Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Weekend in Chelsea (Pintar Rapido)

This weekend I was in Chelsea taking part in 'Pintar Rapido'. It was an excellent event and great to meet up with friends/fellow artists for some plein air fun. I haven't painted in London for quite some time and it's as demanding as I remember....physically challenging with the humidity/heat and all the kit required for the event (I seem to have pulled back muscles from carrying all my clobber), plus the general mayhem of the London streets! Still, you go with it and there is actually quite a buzz to draw from which can feed into the work.

My first effort was done down by the Albert Bridge at Cadogen Pier, looking across the Thames with a nice variety of boats moored up for some sort of event. The light was generally flat with the odd glimpses of brief sunshine but at least that meant the conditions were reasonably steady. Certainly no sign of the torrential thunderstorms that were forecast on Saturday.

I enjoyed painting the reflections and paid particular attention to the tones and how they related to each other. Some nice notes of colour came from the boats with their flags, painted hulls and buoys. I tried to keep the distant trees and towers pushed back to give a bit of depth. This ended up being the painting I put into the exhibition which was held the following day (Sunday) at Chelsea Old Town Hall.


'Cadogen pier, Chelsea Embankment', 12x16in - oil on board (click to enlarge)

In the afternoon (and after a much needed lunch) I headed for a quieter square (Carlyle Square) with Tim King and painted along the terrace. We were lucky to find a shady spot and it was conveniently close to Pintar HQ at the Old Town Hall. The sun kept popping in and out which made it tricky but I settled on a 'sun out' subject to make the most of the light and shadow effects. Towards the end of the session I felt completely worn out but it was still nice to have a go at something different to the river.


'Carlyle Square, Chelsea', 12x16in - oil on board

There was a great buzz at the exhibition on the Sunday and it was very well attended. Here are a couple of shots from the show:


With my painting and admittedly looking a bit worn out!


The show inside Chelsea Town Hall, as seen from the front stage

I was lucky to be able to join David Bachmann and Paul Rafferty at a nearby cricket match for a quick sketch in the afternoon which was a real bonus too.


'Sunday cricket, Royal Hospital park - Chelsea', 8x16in - oil on board



Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Sheep and buttercups

I managed to catch this scene at Castlethorpe, just a few miles up the road from home in Stony Stratford. The sheep were very obliging and created nice shapes with the light coming from an angle behind. It was the field of buttercups that really grabbed my attention though. The yellow was so intense and I had to calm it down a bit. I still wonder if I could have taken it down a notch or two but it's quite nice to have a punchier colour statement for a change. I don't normally go for subjects with really wild colours but spring yellows are very uplifting. I made the most of the 'L' shape formed by the tree shadow and tried to place the sheep so they didn't look too arranged. It was nice to see them lounging around in the shade and this provided a variety of poses to make use of (I didn't want them all munching the grass!)

Painted a few weeks back, I was on the hunt for capturing a small slice of the essence of (late) Spring. Despite the tranquillity depicted, I was actually backed up to a busy road and the air was full of heavy bass from a music concert somewhere in Milton Keynes!



'Buttercup meadow, Castlethorpe', 10x14in - oil on board 

Another rural scene, this time by a canal at Braunston. I was lucky to find this barge parked up with some nice shadows across the footpath. Just an hour or so on this one before the light had changed and the boats had started to move.


'Barge at Braunston', 8x10in - oil on board

Thursday, 19 June 2014

A day in Portscatho

Last week I visited Portscatho on a hot and sunny day. I've been there before but it was a few years ago and thankfully little has changed! It's less touristy than other spots in south east Cornwall and it was nice to find some quiet places to pitch around the harbour. When the sun is out down there the colours are fantastic.


'Harbour sparkle, Portscatho' - 10x8in, oil on board

After the tide had receded (remarkably quickly) I fancied a study of the boats before the water went right out. The colours were superb and I wanted to keep them as fresh as possible in the painting. I must admit there was a lot of drawing to work out with the boats but I went straight in with the paint and aimed for an approximation rather than an exacting illustration. It was the punch of the colours and tones that I really wanted to focus on. Towards the end of the painting the tide and completely gone out and the boats were sitting on the sand but that was a handy point to tighten up a few key lines/edges and spots of detail. I do like the challenge of finding a satisfying arrangement from a jumble of boats and I moved one or two of the boats a bit to try and help the composition.


'Boats at rest, Portscatho' - 11x14in, oil on board

After a bit of welcome refreshment I finished off with a little sketch across the bay. It had to be small as I'd almost run out of titanium white! Again, I wanted to keep it clean and fresh and try to get close to something of the essence of the place.


'Portscatho beach', 6x8in, oil on board

On returning to Looe in the evening I thought I was done for the day but spotted this little boat subject with cracking reflections which I just couldn't resist. I'd left it about half an hour too late really but decided to get something down while I had the change. Within minutes of starting the light began to fade. The aim was to try and get a sense of the light/colours and then perhaps use this as the basis for something in the studio later on.


'Boats at Looe, evening light', 10x9in, oil on board