Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Between the showers

I can't remember having such a wet summer for a long, long time but I suppose you just have to take the painting opportunities when they present themselves, whatever the weather decides to do. Within reason of course.....some days there's little option but to retreat into the studio with a nice cup of tea :) Nothing like a good cuppa to revive the creative spirit! I've got a couple of studio pieces bubbling away (as I often like to have) but outside is where I get really fired up these days. I had hoped to to a bit more plein air painting in the evenings after work but the weather has put a halt on that plan for the time being. I've been a bit under the weather (pardon the pun) too so that's slowed me up a bit. In spite of that, it's been a case of seizing the moment when it arises.

'Warm haze, Emberton, Northants' 5x10in oil on board (click image for larger version)

This was done about 3 weeks ago when we had a rare hot day. I found a spot and decided to sit low in the grass to create a touch of foreground interest. I like the warm, hazy light and wanted to try and capture it as economically as possible. The colours/tones/temperatures were quite subtle and for such a simple subject it was actually quite tricky to try and pull together. The slight diagonal trace of the path through the grass in the foreground made the composition more interesting.

On the same weekend I painted some cows in a nearby meadow. I'd been scouting around for something in the glaring sun but couldn't get fired up by all the greens so I thought I'd give the cows a go. Needless to say, they moved within minutes of starting but I got a sense of their general postures and tried to get it down and make a sensible sort of composition at the same time.

'Cows at Passenham Meadow', 8x10in oil on board (sorry about the photo glare on the darks)

The cows were across the stream and pretty much against the light when I started but after about half an hour they crossed the stream and came over to see what I was doing. Too close for comfort in fact....I was starting to get a bit concerned when one literally started looking right over my shoulder!

Silly moo!

Adpoting what looks like an 'attack stance'

Fortunately I escaped unscathed :) Next up one from Hungerford Bridge in London

'Tattershall & Castle from Hungerford Bridge,' 10x13in, oil on board

It was windy when I painted from the bridge and there was a constant stream of tourists but at least I got something down. Not sure about the composition but I did want the eye to be drawin towards Big Ben and the golden statue underneath (I'm sure it has a name) and it does seem to just about do that. Interestingly, when I started the walkway was sloping as is seen but by the end it was tipping down at the other side because the tide had rushed in. Until I realised what had happened I thought I'd just been slack with my drawing!!

No rain paintings but a couple of local studies with threatening skies...

'Break in the clouds, towards Potterspury' 8x10in oil on board

This one was painted whilst the Silverstone grand prix was on and being only a few miles down the road I could hear all the cars along with the helicopters ferrying in the rich and famous. I reworked the sky several times on site before settling on the end result. The sloping lines give it some rhythm and I made a conscious effort not to get too fussy with the foreground. It made me think though...why is green such a tricky colour to manage? 

'Leaden sky, Northants' 7x5in oil on board

I enjoyed this little study but it was a totally different sky that initially caught my eye and made me pull over on the way back from completing the previous painting. I started a vertical 6x8 of a towering cumulus but it quickly disappeared along with my inspiration. The sky started to darken and up popped a juicy storm cloud to the left. No time to waste, I whipped out a 7x5 and got stuck in for about 30 minutes or so before the moment (and cloud) had passed. At one point, the base of the cloud was almost as dark in tone as the trees! Funnily enough, I ended up using quite large brushes (including the 1 inch hog) and this seemed to give some of the marks authority they needed. It doesn't quit come out in the photo but the bottom right has a little touch of stronger green which brings a nice note of colour in to the foreground. Hopefully some better weather to come over the next few weeks.