My exhibition at Erwood Station was a great success with sales, interest and raising money for the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales,although the initial part proved a little difficult as I was under the weather for a while. It’s great to have exhibitions in the major galleries, but this time I was really happy to do something locally.
Erwood Station will continue displaying some of my work, and it’s a lovely place to visit.The scene I am showing today is a watercolour of the Brecon Beacons where I have used lighting effects to create interest. Before carrying out a painting it really helps if you consider your ligting arrangement beforehand. This particular composition shows quite complicated lighting areas, and for this I did a preliminary studio sketch with emphasis on the tonal values of the various passages. Normally I prefer to let the main light flood over the focal point – in this case the farmhouse and outbuildings, but I strayed from the norm here by keeping an area of light in the middle distance, beyond the farm, with the farm itself not especially well-lit. Trying new variations from your usual approach can be exciting and lead to interesting effects. The light on the background peaks provides variation, though I did not want this to compete too strongly with the focal point. I love interesting skies and sometimes indulge in cloud-watching for some time, and although this composition could well have been served effectively with a simple sky, I often can’t resist working up a cloud mass that contains a striking patch of light as in this case. Do take time to consider your lighting treatment in your painting as it can make a terrific difference to a work.
It was something of a relief to learn that my blog post of last week had worked, and many thanks to those of you who confirmed you had received the post and image OK. Anyway, I’m doing my best now to make sure that things get back to normal.
The image this time is another view of the River Wye, which like many of our rivers desperately needs help to stop the ongoing pollution caused by intensive poultry farming, and sewage release. For this painting I chose Waterford rough paper to emphasise the ragged edges of the fast-flowing water and in particular to achieve the interesting texture on the large rock at the bottom left-hand corner. I brought the sky wash of cobalt blue down over the rock, weakly at this point, and when this was dry I smothered much of the rock, apart from where the light was catching the top, with strong yellow ochre, using the side of a no. 10 round sable to create a broken wash. Again, I let this dry and then introduced the green parts to suggest moss. For this I used a mixture of green apatite genuine and yellow ochre, again spreading it with the side of the brush. Finally, once that had dried I took a fine-pointed no. 6 sable and drew in the crevices with a mixture of burnt umber and French ultramarine. The painting is part of my exhibition of paintings of the Wye at Erwood Station Gallery & Craft Centre from 23rd September to Sunday 15th October and is open daily. On 23rd and 24th September there will be many eco-based activities at the Centre, and on the Sunday, which is World Rivers Day, the Goddess of the Wye will be entertaining. Erwood Station is a lovely location a few miles south of Builth Wells, just off the A470, a much-loved venue in the heart of beautiful scenery. On Monday 25th September I shall be giving a watercolour demonstration on painting the Wye at the Centre, and will be covering techniques for capturing running water, sparkling water, placid water with reflections, and of course rocks, trees and the atmosphere. This is a ticket-only event with proceeds going to the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales who will also be putting on a display of their work to protect our rivers. The demo starts at 7pm and tickets and information can be obtained from 01982 560555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s been some time since I last created a blog post – the problem has been that the Blogspot blogging software appears to have been crapulated by the blogging company without warning or providing any idea of how to fix it. The pictures simply appear as a string of incomprehensible characters, which of course, is not what you would want to see. Additionally I have been away from home a lot this summer, but now we’re trying to fix it.
The image I have before me is an 8-line string of characters, but I am hoping that the resulting image on your screens will be a watercolour of the River Wye in Summer. The mountain and water have been kept simple, the more distant water a horizontal sweep of cobalt blue with very little water on the brush, softening down into a light area, with some dark reflections introduced at the sides. The dark tones on the closer trees suggest the impression of distance in the composition. I have over-done the foreground flower collection a bit, but sometimes it is interesting to include strong detail in the foreground when most of the composition is quite simple. The painting will be part of a small exhibition at Erwood Station Gallery & Craft Centre, which lies a few miles south of Builth Wells in Powys. It starts on Saturday 23rd September and runs until 15th October, every day. I shall be giving a demonstration of painting the Wye in watercolour on Monday 25th September at 7pm, admission by ticket only because of limited space. Telephone 01982 560555 for the Centre. More details with the next blog which hopefully will have all the problems resolved, although at the moment I’m more inclined to believe in magic than these software geeks!
One event in the year that I especially look forward to is the Patchings Art Festival, and I shall be demonstrating there once more on the fabulous Saunders Waterford and Bockingford papers, in the St Cuthberts Mill marquee on the mornings of 13th, 14th and 15th July. If you’ve never been, do treat yourself this year as it is a terrific show in lovely surroundings, and overflowing with artists demonstrating their various styles. There’s no place quite like it for being supercharged with artistic inspiration!
This is just part of a small watercolour as I want to highlight more of the detail, and some of the techniques used I will be showing at Patchings. The moody background was created with the wet-into-wet method, with the whole of the background carried out with just burnt umber. Whilst the wash was still wet I suggested the trees with a rigger, the larger ones with a number 4 brush, and with hardly any water on the brush – almost pure paint so that it did not run. Naturally I test it on the side first to check if the timing is right.
On this side of the bridge I introduced other colours: yellow ochre, cadmium red and French ultramarine. My aim was to keep the colours in harmony, all in the brown-ochre segment of the colour wheel. The ultramarine, of course is not in that category, but I’ve mixed it in such a way that it is simply darkening the effect with burnt umber, and not displaying any sign of its blueness. Adopting this approach will give your work a great feeling of unity.
I hope to see you at Patchings in July and for further information on the Patchings festival check out these links:
There is something about the old stone bridges scattered about the mountain regions worldwide that feels such an idyllic subject for the landscape artist. The one I am featuring today stands on the River Artro in Snowdonia, a quiet, heavenly spot that has a calming influence on the mind. I have painted it a few times, and this view is looking upstream with light filtering through the trees.
The overwhelming greens in the top half of the composition have been tempered by the mixtures of French ultramarine and cadmium red in the lower segment, often with yellow ochre dropped in while the passage was wet. The contrasting effect of tall dark tree-trunks on the left, with the negative painting of the trunks of those saplings on the right helps to provide balance. The river naturally leads the eye up to the bridge, and I have kept the foreground water calm and lacking in detail in order to throw the emphasis on that which is closer to the bridge. The soft, blurred effect of the background trees also helps to accentuate the stronger lines of the bridge, and I have considerably reduced the number of trees in the scene.
I am delighted to say that the painting now hangs on display in Erwood Station art and craft gallery, which has just opened again, and very much in the manner of my dear friend Alan Cunningham who built it up into a highly popular venue, but who sadly passed away many years ago. It was quite an emotional moment to be invited back by Jenny, the new proprietor of the place that brings back so many happy memories. There are works by several artists and some of the most delightful crafts by talented local makers, as well as a terrific tea shop once again, and a beautiful river walk beside the Wye, so do drop in – it’s about 8 miles south of Builth Wells, just off the A470, telephone 07584 258947.
Finally, I’m so sorry I’ve been off the air for so long, but I went down with the ‘flu in December when I was about to send out a Christmas message, and so missed seeing the family over Christmas, including Catherine’s amazing performance as the Genie in Aladdin at East Grinstead. It took a while to get over it, and in mid-January I set off for northern Italy to explore the Alpine scenery around the Aosta Valley, though still not in perfect trim. However, it proved to be a spectacular trip and I will be covering it in my next blog. In the meantime I hope you are all making the most of this absolutely beautiful weather for sketching landscapes.