Tuesday, 15 March 2011

A day out in Oxford

On Saturday I headed to Oxford and was delighted to be joined by my friend Tim King. It makes quite a difference when you're out there with a fellow painter. Thankfully the sun was out and the place was teaming with tourists and visitors collecting students for the end of term. I think we chose one of the busiest spots in the city for the first piece, outside the gates of Trinity College. I found a nice angle looking across the road with Tim painting at the foot of the gates. The sun kept bobbing in and out but it didn't seem too bad with the easel umbrella providing shade for the work surface (otherwise the sun would have been fully on the painting). This is me painting the scene ( I had to stoop under the umbrella which was a tad tricky)

 and this is Tim across the road...the view I was looking at

 and with the sun out towards the end (by which time Tim had decided to start painting me painting him!)

The painting ended up like this

After some refreshments we then wandered around looking for somewhere a bit quieter. We eventually stumbled across a little back street near Pembroke college (Pembroke Square). It's just of the main street near the entrance to Christ Church college.I liked the light through a thin little alley and Tim fancied the view towards the main street with me painting in the foreground. It was a tricky subject as the light started to fade quite rapidly and I was feeling a bit tired. This is me setting up

and this was the view of the alley

I wish I'd included the red face of the foreground wall as I think it adds an interesting note of colour but at the time I was focused on the shapes created by the light bouncing onto the wall. I also wanted to say something about the amazing window on what I assume is Pembroke College in the distance. Here's how it ended up after about 90 mins (sorry about the glare on the drainpipe which is actually darker).

The leaning wall was quite a feature and made it feel much less contrived. Otherwise I suspect there would have been too many repititions of rectangles. This is why painting older cities is such a treat and even more so when you can do it alongside a painting buddy. It's hard to say whether what you've captured has hit the mark but one can only set up, have a go and enjoy being there in the moment. That's what it's all about for me.


  1. David, I love your art work. You draw it accurately and then when you paint it and your edges and color are spot on. I just finished a three day workshop with one of your fellow English artists here in America,Jill Carver. She is a rising star here in the States.The topic was painting buildings. Too bad she couldn't have brought some of your English architecture for us to paint.
    I notice you paint with a French easel, I used one of those for a while but was always losing the screws and other hardware. How do you like it?

  2. Thanks Douglas :o) Yes, I've come across jill's work and it is fabulous. What sort of architecture did you paint? I've always enjoyed painting buildings. They are a great vehicle for using geometry and light. I want to try to do a few bigger ones on location so I'll probably stick with the French easel (half box) for those. I sometimes use the pochade too if I'm working smaller (up to 11x14). I use a Julian half box and it's pretty good reall. Sturdy and very hard wood with a nice metal lined paint box. I usually tie a shoelace around it as I don't entirely trust the clips when carrying it around. Other than that I'd recommend it. I've not really had problems with screws. It seems well crafted/engineered but I wouldn't want to carry it for miles because of the weight.

  3. Brilliant work Dave! Just love your colour variations!
    What size are they?

  4. Thanks Adebanji! Yes, I wanted to push the colours a bit more this time and avoid the dreaded 'veil of drabness' as I tend to call it! The sun kept popping in and out which made it tricky but as you well know, once you're in full flow these things can be overcome! They're not huge but no tiddlers either. The one at Trinity is 11x14 and the one of Pembroke is roughly 10x16. Hoping to head back there again soon. I'd thoroughly recommend it as a plein air venue. It's so good to be out painting since the studio work has been a bit of a tussle recently.