Thursday, 20 December 2012

ROI paint evening

Monday night was the ROI annual paint evening at the Mall Galleries in London and I have to say it was a cracking event! It's a very popular night and once again the place was packed out with artists who were there to paint along with many people who just love to come along, see the artists at work and enjoy the friendly atmosphere. There's also the added bonus of being able to look at all the paintings in the annual show in a bit more detail.

Lots of ROI members were there and it was also good to see friends including Haidee-Jo Summers who I am delighted to report won the 'Best painting' prize! I enjoyed talking to familiar faces and those who I'd never met before. So many fine paintings, so many different styles...loose, detailed, zoomed, panoramic, expressive, bold, sensitive, subdued, colourful...great to see them all! There's a real creative energy and buzz to the night. The 125th annual exhibition for the Royal Institute of Oil Painters runs until 1pm on Sunday 23rd at the Mall Galleries, London. 

Yours truly with my loose study of Sophie who is 6 months pregnant and modelled flawlessly!

'Sophie Edkins Blackett, study at 6 months pregnant', 12x16in, oil on board by David Pilgrim.

My painting above evolved in a sketchy manner but I liked the effect and decided to stick with it, resisting the temptation to fiddle too much and focusing on the overall harmony of shapes, tones and colours. I enjoyed the pose and it made a nice change from just painting the head and shoulders.

Two more good friends, Haidee-Jo Summers, painting her winning painting alongside Adebanji Alade (Prov ROI) who painted a lovely piece (wish I'd got a closer shot of it!)

Haidee-Jo, alongisde the model and her superb winning painting. 

Graham Webber, prize winner from the main ROI show, with a very sensitive study of the surroundings

Natalia Avdeeva (Prov ROI) with her lovely interior piece that had some wonderful colours

My good pal Tim King with a his super study that capture the essence of 'Lewis'

Lachlan Goudie (Prov ROI), merrily painting (note the empty wine glass on his easel!)

Tim Benson (ROI) producing a fine, energetic piece with luscious brushmarks!

My palette....with a complimentary mince pie to tuck into

As you can see, it was pretty packed with three models to choose from.

On the way I passed a primary school choir singing carols in Trafalgar Square and I managed to catch a verse on my camera. Very atmospheric!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Venice part 2

We did get have a a day or so of sun but the light moved quickly on the short winter days. No time to hang about then!

'Late afternoon, Fondamenta Venier Sebastiano', oil on board, 10x8in
The one above was painted at speed as the shadow from the sun crept up the buildings. I really loved the scene as it had so much going for it...the warm/cool contrast of light, water, boats, people and a leaning church tower (not a mistake with my verticals I hasten to add!).

'Across the Grand Canal from Fondamenta Salute', oil on board, 8x10in
I painted this one above alongside Tim in the shadow of the Salute (a handy sun sheild for our boards). Usually, you get sparkle on the water when looking against the light overhead but in this instance the sparkles seemed to be reflecting back off ripples that were facing the light behind us. It was enough to draw us in but the sparkle didn't last long. Those windows on a small scale can be darn fiddly.

'Fast fading light, Salute Maria della Salute', oil on board, 6x8in
This little study was done at breakneck speed, probably 30 mins or so but I think it caught the atmosphere even if it might seem a but scruffy in parts. I was all painted out after working since dawn but thought it was worth a shot as I was in the perfect spot on the Accademia bridge. I loved the way the faint line of lights on the horizon softly emerged through the distant veil of fog.

'Fog from the Accadmemia bridge', oil on board, 10x8in
'Fog, Salute Maria della Salute from the Accademia bridge', oil on board, 6x8in
'Ponte Di Traverso',  oil on board, 10x8in
'Lantern seller, Rialto', oil on board, 8x10in
'Early light, St Giorgio from the Dogana', oil on board, 4x8in
And so ends another fantastic trip. Roll on the next one I say. I feel like I've barely even got started in Venice! Great fun, a mixed bag of paintings...some better than or two wipers but that's the way it goes working plein air (for me anyway). One hit is all you get but a darn good feeling if it comes off the middle of the bat :)
Tim, Haidee, me and Valerie in front of the acqua alta which arrived on our last day.

Delicious cakes and hot chocolates served on every corner!
As we were leaving, Tim couldn't resist a farewell (and rather accomplished I might add) blast on the harmonica, much to the amusement and delight of all the passengers.



Venice - Piazza San Marco

I recently returned from a fabuloso trip to Venice with a crew of painting pals. It's an incredible place and despite the fog, rain, floods and hoardes of tourists we all had a great time painting what has to be one of the most beautiful cities on the planet!

The roll call of plein air painters included Tim King, Haidee-Jo Summers, Valerie Pirlot, Karl Terry, David Bachman, Chris Daynes, Tony Dakin, Stuart Fullerton, Roy Connelly, Mike Richardson, Sidney Cardew, Eric (from Seville). I think that's everyone...hope I haven't left anyone off the list!

Venice is always a challenge and real test in terms of drawing, judging tones/values and many other painterly matters. I wanted to try and get to the 'essence' of the subjects and focus on the essentials without getting too distracted by fussy details. I remember discussing this with Tim on one of the Vaporetti, with Haidee and Valerie somewhat amused by our talk of the 'DEADLY fine line' between too much and too little detail. Dangerous sport this painting lark :)

Anyway, to the paintings. I've already started a larger studio version (18x24in) of the study below whilst it's all fresh in my mind! It's useful to have studied the facade of the Basilica a few times now and I can get a feel for the shapes. I love the way you get warm light reflecting up into the arches. The challenge will be to retain the energy of the location study in the studio piece....never easy! It was one of the few clearer days and as a result had a wider tonal range and more vibrant colours.

'Late morning, Piazza San Marco', oil on board, 10x13in (click images to enlarge)

Another one that seemed to work out OK was this wide view of St Mark's in the fog. A much more muted affair, I really tried hard to keep that 'envelope' of atmosphere in the murky haze. Although the fog obscures many views it can also add a unique atmosphere to certain subjects that you don't see very often. I'm tempted to have a go at a larger one of this one too....why not indeed!

'Fog, Piazza San Marco', oil on board, 7.5x15in
At certain points (and much to the amusment of onlookers) I couldn't see St Mark's at all!

I painted the one below of St Mark's on the back of a morning spent slaving over a couple of wipers. My excuse, me lud, being that I was rather wet and tired! Not sure about the figures but the rest seems to hold up. As with the fog, the tonal range seems to get compressed and I wanted to make use of the reflection of St Mark's in the Piazza. I enjoyed making use of the Campanile, which I avoided on the last trip. I found it quite jarring at first but it actually brings a nice note of colour and vertical structure, as do the flag poles.
'Rain, Piazza San Marco', oil on board, 10x13in
The light was quite flat but I quite liked the geometric arrangments and very subtle, pastel like shades in the next piece. Deceptively difficult in many ways...plenty of drawing whilst trying to retain some sense of colour harmony and depth. A enjoyable challenge nevertheless :)
'Side of St Mark's', 10x8, oil on board
This little study of the corner of St Mark's was done in the dense fog. Flirting dangerously with the 'veil of drabness', it was virtually monochromatic.
'Corner of St Mark's', 10x8, oil on board
David Bachman in the foggy Piazza

Mike Richardson, smiling for the tourists :)

Valerie, somwhere to be found amongst the flocks of tourists and pigeons!
Haidee-Jo, working on her masterpiece of the famous Florian's cafe!

Stuart Fullerton, happily painting, whatever the weather.

Detail of St Marks.

Entrance to St Marks, acqua alta.

And so the night shift begins for Roy Connelly and the other nocturne hunters.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Allotments and beyond

I've had a few studio sessions recently and have been attempting to work up a couple of the allotment studies to a slightly bigger scale (nothing too big mind!). Here is another location study, 10x8 in, done about 3 weeks ago down at Wing allotments (not a great photo but gives an idea).

Sunshine and smoke, Wing allotments - 10x8in, oil on board
I love all the random jumble of allotments and trying to make some visual sense of it all. There are so many 'props' to work with, coloured netting, plastic sheets, sheds, canes, tubs...and that's before you even get to the plants! There was a chap with a red jumper just pottering around which brought a nice note of colour. In the distance someone had a bonfire which often happens on allotments. The problem is I usually choose a pitch that's downwind from the smoke and this time was no exception. Still, worth putting up with if you don't end up coming home with a 'wiper'. I wasn't sure whether to put the smoke in as it was already quite a busy subject but I couldn't resist and I think it adds to the story of the scene. 

I'm currently showing 11 plein air paintings with the Plein Air Brotherhood as part of our annual exhibition being held A&K Wilson gallery in Harpenden. The exhibition runs until the end of October and a few of the artists headed down to the Harpenden for a spot of plein air action last Saturday (6th). This week it's the opening of the RSMA annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London in which I've got two paintings on show. Looking forward to seeing the show and meeting artists/friends at the private view.

After that attention will turn to ROI submissions as the hand in date fast approaches! Then there's the Venice trip to look forward to....very excited about that :)

A few of my paintings currently on show in Harpenden....

Old Harry and his wife, Dorset - 8x16in, oil on board

Storm Brewing - 5x7in, oil on board (sold)

Towards Pendeen lighthouse from Levant - 10x13in, oil on board

Enys, Pendeen - 10x12in, oil on board

Warm haze, Emberton - 5x10in, oil on board

Gates of Trinity, Oxford - 10x13in, oil on board (sold)
Some action shots from the Harpenden....
Some of the crew - Adebanj Alade, muggins, Karl Terry and Roy Connelly

Karl Terry with one of his gems

Roy Connelly takes a fancy to the local chip shop
Finally, I would just like to say a few words in tribute to my Uncle Nigel who very sadly passed away recently. It was a huge and terrible shock to the family. He was a kind and loving uncle to me and took an active interest in my painting. I was so chuffed that he not only enjoyed but keenly followed my work and that he got a real pleasure from having my paintings on his wall, particularly my painting of Trebarwith Strand. We both shared a love of Cornwall! It means a lot to know that your work touches people, especially more so when it's a member of the family. 

Monday, 17 September 2012

Flower power

I don't seem to have posted much up for a while. I've been trying to squeeze in some plein air sessions when I can along with a few encounters in the studio. A mixed bag of results but I've enjoyed visiting one or two spots at local allotments and even found a nice display of flowers to paint on the campus at work on my day off (quite strange being there when there's almost nobody around). Anyway, to the paintings. If my studio efforts lead to something worth keeping I'll post them up. In the meantime, a few plein air pieces (click to enlarge)

Wild flower display, OU campus (oil on board 8x16in)

Wild flowers, OU campus (oil on board 10x13in)
Both of the above were done on the campus at work where there has been an incredible display of wild flowers as part of a newt 'hiberaculum' for a protected colony of the great crested newt. I really wanted to get an interesting abstract design using the colours and rhythms of the flowers and avoid getting too much detail (which could lead to something horrifyingly twee). It's tricky as there's not much structure to work with but the subject was too good to resist. I think the top one works a bit better (the brushstrokes seem more dynamic) and I might be tempted to do something bigger in the studio with the aim of really letting go with some strokes of colour :)
At the allotments I've had one or two fruitful sessions with the odd turnip too :) After one session at New Bradwell allotments I was chuffed to be rewarded with a bag full of runner beans from a kind plot holder. I now have a freezer drawer full for the winter!
Allotments, New Bradwell (oil on board 11x14in)
Whilst painting the one above I was accompanied by a cockerel which had a home behind the fence about 2 metres away. Don't start me on cockerels! Anyway, the light kept changing...sun in and out but I found some sort of happy medium in the end. I liked the jumble of stuctures amongst all the vegetation.

Sunflower 'totem', allotments at Wing (10x13in - oil on board)
This one was done in the midday sun and I persuaded a plot holder to let me in so that I could bag what seemed like the best spot. He told me what all the plants were and I can't remember any of them apart from the sunflowers! The composters were known as the 'Daleks' and the tall green plant on the left was about 2 metres further to the left but I decided to use it to improve the composition and contrast against the dark trees behind.
Stoke Bruerne lock (oil on board, 11x14in)
This was quite a complicated subject and because there was a lot happening in the scene I opted for a bigger board (11x14 is one of the biggest sizes I use on location). I soon discovered that locks are quite active places and the water levels/boats keep chopping and changing. I preferred the subject with the lock empty as there was enough going on around it. I also liked the way the sun caught the inside of the lock on the far side. It's a tricky subject but the vertical anchors of the tree and pole helped make the composition stronger. The foreground railings were handy too.

Reflections, Stoke Bruerne (oil on board 10x13in)
This one's all a bit civilised for my liking but I fancied having a go at the reflections. The building is actually an Indian restaurant!
Lots of framing to be done for the upcoming show with the Plein Air Brotherhood at A&K Wilson gallery, opening October 2nd. Then it's the Royal Society of Marine Artists annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London (October 17th) for which I had 2 paintings accepted. Looking forward to it and I'll hopefully have a few more paintings to post up soon.