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!
With so much happening at the moment it’s not easy to remember everything I need to say, so chaos is reigning here. My exhibition Arabian Light, which launched my new book of the same name, has ended at the excellent Osborne Studio Gallery in London, and it was a great success – quite a relief during these straightened times!
I shall be continuing with the same theme during my Webinar for Painters-online where you can book a place. It takes place at 11am on Tuesday 21st June, and I shall be painting a view of the River Nile in evening light with an interesting sky and lots of atmosphere. You are welcome to ask questions during the event.
Arabian Light is not a practical guide, but is packed with sketches and watercolours from the Middle East, with lots of colour, and shows how I approach working on location. Signed copies are available from my website
I recently dropped some new paintings in to the Waterfront Gallery in Milford Haven (tel. 01646 695699), which is right on the quayside opposite the marina. They include one of St Govan’s Chapel viewed from across the bay from St Govan’s Head.
This shows the main part of the composition, the chapel caught in strong sunshine while mist is rising over the backgroiund cliff. Most of the rocks in sunlight have been left as white paper and lacking in detail, while those in shadow stand out in contrasting tones. It is the cast shadow that emphasises the effect of sunlight, further accentuated by the dark foreground rock structures.
In any painting, if you include everything you see the result will just be an overworked photographic version. While some people appreciate this approach, most see the benefit of ‘editing’ the image to produce a cleaner, more atmospheric and painterly work. One of the most important aspects of my creative process is that of using atmosphere and the ‘lost and found’ technique to heighten the effect of a moody scene.
This watercolour of the tombs of the caliphs in Cairo shows the scene bathed in warm evening light after the sun has set, using the atmosphere to completely eliminate any detail in the distance, while also subduing much of the architectural information on the main buildings. Not only does the rising smoke hide much detail, but the lost and found effect can be observed further to the left where some of the elements have been faded out. You can achieve this by deliberately reducing the detail until that passage becomes almost blank, or another extremely effective method is to simply paint in the main architectural features as normal, and when this is dry fade part of it out with a damp sponge or by lightly scrubbing out with an old soft-haired brush. I shall be painting a similar scene to this as a demonstration at The Bookshop in East Grinstead at 7pm on Thursday 19th May. It is pretty much fully booked, but because of Covid there are likely to be a number of cancellations, so it might be worth telephoning the bookshop on 01342 322669 They will, of course, have copies of my new Arabian Light book. The exhibition of the same name will be continuing from 18th to 27th May at the Osborne Studio Gallery in London Tel. 020 7235 9667, where you can see the paintings from the book. Watch out also in Leisure Painter Magazine for my on-line webinar on 21st June where I will be painting a sunset scene on the River Nile – more about that in due course.