Thursday, 19 January 2012

Sunny and cold

The weather was beautiful at the weekend....clear, cold and crisp with completely clear skies. On Saturday I headed for Ivinghoe Beacon and spent a fair bit of time scouting around before settling on a couple of studies. This one was done on the slopes just after taking a tumble with all my kit. That'll teach me! I was cold at this point and just looking to get cracking and as a result the painting didn't quite match expectations. I was drawn to the distant hills and how they almost merged with the sky but it's tricky finding anything to latch on to in terms of the composition with big panoramas. I've learnt a few things for next time anyway.

Hill haze, Ivinghoe Beacon 8x12in, oil on board

My next effort was right at the end of the day and I nearly just packed up after feeling rather cold and a little weary. I thought it would be worth a shot as was a bit more satisfied having captured the heavy frost which hadn't left the shaded slopes all day. I was conscious of the extreme temperature shifts and realised that this was largely due to the fact that the shaded areas still had the frost which reflected a lot of blue from the sky. The frost had melted in the sunlit areas which meant they looked even warmer in relation to the shady sections. The contrasts seem almost unreal when you're looking at them and I tried to get some sort of a balance.

Frost and sun, Ivinghoe Beacon - 10x13in oil on board

I think my favourite from the weekend was my final effort shown below. I'd started a scene around the corner of a mill by the river but it just all seemed too civilised and after a few brushstrokes I started to lose interest. With the frost melting I searched for another spot and found these nice looking trees against the early sunlight. The frost was still there for a while but started to melt after about half an hour or so. Frost is quite tricky because it's like a half way house between snow and nothing at all. Temperature and colour shifts can be quite jolting in areas where there is and isn't any frost. As with the previous piece, I tried to harmonize everything as best as I could and shifted the spacing between the trees to make a better composition on the panel I had with me. I had to work darn fast but I liked the light together with the rhythms created by the tree shapes. There's a bit of glare on the left of the shot but it hopefully gives you an idea.

Three trees, morning frost - 8x16in oil on panel


  1. David,
    These are all really nice but the first is my favorite. I really like the great feeling of distance that you achieved in this painting. Also, it looks so very British. I believe a great painting captures not only the look but also the feel of the place. To me this painting of yours truly achieves this. Well done!

  2. Thanks Doug :) It was the distance that really appealed for that one but I found it tricky trying to latch onto a structure for a composition. A nice bonus appeared at one point with a little bonfire in the distance which I tried to strategically place to guide the eye. I didn't want to put too much detail in though. It seemed more important to get the tones and notes of colour working properly in order to create something close to the sense of atmosphere.

  3. Nice work, David. Frost is a great subject but very fleeting. It's a good job plein painters know how to paint quickly when the need arises.

  4. David,
    Three lovely paintings. I particularly like the second one and I feel that the balance between the cool of the frost and warmth of the other areas has been handled beautifully!

  5. Lovely work David. I can really feel the cold and the frost!

  6. Lovely paintings. I'd agree with Keith - the 2nd one is the best. I love the colours and looking at it I can say that it's winter. The 1st one isn't bad - I'm stunned to how much you managed to squeeze onto such a small board. So don't be too hard on yourself. And the trees... well, they remind me of a place near where I live. So all 3 are appealing!

  7. Love the Hill Haze painting, David - fabulous handling of the blue shadows and orange barns. Great work!

  8. Keith, that's very kind, thank you :) Thanks also to Valerie...yes, it WAS cold! Decorartuk, glad you like them and those boards don't seem so small when the light's shifting and you've got only minutes before it's all changed :) Anything bigger than 16-18in can be a challenge to finish in one hit on site (for me anyway).

    Thanks Peter too! I was conscious of those colour shifts which were crucial in helping to define the aerial perspective and the warm orange of those barn roofs provided a nice contrast.