Wednesday, 11 December 2013

ROI annual exhibition 2013

Just returned from the private view for the 2013 annual exhibition with the Royal Institute of Oil Painters at the Mall Galleries in London. Great to see everyone there and chat with fellow members, friends and visitors. It really is a superb show this year and I'd thoroughly recommend a visit (runs until December 21st).

The exhibition was offiicially opened by ROI President Ian Cryer and Dr David Starkey.

Dr David Starkey giving his opening speech to a packed out gallery audience

I have five paintings on show, as shown below.

'Punt station, Magdalen Bridge, Oxford' (22x28in)

'Mill Lane, Stony Stratford' (11x14in)

'Royal Palace of Alcasar, Seville' (12x16in)

'Barge at Heybridge', (12x16in)

'Blue boat, Brancaster Staithe', (10x8in)

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Late autumn

I've managed to grab a small handful of outdoor sessions recently and tried to take advantage of the decent light/sunshine we've had over the last couple of weekends. It certainly makes all the difference when the sun comes out at this time of year, especially in rural landscapes. Most of the leaves have dropped now and the landscape has veered into winter mode.

I enjoyed this one on Saturday, painted at about 11am for a couple of hours on the edge of Ravenstone, a nice Northamptonshire village with sandstone cottages that glow when lit by the low winter sun. I was conscious of the dangers of the 'chocolate box' cottage scene and the raking shadows provided enough abstract interest to make it worth a shot. I really wanted to nail the warmth of the light contrasted against the cool shadows and had to focus hard to manage the tones. The gable end of the house was fully lit by the sun buy when you compare the tone with the window sills it's lower in tone than you'd perhaps expect. The central telegraph pole was darker at the top and the one on the right was lighter, offering a bit of counterchange. Nice little puzzles to solve as you go along. I liked the dark punch of the shadow side of the roof and a post van drove up and parked on the drive at one point so I grabbed it as a nice little shot of colour.

'Late morning winter light, Ravenstone' - 12x16 in - oil on board 
(click image to enlarge)

Another one from Northamptonshire, this time the village of Everdon. I had less time with this one as it was about 1:30pm and the light was shifing much faster than I imagined. Within minutes of starting the shadows started to creep up the front of 'The Plough'. Again, I wanted to try and capture the sense of light and the colours contrasting against the shadows. The building really was quite a strong orange/yellow. Interesting how the wall on the right, although in shadow, had a fair bit of warmth coming through and I was conscious of not ending up with a muddy mush by mixing the warm/cool transitions too much.

'The Plough, afternoon light (Everdon)' - 9x10in - oil on board

Late autumn trees

I just about managed to catch the tail end of some autumn colours but they felt a bit like snatched moments. The light seems best later in the day but by that time it shifts at such a rate it can all be a bit of a blur when trying to paint something. The simpler the subject the better really, there's no time to fiddle or spend ages details. It's more the overall effect that's interesting so I'm keen to try and tune into what is the 'essence' of the subject in front of me.

I must confess I can sometimes spend too much time looking around for something that catches the eye but I struggle to paint something if there isn't a spark there. The difficulty is that the best 'views' don't necessarily translate into the best paintings and it's often the incidental, stumbled upon moments that can be the most interesting to work with. Here's one such subject of 'nothing in particular' but I saw something in the rhythms of the shapes and way the sky interacts with the ground via the water tracks in the mud. There was a vague hint of light but it was essentially quite overcast.

'Mud tracks, Grandborough' - 9x10in, oil on board
(click image to enlarge)

Another aspect I enjoyed about this was that it was painted over an old dud which freed me up a bit. I think if there is something underneath it forces you to make more forceful marks in order to conceal the embarrassment that lies beneath! I actually returned the following weekend as the sun was fading and painted over another used panel. This time I had barely half an hour to get something down before everything was in shadow. It was more a case of making quick colour notes and jotting down the general feeling. I probably could have done with working the water tracks a bit more but it was best not to fiddle and end up with a mush.

'Afternoon light,wet field near Grandborough' (8x10in - oil on board)

Another one caught right at the end of the afternoon and rapidly painted as the light disappeared. Nice simple subject, nothing to get too fussy with and the water tracks brought a nice element of contrast into the darker tones of the muddy ground. If I did another version I would probably go easier on the orange and perhaps refine the distant area, possibly a subtle church spire to help things along. It's useful to have the colour and tonal references from the spot as a firm starting point. Photos (with my camera anyway) would be hopeless and besides, painting from photos isn't something I enjoy doing. Much prefer being there and soaking it all up.

'Last light, Northampton Lane (Rugby)' (8x10in oil on board)