Monday, October 29, 2012


The panel finally assembled. I'll try to post some details later.

........ more detail

Friday, October 26, 2012

Towards Bath, From Redhorn Hill

One of those amazing clouds (with a silver lining), the sun just behind it. on a very still evening in the summer, I just had time to paint it before it changed too much.
(9" x7" oil on gesso panel)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bristol Plein Air Meet -


Above Wayne AttwoodTom Hughes and Valerie Pirlot at work. It was  a stunning view working against the light.
Several of us met 'under the PAS Umbrella', in Bristol for the day on Saturday 29th Sept. (Thanks for reminding me Valerie)
I'd been very busy but decided to make the day out. It was a bright sunny day and perfect for the occasion. I arrived about  noon, a little late, just as people were putting finishing touches on their paintings of the Supension Bridge.
I did a rushed piece of the bridge view, but that needs a little more attention before I decide to post it. Sometimes rushed pieces are great, but this one perhaps not. In the afternoon we worked facing the North view.

It was  a great day, good company and cameraderie,  exchanging valuable painting and equipment tips  .......
i.e. Valerie's versatile adjustable painting transporter, and Tom's credit card paint scraper - ingenious. We ended up in a nearby pub in Clifton Village (having missed the last coffee shop) to discuss the day and agreed we should it again before too long.
Will try to add more photos later ....................

Painting after Titian

The White Horse Opera set painting project has come to an end and the show, La Traviata  (set in Paris 1910) started last night.   In addition to the 12 post impressionist paintings used to set the atmosphere of the scenes in the opera, I copied a Titain, "The Entombment, to hang in the lasts act as Violetta dies from consumption (happy stuff some operas, but fab music!).  In this final scene all the paintings are turned to the wall as her apartment is being closed due to her declining health and fortune. But this one painting can still be seen hanging.
The director had asked for a religious painting and I chose this, partly because I'd made a tiny copy of it years ago (about 6"x 8") and because it sets a suitable solemn and compassionate mood.

Titian's wonderful work, squared up for copying.

Initial drawing on  a rather blotchy overpainted ground. 
94cm x 64cm
 I had initially started painting very loosely recalling Ruben's method of putting in white impasto highlights early on, loosely applied. I went  a bit over the top, but was just experimenting and couldn't stop myself. It was  a mix of  home made Titanium white, some varnish binder (dammar maybe) in egg tempera mixture, which I'd  had in the freezer for years.

Starting the colour using oils. It was a pretty rough start causing a bit of difficulty later in taming it down.

So I  had to back pedal and wrestle with it a bit to bring in a bit more accuracy.
My more or less finished copy below, I can see lots still needs doing, but out of time but it and it does the job.

 I've always looked long and hard at Titian's work (and others) and  now realize I have been actually absorbing something and could begin to usefully use some of his methods from memory.  Being restricted by time, and not wanting  slavish copy but more capture a feeling of his style, perfect accuracy wasn't the goal.
To sum up .....One rarely gets a chance to copy an old master painting. After starting working from a book reproduction, I went to the National Gallery to look closely at the Titians and realized that it was essential to see how he built up the drawing and laid the paint on in various ways, scumbled layers and glazes etc. So when I returned I could see where I'd been going wrong, drawing rather dark hard lines instead of building up the drawing with softer siennas, particularly noticeable with his depiction of hands. The Madonna below is one of my most favourite paintings. Everything is so softly even blurrily painted, and the glazing like nothing else I've seen, so many thin colours blending and picking up the  canvas texture, particularly over the blue gown. Most of the shadow in the gown was added later in multiple glazes.
Virgin with Child (National Gallery)

 Some of Titian's later work can be  incredibly loose. ie "The Death of Actaeon" (National Gallery)

 But his earlier work is more precise combining a confident looseness juxtaposed with incredible delicacy, particularly in the drapery of the figures. One of the finest bits of painting is in the Bacchus and Ariadne painting (National Gallery) - in the lower LH corner is  a crumpled yellowish cloth with an urn tipped on it's side, engraved with his name. If you  can get there to see it take a look at the way that cloth is painted. No photos can really show that but here is the  detail to show one what to look for. One needs  to get up close as possible to see it, but stay behind the rope security!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I entered 2 paintings for the Bath Prize and this one below  won the 'Purchase Prize'. In this case the owners of the cafe in the Market had offered to buy the painting they liked best. Several people took on the challenge, and it was actually my stipulated place to paint so I had no option (in the competition, they assign each artist to a particular place, selected from about 35 locations around The City of Bath).

At the start I felt  a bit out of my element as I like painting in the open, but persevered, trying to capture something of the diffused but sometimes strong light in the  space, as the intensity of the sun waxed and waned through the day. This was done over two sessions, with the help of two double cappucion's kindly donated by Mike and Wendy.  (the injection of caffeine may have given me an unfair advantage - thankfully, there was  no caffeine test!:)
A view of the market below ....

 and many people enjoyed being photographed with the Queen :-)
Someone said  that if one patted the pig's nose, it brought luck. So I did later, quickly, feeling silly - but I won the prize so there you  go! Should have more faith

My other painting was done from Parade Gardens, below Poultney Bridge. Here is the first study under way, after starting I realized I needed  a wider format

The final painting below  felt a bit forced and I think the study had more life.