I’m exhibiting at the Horsforth Walk of Art this year on the 4th and 5th of July. I like these type of open arts events, they attract a lot of people who like to paint, draw and craft themselves. I get to meet people who want to find out about the work and who are often interested in trying the techniques for themselves. So, I thought in the run up I’ll do a weekly post where I will share one of the techniques I use, a tip about how to make use of a material, something I find useful in my painting or possibly a resource that I’ve found interesting or inspiring.
If you want to be sure to receive each weekly post then make sure you sign up either to my blog, and if you have a technique or tip that you’d like to share then post a comment.
The first signs of autumn are here. Leaves starting to turn, end of the blackberries, a cool crisp chill in the air first thing in the morning, misty days like today. I love the autumn colour, although its also tinged with a touch of wistfulness for me as well. The close of the summer, no more endlessly hot, bright days for a few months. I always think that the glorious colours of autumn are natures last gasp of majesty before everything goes to sleep for the winter months. So, I’ve been capturing some of the early signs on my morning walks. The hawthorn, the rose hips, teasels, grasses and flowers going to seed and I’m beginning to think about autumn colour – burnt sienna, cadmium red, alizarin crimson, indigo and purple.
I put up a post a few days ago about working with triads of colour. I said I was looking forward to trying out the principles with acrylic paint to see what that might be like and it’s been great fun.
I have found painting the landscape in the Peak District to be an interesting challenge. Moorland can be pretty bleak and uncompromising and although this is contrasted with some lovely rolling green hills interspersed with rocks, trees, and dry stone walls, the composition and use of colour becomes more important, otherwise I find I can end up with a just a very green painting. I think this is one of those times when, because I’m not painting something that is particularly beautiful of itself, unlike the Isles of Scilly for example, it can become beautiful through the expression of the artist. There is a wildness and bleakness that I do find appealing and compelling, but that doesn’t make it something that in my view works as a painting, so the challenge is how convey something of the bleakness and the wild openness in a way that is visually attractive.
Scotch Pines at Longshaw
The chance to play around with some colour seemed to fit well with this, and here are my first couple of attempts. The first painting is of scotch pines in the grounds up at Longshaw. This was from a walk on a lovely bright winter’s day. I was particularly struck by the deep shadows in the foreground and the light in the distance. The walk we did on this day took us through Grindleford and Padley Gorge where I took lots more snaps to work on back in the studio. Longshaw is a National Trust property between Sheffield and Hathersage.
Snow on Stanage
The next couple of paintings are both around Stanage, one of the many grit stone edges that can be found in this area. From the tops the moors stretch out before you into the far distance and all there is to see is mile after mile of rolling heather, bracken and grass moving in the breeze. Here’s something from a day with the heather in bloom and another when there was snow on the ground.
I’m not a great fan of watercolour, always found them a bit wishy washy and I’ve never felt that confident using them either, too delicate I suppose. I’ve used them for rough sketching and playing about but nothing much else. However, I recently discovered a great book, Art Escapes by Dory Kanter an American watercolorist and I’m inspired! Here’s Dory’s website to have a look at her work. http://www.artworldtours.com/
The book is about keeping an artistic journal, and in it there are some lovely ideas and really great exercises to do as part of a process of doing something creative every day. Which is my latest thing by the way, being creative every day – but more on that in my next post.
Derbyshire Open Arts
What I’ve found most useful is her ideas on working with triads of colour. Now, I tend to work with a limited palette anyway, but her approach was new and I’ve been having great fun. I’ve started with some little water colour paintings that I’ve made into cards, (they will be on sale at Derbyshire Open Arts this weekend) and I’m feeling like they will lead on to bigger things; maybe some larger watercolours. I’m also really excited about how I might take this idea of working with triads and use the principle with oils and acrylic, now that could be really interesting.
Following some pretty wet weather the bluebells are out at Linacre. This time of year is one of my favourites for the stunning beauty of the beech woods and the carpet of bluebells that seem to hover a few inches above the earth, below glorious bright green canopy of the trees.
Each year, as soon as we reach the middle of April I start looking out for those telltale spots of blue that give hints of the glory yet to come. This year has been no different. The wild garlic is showing with those wonderful white stars, the anemones with their delicate petals and leaves and the bluebells with a heady scent that fills the air on a warm day. My inspiration for painting is from moments of peacefulness and connection, bluebells are a favourite of mine, something I love to paint and I never fail to be stirred by them.
I’ve completed a few paintings of bluebell woods, using various techniques. Its been fun experimenting, finding different ways of expressing the experience and communicating what I see.
This is an early painting. I was interested in contrast between the dark in the foreground under the trees and the light in distance between the trees and the remains of last year’s leaves still on the ground, the orange complementing the blue of the flowers.
Experimenting with a palette knife, enjoying the texture of the paint and building up the paint layering it on thickly.
And my most recent work this year, acrylic on board.