Tuesday, 3 December 2013

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)

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