Morocco art competition – Final stage

My entry for the Cox & Kings competition is finished.The final stage of any painting is a dangerous time. The temptation to put in every detail is great but it must be resisted. In the photograph which I posted on 28th October, (you can see this if you scroll back through my blog) there were a lot of trees and bushes so these have to be simplified. Also the hillsides were dotted with scrubby bushes but to include all of those would be spotty and distracting.

morocco stage5asm

There was no obvious pathway leading the eye into the painting so I created one that led towards my focal point, the building. I had moved the building closer to the wadi so that it fell in a more pleasing location, directly below the main peak of the mountain and within the Golden Section. The strongest tonal contrast is on the building and I have added a figure, a Berber woman in bright clothing which I had found in my 1993 Morocco sketchbook.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this exercise and I want to thank Katie Parsons of Cox and Kings for inviting me to take part. It was the incentive I needed to get painting again after a long absence.  I wish my fellow competitors good luck.

Stage 4 of my competition entry

I have made further progress on my painting for the Cox & Kings Morocco competition: The middle distance in a landscape painting is often a tricky area to tackle. It’s important to keep in mind the relative size of features compared to the foreground such as trees and bushes;   the colour temperature must be carefully controlled;  and we must resist the temptation to render too much detail to features that are distant.

morocco stage4

Stage 4 – middle distance

In the photograph there were very strong, sharply defined cloud shadows on the hills on the right and initially I painted these in as they were in the photograph but I quickly realised that they were drawing the eye too much and would compete with my focal point so I softened them considerably. The hills on the left were lighter in tone with less tonal contrast so there was no need to soften them too much.

The next stage will be the focal point, the building, and the foreground. See you in a few days.


Stage 2 & 3 of my competition entry

Yesterday I made more progress on my painting for the Cox & Kings Morocco competition: Stage 2 – Sky: When painting landscapes, I generally work from the top of a painting downwards. This serves two purposes. Firstly it helps prevent the heel of your hand smudging the work where it rests on the support and secondly it helps create a sense of recession. If you think of the landscape in terms of distance, the objects farthest away are usually lighter in tone, cooler in colour and less distinct. Translating this into the painting process means that you use paler, cooler colours in the distance and less detail. By working down the support you can remember that meme in your choice of colour and tone.

morocco stage2

Stage 2 – Sky

Stage 3 – The mountains: The sky was painted down over the drawn lines that defined the mountain tops. This is to ensure that there are no gaps between the sky and mountains and also to give the impression that the sky is, in effect, behind the mountains. Sticking to cooler colours and pale tones, the mountains are painted with sharp edges in places and softer edges in others so that there is not a hard line all the way across the painting. Soft edged cloud shadows helps define the ridges.

morocco stage3csm (1)

Stage 3 – the mountains

The next step will be coming soon.

Stage 1 of my competition entry

In my last post I undertook to keep you up to date with the progress of my competition entry for the Cox & Kings Morocco Art competition. I discussed some of my first thoughts on the treatment of the subject in the previous post and as you can see from the initial drawing I have moved the small building on the right towards the centre a little and given it more prominence so that it will act as a focal point.

Stage 1 - initial drawing

Stage 1 – initial drawing

My next consideration will be the treatment of the sky which will set the mood of the whole painting. The atmosphere in the photograph hardly needs changing but I need to simplify the clouds and to reduce the prominence of the distant mountain range which could form a strong line across the painting if I am not careful. I also want to make the most of the cloud shadow on the low hills in the middle distance to emphasize the building.

I will post the next step in a few days.

Back in the Saddle

As many of you know, this summer I have been recovering from an operation. I am doing really well now and almost back to normal. I want to thank you all for your kind wishes over the past months. Unfortunately, my painting has been sadly neglected during this time but I can feel the stirrings of inspiration starting again and the autumn colours are tempting me out to sketch.

Fortuitously, only a week ago, I was invited by Cox & Kings to take part in their Morocco Art competition along with four other artists and this has given me the impetus I need to get painting again. I travelled to Morocco with David in 1993 and was captivated by the sumptuous colour in Marrakesh, the fascinating culture of the Berber tribes, the architecture, from Mosaic Palaces to mud brick dwellings, and the magnificent mountain scenery of the Atlas Mountains.  Really looking forward to a chance to win one of Cox & Kings’ Morocco holidays.

So where to begin? I have chosen the scene below of the Atlas Mountains with a scattering of buildings. The first step is to start planning my treatment of the subject. My initial thoughts are that the atmosphere and colour of the photograph below will hardly need any adjustment but I want to bring the low building on the right more towards the centre of the painting to make a more satisfying composition and to provide me with a focal point. I have not started on the painting yet so I will post some of the stages as I proceed, so that you can share the experience with me. This is a high risk strategy for my reputation and if it all goes horribly wrong you will, hopefully, be encouraged to take risks with your own painting.

Errachidia, Morocco

Errachidia, Morocco (Photo)

I will post the first stage soon. I wish my fellow competition entrants, Concetta Perôt, Alan Reed, Vandy Massey and Kim Dellow, good luck.