Saturday, 30 August 2014

Stowe House

I've been doing a spot of art residency with Stowe House in Buckinghamshire and recently spent a couple of enjoyable sessions painting the impressive Gothic Library (now the Headmaster's office). The staff were extremely accommodating in allowing me access and the space was also open to the public for the two days I was there. The house is the architectural focal point for Stowe School and the surrounding grounds which are owned by the National Trust.

The Gothic library was a treat to paint and I chose a position that would make the most of the interplay between the natural/artificial lighting and the distinctive maquettes which enhanced the sense of grandeur.

'The Gothic Library, Stowe House' - 20x26in, oil on board (click image to enlarge)

I was determined not to labour the painting and wanted to keep it nice and fresh whilst getting enough detail for everything to make sense. I thought the juxtaposition of the maquettes and lamps made a nice punchy rhythm and enhanced the feeling of space. The central uplighter was a real bonus, especially as it lit up the deep burgundy of the wall panel behind. The blue chair was a lovely colour and this worked well in the overall scheme too. Notice the sculpture of the Beatles on right...that was really fun to put in :)

I was fortunate to be able to work over two sessions and decided to use a bigger panel than I would normally work with on location. In this case it was 20x26in and I used the French half box easel for support (often this is too low for me with a smaller panel but with a bigger board it's less problematic).

In action and wearing my serious painting face!

I really hope I can get more opportunities to paint interior spaces. I haven't really tackled them since my university days and have got a real taste for it again. I'm certainly hoping to do more work with Stowe House, perhaps venturing into the grounds if the weather is behaving!

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