put in at centre and left and detail is now being put  in. The Tor if memory is correct is Great Mis Tor. I was there in September and the heather was still out in places on the high moor which adds a little colour. The greens are a continuation of the palette already described; the tor is painted in mixes of Raw Umber, Yellow Ochre and White, whilst the heather is a mix of Alizarin  Crimson, Raw Umber and White. Next is to put in more detail, trees, bushes and shadows to finish the middle distance.  

The middle distance has been built up with, and highlights put on the trees and bushes using the same colours for mixing the greens. The foreground was established using various green mixes as used throughout the painting, as this is the closest area of the scene to the viewer I have worked with larger brushes and made the strokes bigger; starting at the line of the brow of the hill in the foreground I worked from top to bottom overlaying the strokes to create the layered effect that you get in nature (the grass and vegetation in the front overlaps that which is further away). the next stage was to have a cup of coffee or two or three and sit and look at the painting and decide how much and where to put in the Heather and yellow flowers which I'm not sure of their identity (in your garden they would be weeds I suspect)! Having put in more detailed vegetation and grasses I am now going to live with the painting before I decide if anything else needs further work. If you get to a point in a painting where you're not certain what to do next then DON'T DO ANYTHING! put it somewhere you can look at it and usually alterations or the need for additions usually become apparent. Try looking at your painting in a mirror, it is like looking at it through someone else's eyes, if nothing jumps out at you, sign it and announce it completed!

"What else has he done"? You might ask, well in truth, very little, I added a few more touches of rough vegetation in the foreground, sat and had a cup of tea whilst contemplating the whole, signed it and announced it complete! This was always intended to be one of a pair but I have another two in mind and so I think it is destined to be one of a series of four, incidentally the painting is 900 x 300. Look out for my next blog, the painting of the Widecombe Vale, coming to a computer near you soon!!!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Technical Pen and Water-Colour Wash

Market Cross House, Windsor 
Vernacular architecture such as this famous building in Windsor 
(now Woods The Chemist) is my favourite sort of subject matter 
for the pen and wash technique, in this case drawn with a 0.3mm 
technical pen with waterproof ink and then a few simple sepia
water-colour washes are added giving a sort of aged feel to a
building that dates back to the early 1600s. In the drawing I used 
a few simple shading methods like hatching and cross hatching.
If you are not confident enough to go straight in with the ink then 
you can start with a very light pencil drawing then put in the 
definite lines with the pen and when it is quite dry erase your
pencil lines with a kneadable/putty eraser then your ready for your 
colour washes. Haven't got sepia watercolour? Try a tea bag!
With Sepia Water-Colour Wash

Sunday, 6 March 2011


                                                         'Dartmoor, View Towards Hay Tor'

This is my latest landscape, it is painted using my favourite medium, Winsor and Newton's  Artisan water mixable oil paints. I love the wilds of Dartmoor, especially up on the high moor where you see large dramatic skies, the patchwork of fields echoed by the shadows of clouds. It is heaven to just stand, breath in the fresh air and let the wind blow away the cobwebs, truly a painters paradise, if you haven't been I urge you to visit and take your art equipment if you are like me, you won't want to leave!