Tuesday, 24 March 2015

New gallery opening soon!

I am thrilled to write that I have been invited to exhibit work alongside some fantastic artists at a new gallery soon to be opening in Uppingham, in Rutland.

The gallery, Peter Barker Fine Art, is owned by one of the UK's finest landscape painters, Peter Barker. On exhibition alongside his own fantastic landscape oil paintings will be the work of other leading names such as David Curtis, Trevor Chamberlin, John Lines, well so many well known and respected artists that perhaps it is best you take a look at the website - http://www.peterbarkerfineart.co.uk/

The web site has just now been launched ahead of the gallery, which is due to open in April, and I understand the work shown on line is already for sale!

I feel very privileged to be included, and I am sure Peter will have every success with the gallery. I will post more news with pictures soon.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Painting with Courage - taking risks!

Courage, I felt, was a word in this post's title that deserved a capital letter!

Many paintings that I admire, I feel to have been 'painted with courage', as if daring to fail was a deliberate choice for the artist. Sometimes it works, sometimes not, but it may probably be the best way forward for me. I feel I am often far too careful and predictable in my choice of subject and painting methods, and really need to freshen even shake up my approach. A calm and deliberate approach is what I'm trying to get away from now, so I think I need to become more of a risk taker with my paintings and not worry about how a painting will turn out, but let the painting surprise me!

The following painting titled 'Corner of the Meadow', is a 10 x 12 inches oil on board, and I think it shows my love of broad chunky brushstrokes, painted loosely with no under drawing and little blocking in. Just straight in with the lovely juicy oil paint using big brushes and very little mixing on the palette, allowing 'stray' colours to come along and join in the fun!

Painting of poppies in a field
'Corner of the Meadow' 10 x 12 inches oil on board 

The painting was deliberately 'under finished' you might say, I wanted to see what happened if I painted with a little more courage than usual. No fiddling or messing, no trying to get each bit 'just right'. The painting itself really looks far better in real life than this photo shows, and I am quite pleased with it. Soon I will post a photo of the painting framed, but first I will have to get a decent camera as this was scanned on my old flatbed scanner which now gives poor results.

The second painting below was painted entirely from memory, as I was trying to capture a feeling not portray a place, it was like painting with my eyes shut, no details available to me, just half memories, a 'glimpse' of the landscape I had witnessed.

Moorland oil painting
'Where the Moor Reaches for the Sky!' 8 x 12 inches oil on board

I remember driving across the Yorkshire moors on my way to Whitby, the heather covered moor stretching towards a heavy rain threatening sky! 'Where the Moor Reaches for the Sky', again painted using blocks of colour quickly applied does capture what I saw and felt. Under a heavy sky lay the raw nature of the moorland, swathes of colourful heather, rocky outcrops strewn across the moor, while the sheep making their way along a well trodden path were added just as an afterthought.

Their is no subtle blending in these 2 paintings, no careful attention to accurate description. They are like a glimpse of nature, as if you'd turned your head away quickly and tried to remember what you had just witnessed. What you would remember I think would not be the detail, but blocks of colour, flashes of uncluttered memory, the important bits.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Another market scene

First post for a while, thought I'd post a another market scene painting that I completed a while ago. It features 2 butchers working in their shop inside Doncaster Market, simplicity being the key here, loose brushwork and simple shapes. The title 'Busy Hands' came to mind while watching them at work, both men concentrating, their hands moving fast with the ease that comes only with years of experience at their trade.

Painting of 2 butchers
'Busy Hands' oil on board, size 10 x 8 inches

Below is another scene from the same market, titled 'Flower Stall' A small vibrant painting with quickly applied brushstrokes, minimum detail, its all about capturing a glimpse of the action with no fuss.

Painting of a flower stall
'Flower Stall' oil on board, 6 x 8 inches

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Something Different

With something different in mind again, I thought I'd post a recent 10 x 12 inch oil painting titled 'The Guardsman', a member of the Queen's Horse Guard on duty. Based on a photo I took when visiting London with the family quite a few years ago, I was attracted by the strong design featuring large simple shapes and blocks of colour, especially the central very prominent red cloak of the guardsman.

Horse Guards painting
'The Guardsman'.   10 x 12 inches, oil on board.

Below is a small 8 x 10 inch painting titled 'Morning Glow'. This is a study for a future larger painting featuring the gable of a shop on the end of a row of terraced buildings. This side of the shop, though white painted in reality, often takes on a bright yellow glow when struck by a rising early morning sun.

painting of a building
'Morning Glow'  (Study)   8 x 10 inches, oil on board.

I have seen this effect on the end of the shop many times and always wanted to paint it. This first simple study serves as a starting point for the future painting, which I shall post and describe when completed.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Doncaster Open Art Exhibition 2014

I mentioned in my last post that I had put the small market stall painting 'Bargain Hunters' into the Doncaster Open Art Exhibition this year, unfortunately it didn't get selected. Never mind though, 2 other small oils did. These are titled 'Industrial Ghosts', and 'Grey Morning'.

As you can see from the pics below, they aren't my usual subjects.

Pit head gear painting
'Industrial Ghosts' 6 x 8 inches oil on board.

This painting was produced from an old photo of mine of Askern colliery head gear, and as the pit is no longer there, also from recollections of night shift noise, lights, shadows, silhouettes of large red brick workshops, steam and smoke.

Of course, as with all of the pit villages of South Yorkshire, the skyline was dominated by the head gear rising above the rows and rows of miners homes. These iron giants are what most people remember - ghosts from an industrial past.

painting of man walking dog, abstract grey sky
'Grey Morning'  6 x 8 inches, oil on board.  
Very different to my usual landscapes! 'Grey Morning' represents a lone man walking his dog early one morning. We wonder what he might be thinking, shoulders slightly haunched against the grey sky, he walks out of the picture, seemingly too lost in his own thoughts to notice the (abstracted) sunrise behind him.

Both these paintings can be seen at the Doncaster Open Art Exhibition, at Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery, 18th October until 13th December.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Thinking about paintings - Brushstrokes.

I mention towards the end of the previous post about not overworking paintings, not being too 'fussy' with the brush. For quite a while I have thought that in my own painting I have perhaps often focused too much on portraying a subject, possibly neglecting the one thing that attracts me to many of my favourite paintings I have seen over the years, lively interesting brushwork.

I prefer a long handled short flat hog for my oil painting, with a hair that's just a little stiff, certainly not too soft. With this brush a great sculptural quality can be achieved. I like to see simple, broad, honest brushstrokes, confidently, often quickly applied and left, with no fussy blending or overworking. Along with this loose and confident mark, I really love to see lots of colours picked up from the palette at one go, and allowed to show side by side in the finished brushstroke, with little or no blending to dilute this 'first touch' effect. A single colour on the brush is never as lively on the canvas I feel. In some of my paintings I have achieved this, in others I may have concentrated a little too much on getting the right colour mixed on the palette first, only managing to mix the life out of the paint instead.

I aim to make interesting brushwork more of a feature in each painting in future. Well, I'll try.
For now, a couple more 'latest paintings'.

loose colourful oil painting of abandoned cottage in a woodland
'Abandoned Cottage'  10 x 12 inches, oil on canvas board.
All around me were patches and slabs of colour, shade and light filtered by the woodland trees, so very loose brushwork here, it just felt right when painting this abandoned cottage in the wood. The brushwork, though carefully thought out, is speedy and loose, fiddly detail here would not achieve the overall effect I wished for. I really enjoyed the brushwork in this painting, I think it helps to find the poetry in the subject more than highly descriptive detail might. The brushwork had to be visible and strong, earthy almost, better to portray the patchy sunlight, undergrowth, and scattered stonework. The eye is led past the old outhouse to the one cottage window, through which we glimpse a dark empty interior where once perhaps a family would have led their lives.

Indoor market oil painting
'Bargain Hunters'   10 x 8 inches, oil on board
An indoor market fish stall, a symphony of greys, punctuated by the brightly lit produce on display. Two well wrapped up ladies look for bargains while the merchant waits. Again I have used strong loose brushwork, this along with strong shadow greys and the central brightly lit area makes for an interesting painting, the subject I feel would have been much less interesting without this treatment.
I have entered this painting into the Doncaster Open Art Exhibition 2014, I should hear soon if it has been accepted or not, and will let you know. Fingers crossed.

More latest paintings

This second post featuring latest paintings shows my usual subjects and compositions, plus a few new ideas.

colourful oil painting of a fairground
'Fairground'   6 x 8 inches, oil on board.
A colourful fairground painting, again loosely painted to achieve the feeling of such a busy scene.

Loosely painted fish market oil painting
'Fish for Dinner'   6 x 8 inches, oil on board.
This simple market scene was painted in a quick and lively fashion, the intention being to avoid detail and show the fast pace and movement of the indoor market stalls surrounded by customers.

oil painting of an english country lane in summer
'Summer Lane'   8 x 12 inches, oil on board.
Perhaps a more usual subject and composition for me, a country lane winds into the distance with cornfields and trees either side. Rosebay Willow Herb adding a splash of complementary colour to the scene.

oil painting of cattle grazing in a field
'Grazing Land'   8 x 12 inches, oil on board.
A loosely painted work, painted on site in one speedy session. As with most paintings that look as if they were painted quite quickly, much time was spent studying the scene both before and during the painting process. Capturing the fleeting moment, working outside quick and loose can be both exhilarating and tiring! I like to leave the brushwork with an unfinished, unfussy feel, building up the painting with quickly applied untouched strokes. The movement and atmosphere of the scene can so easily ruined by fussing with the paint surface, better I think to leave things be, forgive a few mistakes and allow the viewer to 'feel' the landscape portrayed. It should not need to be described with over fussy detail. Still, I do love paintings that are detailed, its just not my preferred way to work.

I like to leave enough for the viewer to complete the painting with their own imagination.

Actually, the next day when I viewed this painting back in my studio, I was very tempted to 'finish off' a little, but I soon decided to leave it alone. Which bit would I alter? To rework or add detail to one section would probably result in my eventually reworking most or all of the picture. For example, 'finishing off' the grazing cattle might lead me to adding more detail to the trees behind, then the field in front, then the clouds etc etc. I knew, from many spoilt paintings over the years that I should leave it alone. I am always amazed that by simply propping such a painting into a suitable frame, it can immediately look finished, a frame seems to hold it all together! So, if in doubt, leave it be.