I’ve been compensating for the recent dull weather by playing around with colour and texture. This is my interpretation of the low warm light I found on a visit to the Fens in late December.
I spent a couple of days walking in the Yorkshire Dales a few weeks ago, including the must-do trail from Malham to Gordale Scar and then over to Malham Cove, with its cliff edge and fabulously preserved limestone pavement. To say the route is well trodden would be an understatement. There was a steady stream of walkers most of the way, especially from Malham village to the waterfall delightfully named ‘Janet’s Foss’. The sun was shining that morning after rain overnight and the views were magnificent. I’ve tried to capture in this small painting my experience of walking into the sunlight – the glare on the path, the walkers ahead and the cloudy mist on the hills ahead.
Another Burghley piece … and more trees! Many of the large trees in Burghley park have mistletoe and this is all the more obvious in Winter/early Spring before the trees come into leaf. The shapes are fantastic and rather surreal. The early Spring light is pretty special too. A joy to paint!
..well a tree ‘portrait’ anyway!
I quite often get asked how I approach making a painting and as I remembered to take some photos of work in progress on this one (which is rare!) I thought I would share.
The approach varies depending on the medium I am painting in but this is fairly typical for paintings done in oil.
My painting surface here is 3mm MDF which I have primed with several coats of household primer and then a coat or two of artist’s ‘gesso’. I then stain the white surface to a cool or warmish grey, either with diluted oil paint rubbed in with a rag or sometimes with acrylic paint.
I start by roughly drawing out the main shapes with diluted oil, taking note in particular of where the darks will go (stage 1). The next stage is to mix up the colours I will be using and to ‘block in’ the main areas of colour, trying to get the lights and darks and the colour mixes approximately right (stage 2).
Stage 3 then involves refining the block in until the painting is finished. There are lots of mini stages here and what amounts to ‘finished’ is often hard to gauge. Some people like a very detailed, refined image. Personally I strive not to fiddle and to try to achieve a ‘painterly’ work, which hopefully has interest to the viewer.
Here is the finished piece. I hope you like it.
Those of us living in Stamford are fortunate to have the grounds of Burghley House to explore throughout the year. Very popular with dog walkers! I’ve tried in this piece to capture that low light one gets in late Winter and the haziness of the distant trees.
Here’s the second of the small plein air pieces I painted at Burghley last week. There must be thousands of old trees in Burghley Park, many of them adorned with mistletoe, so it is easy for me to find subject matter everywhere! However last week I only had a short amount of time and a small board so I concentrated on trying to capture a small stand of trees which was being lit by the low sun. There were fantastic shapes – a couple of fallen trunks and some amazing twisted branches. I was also treated to deer grazing in the field! The best I could do that morning was to capture an impression of shape and colour. I may work this and the first painting up a little larger to explore the subject further.
Waking up to a frosty but bright Monday morning I took my paints and pochade box out to the parkland surrounding Burghley House. The light was lovely, the dog walkers were out and the parkland deer were quietly grazing. A pretty magical time. This is the first of two small oil sketches I was able to make before the cold got the better of me!