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.
 
 
 
 
 
 

12 comments:

  1. David I am almost overwhelmed by these paintings there are so many of them and they are all so good. I am going to have to spend some time really looking at these. There is just so much to admire and enjoy. Wow!
    Doug

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    1. Hey Douglas, that's very kind of you :) Some different subjects for a change but it's been nice to take advantage of what's on offer in the local landscape. Lots of greenery around over here at the moment on the back of a rather wet summer which has gladly improved in recent weeks. Hope you've had some decent painting weather over in the US...I believe it's been quite hot and dry in many parts!

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    2. A lot of the US did suffer from terrible drought. The previous summer we had water restrictions here where we could only water our lawns and gardens twice a week and between certain hours, but this year our area was fortunate to have quite a bit of rain, although we did have a lot of grasshoppers, so no restrictions and we are hoping to have some decent fall foliage to paint.

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  2. Hi David, just discovered your liking for allotments! Me too! Great subjects for paintings, especially like the Sunflower 'Totem'

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    1. Thanks Nigel. Yes indeed, there's something unusually appealing about allotments that's hard to define. I like the jumble of sheds, the general sense of 'pottering' and the relative peace/tranquility. Hoping to get back again before the autumn really sets in although I'd imagine they can be interesting all year round, especially when it's frosty or snowy. Those sunflower totems are really great to look at and I'm sure some of the plot owners are secretly in competition with eachother to see whose ends up the tallest!

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  3. David - this is a lovely series here, very poetic and very 'english'. I like both your wild flowers paintings equally. The first one has indeed a great movement and attractive format, but the second one has those lovely touch of blue that keep competing with the violet in great way which make makes you want to look at the painting again and again. I particularly love your second allotment one as you just feel you are there, and the light green in the background and the distant cooler trees give a great sense of depth. Such an harmonious painting with your eyes that keep wandering between the sunflowers and the compost bin. Love it. Your lock ones are great too but my heart goes to the nature ones as I'm always a big fan of greens as you may know. Looking forward to seeing your studio work.

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    1. Thanks Valerie :) Yes indeed, I seem to remember Richard Schmid in his book 'Alla Prima' talking about the greens over here that are very 'particular' to the English landscape. The allotments have a rich variety of greens at this time of year and all the sheds and other objects break things up nicely. The flower paintings actually had very little green in them....it was more of a lilac and pale yellow combo. You're lucky having those great allotments at Sion hill in Bath...the backdrop is stunning...I'll have to go back there for another crack at them some day!

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  4. Love the allotments painting David - a cross between a John Lines and a David Curtis...ie, a David Pilgrim! The two Stoke Bruern paintings absolutely first rate too - great observation of water. Are you in a gallery apart from the Plein Air Brotherhood? If not, as and when I open mine, I want you! I shall see you at the RSMA private view/opening if you're there - I got 3 in, the worst of the 5 I submitted, in my eyes!
    By the way, I'm enrolled as a follower, but never get email alerts to your blog posts...?

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  5. Thanks Peter. Hope things are going well with all your exhibitions. I've had work in a few galleries like the Hawker gallery in Amersham and the Bath Gallery down in Bath but those were for specific group shows. Still a free agent I guess :) Look forward to seeing you at the RSMA. Well done on getting 3 in! I'm meeting Tim King and Haidee-Jo Summers there and hopefully there'll be more familiar faces too. Glad you like the allotments. I'm a fan of both David Curtis and John Lines (who is from where I grew up in Rugby and a thoroughly nice chap) so the compliment is much appreciated :)

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    1. Look forward to seeing you David - are you there on the 16th? I met Haidee at Patchings this year. I'm a Banbury boy, so not far away from you originally! Hope to make it to your PAB exhibition too.
      I'm in the last throws of working for my solo show - doing a few life-studies of the female form to include - great fun and a nice change from landscapes (see at http://peter-peterbarkerpaintings.blogspot.co.uk/)

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