Saturday, 26 May 2012

Nul points

Well, I hope we get more than that tonight (go Engelbert, go) ... and I hope you give me more than zero too for yet another painting of a field of rapeseed! I used a photo for reference for this large finished painting, taken yesterday on my phone whilst speeding at about 60mph along the guided busway towards Cambridge. I was on my way to buy more watercolour paper of course.

It was a scorching hot day (for the UK), the sky was clear and appeared an almost complementary violet to the endless fields of acid yellow.

Happy painting and good luck Europe!

Liquid Gold II, watercolour and pastel pencil on Hahnemuhle Cornwall 450gsm/210lbs matt, 30 x 40 cm/11.8 x 15.7 in

Friday, 25 May 2012

Warming up

The fine weather is here at last - Yay! Apparently we could see temperatures of 27C/81F here in the East of England today, and for the next few days, so the raincoat and other previously essential warm outer layers of clothing have been left at home and there is now some space in the cycle pannier for my sketching gear!

I painted this quick watercolour sketch on my journey home from work on Wednesday, diverting through the town and along the riverside to make the most of the first day of sunshine we have had for ages. I find I it easier to do art at the end of the working day, although I generally completely reverse things when I'm on holiday and prefer to get out early before everyone else is awake so it has little or no impact on fun family stuff!

River Great Ouse, Huntingdon

 And here's my watercolour sketching kit (cleaned up and ready to pack away) on the bench where I sat and sketched the river scene.

My watercolour sketching kit

When I got home, using the sketch, and aided by visual memory and a little artistic license, I did a more 'finished' painting of the same scene. This was painted using Daler Rowney Artists tube colour in a Seawhite Artists Journal ... so I suppose it's still really a sketch ;)

River Great Ouse, Huntingdon

 While I was happily rediscovering how well the paper in the Seawhite journals handled watercolour, I did a couple of loosening up sketches, this time using Royal Talens Rembrandt watercolours:


Sailing by

Finally, I was delighted, nay chuffed, to receive a beautiful original watercolour, together with an equally beautiful  handwritten, handpainted card,  from one of my 'bestest' blogfriends Judy, to say thank you in return for the painting I had sent her recently as a well-earned PaintBytes Blogiversary prize. THANK YOU JUDY! I'm pretty sure that Judy needs no introduction from me, particularly considering most of you came to my blog from hers in the first place ... but if you haven't already seen her beautiful watercolour work yet then I suggest you pop over there .... NOW!

Judy's hand-painted thankyou card

A genuine, 100% original, Judy Barends watercolour!

Happy painting to you all ... oh and of course good luck, Englebert !

Friday, 18 May 2012

Liquid gold

I can remember the first time I saw rapeseed growing in the UK. I was travelling by train, through my home county of Cheshire, heading northwards to the Lancashire seaside coast. I gazed out of the window in amazement at the fields of shocking yellow that lay either side of the track, so different to the countryside around my hometown with its gentle buff and ochre fields of grain and lush green pastures populated by herds of mainly Friesan cattle.

Rapeseed is BIG money now in the UK and Ireland and many of the local farmers seem to be growing it in preference to all other crops. Leaving aside its visual beauty, the crop has other far less attractive impacts, as those amongst us that suffer with hayfever will tell you only too well! Additionally, after the crop is harvested. our homes and gardens are usually infested with swarms of tiny homeless insects (we call them thunderfly) that often decide to take up residence in the oddest of places; it is not unusual to see them under the cover glass of paintings and photographs and even under the seams of wallpaper!

This 10-15 minute watercolour was developed from a sketch I did in pastel pencil recently whilst on a local bus route that passes alongside fields of rapeseed. The stark yellow of the field is punctuated by the swathes of green from the growth below and heightened by the dulled ultramarine blue of a blustery Cambridgeshire sky above. The small roundish trees and hedgerow of the field boundary are dwarfed by the distant line of giant poplar trees of a neighbouring field, planted by farmers as a frail windbreak against the cold, brisk winds that blow almost totally unhindered across this flattest of lands from the North Sea.

Happy painting!

Liquid Gold, watercolour and watercolour pencil on Langton 140lb Rough, A4

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Rain, rain, go away ...

I  was hoping to get out to do some plein air sketching in the next couple of weeks, the first time in many, many months, and even though I'm feeling a lot fitter now, the weather is still pretty awful ... and the long range forecast doesn't look good either! The hills in the area around my home town in the NorthWest will be getting some snow very soon apparently - What on earth is happening, it's May!

But, despite the cold and the almost continuous rain, I did manage to get out to the summerhouse (aka garden studio) over the weekend. I decided to have a bit of a sort out and stored away anything that I thought I wouldn't need  for a while and just left out the materials I thought I would need over the next few months.

I had been working on a drawing while I was off work convalescing and I originally had the intention of adding watercolour to it. I generally don't do a lot of preparatory drawing for my watercolours, preferring instead to draw with the brush as I go along, so it all felt a little too rigid for me. It's quite a large format too to what I generally use (12in x 16in) and so I got out the biggest brush I could find - a one inch bristle wood preservative brush (!) and worked lots of lovely rich Daler Rowney tube colour over the drawing like it was going out of fashion! Well, I must admit, it looked absolutely dreadful ... and no, I didn't take a photograph of it ... way too embarassing! Not wanting to commit it to the waste paper bin, I took out my Carbothello pastel pencils and my Derwent hard pastels and set to work, covering the watercolour washes with dry opaque pigment. I quite like the result - not bad for a watercolour painter anyway :)

Happy painting to you all.

Cambridge 1, Pastel on Langton 140lb HP, 16in x 12in