Monday, December 19, 2011

Home Farm, Track to the Lake

..... another painting from Home Farm . Life is geting very busy at the moment, I'm behind with posts here - not to mention my Christmas cards (I just did!).

Friday, December 09, 2011

HOME FARM, Roughmoor, Bromham

I've been working on  a new project for a while, a commission to paint a farm,  a beautiful place, set just below the hills at Bromham.There are many possible, views, subjects to paint choices are sometimes too many. The obvious subject is the hills.

But I have been fixated on the lake there and a 'Hawthorn Tree' which makes a grand subject.

It is  a rough, old, spiky, tree; strong, stocky with unruly branches,  full of colour and changing quickly with the season; ...

..... but it contrasts against the water behind which sometimes is very still, sometimes rippled , and the colours gradate from a deep indigo near the bank to a heavenly cerulean blue further out. I've done several studies - initially it was windy and rather wild which these studies reflect, a freedom after the summer sessions of tight restraint, painting buildings in Bath.

The beginnings of a larger painting, a lot more leaves needed still ....
The easel is an exposed area so choosing a day when there's little wind is important, as far as one can predict the UK weather :-(*/

Thursday, December 08, 2011

CHARLOTTE MOORE - Exhibition in Bath

An exciting exhibition by Charlotte Moore, at The Gallery (Formerly Icon Gallery) in St James's Street Bath.
 Charlotte Moore's exhibition at the Gallery on St James's Street continues until Christmas Eve.
Charlotte studied at Chelsea and Falmouth Colleges of Art and has exhibited in London, the Midlands and the West Country as well as in Canberra and Brisbane. Her work features in collections worldwide.
 The gallery has until now been showing mainly mesh paintings/sculptures, which have aroused great interest and much discussion. As of this weekend (10th Dec) the exhibition will change with the addition of two and three dimensional paintings. All works on display have classical art historical references (part of their appeal is finding the allusions), while still retaining Charlotte’s unique style which is charming, colourful and lighthearted.



Saturday, December 03, 2011

Bath View from the putting Green, below Sion Hill

Later November view from the putting Green, below Sion Hill. Done in two quick sessions. Each time, soon after I sat down it began to rain, and a windy squall hit on the second sitting although both days had been 'Beautifully Sunny'  till I started work there. (I think I can control the weather now. I just paint .... and it rains).
This was finished as the light faded so I put a bit of yellow glow in some windows as the lights were beginning to come on.
It's a small commission for a friend who needs it for a present. The view had caught my eye in the summer when the light in the mornings reflected in bright patches off some of the distant roofs  - very lovely and most 'Evocative of Bath'. But I only managed to get there in the afternoons and although there was a short splash of sunlight at the first sitting which cast interesting shadows and spot-lit the chimney tops etc., generally it was a pretty dull light. However I quite like this result with an Evening feel.
Oil on board *"8" x 5"

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Evening skies with jet trails over the village of Market Lavington

These eight paintings were done "en plein air", sitting in the tailgate of my car, at the end of May into June 2011 (posted some then). Some were done on consecutive days within about two weeks, when we had  a beautiful period of calm warm weather with still evening skies. Practically there were always jet trails hanging motionless, or being drawn across the sky as I watched. Sizes are 8" x 5" in the main thought the first three were of slightly different height sizes, using offcuts, till I realised suddenly that I should standardise sizes and create a series.
Now I'm trying to decide how to display them, in groups of three, or four or singley. I quite like the set of three or four as it gives rise to the idea of 'time passing', and possibly 'film', that almost old fashion medium (with sprocket holes), much superceded by video format.

 One has to work very fast  to get the paint down as the sky is changing swiftly all the time. So these probably took half an hour on average . It is really difficult to be sure as I always forget to check the time. Sometimes I'd get there and wait a bit  to summon the energy; sitting, contemplating  till it  felt 'right' to start (better late then never), sometimes weary(or lazy) and mesmerised by  the splendour and drama of it all. Then urge myself into action working, against the clock to beat the fading light, till I can't see the colours I'm mixing - it can feel rather futile trying to attempt this.(once or twice I didn't even get going)

  Often I'll  listen to music a walkman, Bach piano sonatas/partitas are good, they seem to stop out other thoughts and interruptions, helping  the mind (and paint) to flow -  the melody lines interweaving, stir feelings and energy, somehow relating to interweaving evolving cloud patterns.

Bach Partita no2

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

View towards Blackfriars Bridge

One of two paintings of this view, this being the first one, 27th June. I had found a platform directly under Waterloo Bridge where pigeons nest and skateboarders sometimes practice tight maneouvers. It was pretty quiet so I set up easel and did this in one sitting (or should I say 'standing'!). The annoying wind was coming up the Thames from the east  in gusts  of about 30-40 mph so was is a matter of stamina to stand and paint, for a couple of hours, with one hand steadying the easel. I tend to zoom in with my composition sometimes but Think it  would be preferable to have had a wider viewpoint in this case.  I'd like to do a bit more consolidating,  a couple of details, perhaps.

Friday, October 14, 2011

St Mary le Strand, London WC2

Just had to do a touch more - a hint of detail on the white buildings left of church. tail lights and wheels on the vehicles (the nearest was a sports car), the steeple is more defined with sky showing through bits of architecture. I hope Valerie will accept the changes in good grace:-) (See her comment below in the last post below) ... and I hope I've not ruined it.
Oh(!) and congratulations Val on getting your set of 6 paintings in the Bath Prize Exhibition, and one on their promotional brocure. Great achievement and I'm very pleased for you.
Note: Valerie received a 'Highly Commended' certificate on one of her paintings.

J. S. Bach - Kantate BWV 36 - Schwingt freudig euch empor - 7 - Aria (J. S. Bach-Stiftung)
Beautifully sung by Nurai Rial

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

ST MARY Le STRAND, from the East (London)

Earlier version
This is a weeny painting (8" x 5" on panel) of  St Mary Le Strand which I did on a day in the capital a month ago, trying out a new mini Pochade box and I was determined to grab a bit of painting time that day. It was  a beautiful morning to start, with a food fair and loads of people enjoying along the South Bank. But 2hrs later, as is often the case in the UK, it clouded over as I prepared to paint, and a fine drizzle set in after a while so I had to stop (not having an umbrella to hand),  and I was running short of time but would like to have done a bit more. Now I quite like this loose unfinished look,  in contrast to the much larger 'Bath Guildhall' I just painted. I think that crane rig is hovering above the back of Somerset House, and the whiter patch left of the church is sunlight on the facades of the tall buildings along the Strand (where many of the buses are going). I have always been intending to do some finishing so maybe I should add a few more touches of paint to define this area.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


View of The Guildhall, Bath, painted from the roof of the Abbey.
Been pretty busy and I couldn't get over to Bath last week, but wanted to paint the Guildhall. On Sunday I drew the outlines with watercolour on  a gesso-board, at street level. 100's of people walking by, and buses, kept blocking the view. Drizzly rain finally beat me to a stop before I could get into painting properly.
Then I  joined a  tour of the Abbey roof and tower; the sun came out, so asked if I could paint from the roof. As a special circumstance the tour guide generously agreed and I returned on Monday morning, climbed the 212 winding steps and spent several hours up there over two days trying to process so much information and capture something of the complex scene.

The painting still needs a little finishing. By chance I had Vivaldi music on my walkman player, and in the glorious sun was somehow reminded of  Canetto's painting of Venice.  However right now I feel I've had my fill of painting buildings  and  something simple like a tree or cloud  and landscape would be a great alternative.

A view towards The Circus on the steps of no.16, the top of Gay St., a ring of buildings built by John Wood and Son ( 1754-1768. (Thanks to the kindly residents who allowed me to stand on their door steps, they had to negotiate their way around the easel). The Circus is said to symbolise the Sun, whereas the Royal Crescent represents the moon,   Here you can see a great Aerial photo of both and  a virtual site for exploring  architectural Panoramas of Bath
The middleground looked a bit empty so I added the two main figures afterwards. Tricky, trying to make them look natural without getting fussy on the detail.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Salisbury Plain, Everleigh, Nr Upavon

A recent small 10" x 8" commission. It was a beautiful day  but got very windy/gusty after a while, and I nearly got blown away finishing this.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Allottments, Sion Hill, Bath

A beautiful peaceful view. Enjoyed my visits there, meeting people coming and going with their gardening tools, baskets to collect their produce, fruit and veges etc. I had to get those sunflowers in :-):-)
This painting is featured along with others, on the promotional brochure for the Bath Prize 2011

Friday, September 09, 2011

Wild Scarlet, Queen Street, Bath.

When registering to enter the Bath Prize Painting Competition, one  is first allocated  a particular place in the city to paint, however one can submit other paintings as well. A coincidence - the first place I ever painted plein air in Bath, in April this year, was very near the same allocated place of Queen Street, but viewed from the other side of the arch in Trimbridge (see below).
A prominent detail above is a 'manikin' in the LH corner which had displayed a blue dress. Here is an earlier stage of the work ....

 The thoughtful woman in the shop even left it out for me to paint a while longer when closing up at 5.30. However 2 weeks later ...... returning to finish the work, she had placed an eye-catching RED dress outside. Making a rather instant decision, I decided to quickly paint red opaquely over the Blue dress before she took the red one back in - I think the red works well and have given the painting the quirky title  "Wild Scarlet, in Queen Street, Bath" - referring to the two shop notices of the 'Wild Cafe', and 'Scarlet Vintage' dress shop.
I always felt hungry whilst painting outside the cafe, seeing people enjoying their tuck, thinking "Later I'll get 10mins to have a nice rest and a coffee" -  but I never did manage it, parking time always ran out, etc. I  recommend the Scarlet Vintage dress shop with the helpful proprietor woman, displaying the most elegant colourful dresses I've seen for a long time (I don't usually take much notice of such shops).
Having been to the site to work 4 times trying to get the right light, etc, I felt there was a danger of loosing freshness and spontaneity so it is good to finish the work; hopefully I can loosen up do something more lively.
Below is the first painting in Trimbridge done in April. a it is lot smaller and so executed more quickly. I think I'm pleased with the sense of light in this one.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Plein Air meet at British Camp, Malvern.

Another meeting of the UK plein Air Society proved a very enjoyable day, blessed with great weather. After starting the meet with a coffee together at the British Camp Hotel, catching up, and getting aquainted with new members etc., we climbed, recovered our breath(!),  and painted towards the North first, with  a view one of the peaks above Malvern Town  ( the town is below the peak to the right and out of the picture)
We'd all set up first on the NE side looking  towards the Beacon peak.  Peter Cronin - foreground, Roy Wilkinson - far left, Anthony Bridge - far right, GlynisDray -  has just been checking progress on the others and heading back to her easel,
 Moving round the ramparts, a longish walk to the South showed another stunning view from the Black Mountains and round towards Cheltenham and Gloucester.  At the new site, I always seem to be the last to settle and start painting, with the wide choice of open vista. I could see rain towards the Black Mountains so turned my back to that to include the southern tip of the hills;  this painting is a bit literal but I couldn't resist adding colleagues at their work; Roy Wilkinson and  Anthony Bridge, perched against the skyline. . We could see rain in the north, felt  a few scattered drops but the raincloud barely missed us and I heard they's had a good downpour in Malvern. Lucky - it is very exposed on the hill.
My easel, just before packing up at 4.50pm,  the models (posing for free) had long gone for coffee at the hotel a mile or so below so I had to hurry to catch up.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Malvern Hills from Sink Farm Lane

About 5.00 pm Saturday at Sink Farm, Hangmans Lane, Hanley Castle. About twenty  cows surrounded me at the start (quite intimidating!!), but they soon got bored watching and wandered off towards the barns and vanished, milking time. I went back for an hour today . The sky was somewhat different, however reworking a bit the next day certainly helps to consolidate the piece. Painting into the sun creates its problems, with light changing by the minute but I was trying a system of mixed optical grey, it tends to restrain the colour so works well in this instance as the colour gets bleached out in this type of lighting situation with the sun popping in and out of the clouds.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Top of Lavington Hill - in progress

Oil on canvas 20" x 16" Working on  a larger format, 'en plein air'.
The edge of Salisbury plain, looking West, with strange light/colour effects in the sky ..... There's  a also a compositional challenge here ... I wanted to convey something of the richness of a roadside verge, some sunlight  hitting  a patch of brambles etc.. Below shows the progression of the work.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Copper Beech at Longleat

A  magnificent Copper Beech, by the car park near Heaven's Gate. Done in the last hour of fading light, I didn't quite catch the sense of light I wanted here, but somehow like the sense of 'attack' in this one. Oil on gesso panel 14" x 10".

Some Bach  to listen to ........  it helps my mental flow when working.

Jenny Asparro: Partitia no 2

Monday, July 11, 2011

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Design for a Roman style mural

Something completely different! I found this in a corner of the attic - one of two designs for an 8ft high building hoarding in North London in the area called 'Little Venice', near Regents Park Canal. This project was being planned for the hoarding of a large building site, just as the last recession hit in the early 1990's and the idea was suddenly scrapped.

 The second design, now lost, was quite different but more relevant to England; it was of a medieval type Gothic cloister, a row of wide pointed arches with pillar supports and a low wall between, (ie Salisbury Cathedral cloister, but less ornate), with views through the arches into a courtyard garden of green topiary shaped bushes and  glimpses of sculptures could be seen. I remember adding a Henry Moore style granite grey coloured statue, contrasting the medieval with something iconic of 20th century. A pity it is lost - anyway very different from the plein air work.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Cheddar Gorge with the UK Plein Air Society.

A day out painting at the Cheddar Gorge was scheduled for the UK Plein Air Society - we arrange to meet on the last Sunday of the Month, all plein air painters are welcome. Fellow painter Valerie Pirlot  and I travelled there together and  if you read her blog too you’ll  hear more of  the story of how we determinedly encouraged and cajoled  each other up the heights of the gorge  - it was very steep with heavy equipment, and the hottest day of the year.  After much climbing and  meeting decending walkers and being told it was another 15 mins to the very top, at 450ft above sea level, we went on ..... but suddenly got to a point (I guess about 350ft)where we sensibly realised any more walking in that heat and there’d be no energy to paint,  so we set up easels and got painting.

Above is my rendering of the view, over the town with the river Severn in the distance,  and a round reservoir spotted with tiny sails of people boating (they miraculously all disappeared at lunchtime - home for roast dinner - or BBQ -  then were suddenly back again in the afternoon). To our left we could see Glastonbury Tor about 9 miles away, no sound from the Festival though we listened  out for it.
Below, a photo of Valerie enjoying a well earned rest after her first painting, showing  the effect of the climb too ....
and one of me, still  hard at work, wishing I had a sun-umbrella too. 

On the way back down, with gravity on our side, we stopped for a shorter time to do another smaller painting. I settled to do an old dry stone wall falling down under a background of trees. it looked very 'Pyranese' and felt it in the heat.
We didn't manage to meet any of the other painters who may have turned up (Glynis Dray was one), so perhaps should be more proactive and exchange mobile numbers with those intending to come in the future.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Market Lavington, evening skies, with jet trails

Some recent evening skies from White Street Hill, at the edge of Salisbury Plain Escarpment - there's a great view North towards Devizes Bath and Chippenham. These paintings  have to be done at speed, the sky changing in minutes, in seconds even, and in five minutes can look totally different. So one arrives at an approximation of what one has seen over the brief time but really it is an attempt to try to catch the sensations of light.  It's interesting now these are laid out together, I can see certain effects working or not working so I might make minor changes to improve them.

No5.  This time used prussian blue in the lower landscape which  packs  a punch when it comes to rendering the  dark shadows.

No4 (below) One distant jet trail to the right of the sun.
No3 (below) 

No2 below) 


Sunday, May 15, 2011


All Saints Church, Steeple Ashton, over a new wheat field. (telephone lines now been added!). An impressive and ornate building for such a rural setting. I was aiming to catch something of the weather and light  this April 2011. We have had amazing weather, warmer and drier than any recorded previously since records began. "This good  weather  has lasted longer than any summer I can remember!" says my son. He can't be far wrong as far as UK sunshine goes.
You can see the unisual geological folds in the hills to the right above Westbury, and to the left these are the heights above Edington where King Alfred fought and beat the danes in 878 AD, in a final battle before making  peace.