Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Head spin

I've not posted for a while, primarily as I'm currently laid up with a nasty little virus that causes vertigo/sickness and a few other things. I think the worst thing is the vertigo though which, at its worst, makes you feel like you're on a horrible fairground ride that you can't get off...even when you're lying still. Sheeesh, all down to some little blighters in the inner ear apparently! Anyway, thought I'd try posting something because daytime TV is driving me nuts!! Here's a little evening study I did about 12 days ago after work as the light was fading. The cows were all gathered round at the start but by the time I'd finished they'd disappeared, along with the sun. I barely got 30 minutes on this little 6x8 but it was still worth it, I think!

Admittedly, it lacks detail and refinement but I was more interested in quality of light and judging the tones/temperatures. Let's call it a sketch...yes...that's what it is. If you squint at it the basics do seem to hold together. Couldn't really expect much more in half and hour or so I guess. I think it might have been Ken Howard who said that the best paintings can seem to emit their own light. Not an easy thing to do with pigment but relatively speaking I guess we can arrive at an equivalent if we get things 'right'.

Below....nice to be the centre of attention for a moment...even if the audience is a bunch of cows :o) I swear the light coloured one was trying to challenge me to a stare out. See the slash of light at the top, that's what I wanted to get down before it faded. The scene I chose was just to the left of this view. No time to dither!

Below is the scene after about 35 minutes.....where's the light....where's the cows....something I said?


  1. Hi David.
    This is A lovely painting, I love it, well done.
    Sorry to hear about your Vertigo. I had it years ago so I know what you are going through. Get well soon and all the best.

  2. Thanks Vic, that's very kind of you :o) Another person who's had this darn thing.....I'm amazed to be finding out how common it appears to be! Funny, I always thought vertigo was just a fear of heights. Not any more!

  3. Absolutely love it! One of my favourite David. Probably because it's - what you call - "unfinished" or "sketchy" but this is the stage where it's at its best for me, where you can really see the style and signature brushstrokes of the painter and this one is certainly a typical "Pilgrim" ;) Amazing light, I think you did manage to make it emit its own light, maybe helped by the warm pink background still showing through. Hope you get better soon.

  4. Thanks Valerie, much appreciated. Yes, I think it takes some discipline to leave a painting in a 'sketchy' state. Sometimes I connect, sometimes not, but when it does happen it seems that less can be more. It's interesting you mention the brushstrokes. In the heat of the moment you tend to do more instinctive things with the brush. I certainly find it trickier in the studio where there's more time to reflect on every move. The background was a warmish light brown but I scrubbed in the trees and grass with a thin wash of a cool red/pink mix to give a bit of vibration within the greens. It's easy to let the red show through too much (as I've done on several occasions) but I think I just about got away with it here :o)

  5. Stunning work - both you and Antony Bridge (Malvern) have the ability to capture that magical mist, both of heat, autumn and of cold. It feels like a glaze, not of paint but of temperature. I am having a touch of envy at this moment.
    I have only had the virus once but when people say 'what goes up must come down' that's fine if you know where those places are, or even might be.

  6. That's very kind of you Gary, thanks! In more recent times I've become more and more aware of the importance of colour temperature, especially in scenes like this where the interplay between warm and cool colour is a key feature. I find it interesting how things can look relatively authentic by just pitching the tone the and temperature at the right sort of range.

    As for the vertigo, all I can say is that what went down certainly came back up in my case. Perhaps best not to dwell on that too much though! I always thought it was a fear of heights but not any more, that's for sure!

  7. David , I'm so sorry you have been ill. It sounds terrible. I quite agree with you about the quality of television programs in the day time. also the advertising here during that time is mostly lawyers trying to get people to file lawsuits. I don't know who the regular viewers are of these programs but it's sure not me.
    Valerie is quite right in her comments. I love what you all call the "sketchy" state. I think paintings like that are much more interesting to look at as they require the viewer to take part in interpreting the subject. The artist doesnt just lay everything out. It is a lot easier to overwork a painting than to recognize the beauty of ones own work in that state, even though we can often recognize it in other's work.

  8. Thanks Douglas! Our diet of daytime TV seems to be dominated by property/antique hunting and cheesy chat shows. Throw in a few dollops of Columbo and you'll start to get the picture :o) The vertigo as stopped me watching too much of it....perhaps the only plus I can think of at present!

    Yes, overworking is always a danger in the studio for some reason. I sometimes wish I had an 'undo' button :o) The thing is though, we ought not to become inhibited so that we almost fear putting down a stroke (I've been there, believe me). Unless we're working to a specific formula or method I suppose there is always going to be an element of uncertainty in the work we produce. Ken Howard amusingly uses the phrase 'finishing off' a painting whereby the artist pretty much kills the work through continued tinkering (as opposed to 'finishing' or rather completing the piece). How many times do we say to ourselves 'I just need to finish that painting off' :o)

  9. David, looks great, you have really caught the atmosphere and light. I think plein air should often be thought of as 'study sketch', not finished work. I spent several days chasing around after horses with my sketchbook in Turkey a couple of years ago, moving animals are infuriatingly difficult to draw, but there seem to be really familiar and repetitive shapes the more you look... I seem to remember thinking at the time.

  10. Thanks Ian. Yes, I like the challenge of painting animals. For me, I try to tune into the basics (shape, tone, colour) and translate that into some sort of equivalent in paint. You're quite right, if one moves chances are there'll be another one in the same sort of pose. I enjoy drawing ducks and swans...they have lovely, distinctive shapes which start to make sense after tuning in for a while. I think if they were still for too long I'd probably end up fussing with the drawing and end up losing that spontaneous feeling.