Through the Trees – Recent Paintings

An acrylic painting of a warm, sunny landscape  - through the trees, looking at the light of the sun.
Afternoon Sunlight

Good morning everyone. Yesterday I was having a look at all the paintings I’ve been doing since last March. And I noticed that quite a few of them feature light shining through the trees. For example, the image above is my latest acrylic done for the online course I’m following. To tell you the truth, I just love the way the shadow of the trees is laid down in stripes with the rays of the late afternoon sun.

Cheerful

In contrast, I did this intuitive abstract in mixed media back in March. You see, that was when our first lockdown started in the UK and things seemed very black. Actually, this was one of the earliest pages I completed in the journal I started. And this really did help me through. As you can see, I instinctively went for a sunlit view through the trees. Nothing was planned beforehand and afterwards I even wrote the word ” cheerful ” on the page to reinforce the optimistic message.

A Light at the End of the Tunnel, Through the Trees

A story picture.  A figure looking towards the light at the end of the tunnel, through the trees in a primeval forest.
A Light at the End of the Tunnel

And finally, I painted this acrylic canvas last April, when we were beginning to talk hopefully about vaccines . In fact, this was the third piece in a triptych telling the story of how the world has been altered by the human race – see this post here if this interests you. ( I subsequently added another two chapters to this story to give it a really happy ending! ) And, I must say, I have continued to paint around the subject of light shining through trees right up until now. But, I’ll save that for another post!

All of my work is for sale. So, if you like what you see, have a look in my Gallery page, and then go to the Contact page to have a chat (by email).

Three Mixed Media Abstracts from my Artjournal

A jumble of sharp, jagged shapes and urgent flashes of red - a mixed media abstract showing anxiety and fear.
Jagged

Hello everyone. Today I’d like to show you the work I’ve been doing in my art journal – some mixed media abstracts. Actually, I’ve continued using this journal since last March, when our first period of lockdown began. To be honest, I turn to it when I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. As you can see in the image above, this intuitive abstract composition is quite dark and sombre looking. And there are some spiky shapes and touches of bright red to indicate danger. In fact, I used gouache paint, pencil and pen, and afterwards I felt much better!

An Experimental Mixed Media Abstract

Yellow and Grey

This drawing above is a good example of how I also use my journal to experiment with different techniques. As you can see, here I limited myself to lemon yellow and medium grey. Because I wanted to create a piece for a challenge in the Triwing Challenge group on Mewe. In truth, I would probably never have chosen this combination of colours. But it was very enjoyable and concentrated my mind on texture. You see, I had seen some fab work online with really densely applied layers. And, I used pencil, marker and oil pastel in this drawing. There’s a great freedom in scribbling in a journal. In addition, it’s therapeutic too!

A compact,crowded abstract composition of organic shapes in orange, yellow and dark green.
New Style Abstract

Finally, I’m quite proud of this little painting/ drawing. For, I tried a new style – a composition centred in the middle of the paper, with lots of white paper showing. Obviously, it’s quite different to my usual style which completely covers the space on the paper. And I tried adding graphic marks on top of acrylic paint with markers and biros. Watch out, I feel a series of mixed media abstracts coming on!

If you would like to see more Lockdown Artjournal experiments, see here and here.

Painting in Monochrome in Acrylic and Watercolour

Sunday Best

Hello everyone. Today I’d like to show you some of the monochrome paintings I have done. To be honest, I haven’t actually done a lot of painting in monochrome. But I have done loads of drawings in pencil and charcoal and some of the principles are the same. Just to be clear, monochrome means using one colour only. However, you can create all the different tones of colour to create form and perspective. Of course, this is done by adding water to watercolour and white paint to acrylic to make the original colour progressively lighter. ( I’m sure some of you know this already!)

Painting in Monochrome – a Welsh Valley

A watercolour painting in sepia tones. A beautiful, tranquil landscape of brooding Welsh hills, the valley and the river. After John Sell Cotman.
A Valley in Wales, after John Sell Cotman

Well, this is a watercolour exercise I painted this week , following an online tutorial. We were advised to use sepia coloured paint or ink. But the artist himself used black ink, back in the 19th century and it has since faded to a pleasing soft brown . In fact, I mixed burnt umber and ultramarine blue to create a faded sepia look . As we were doing a study of this master’s work, we gridded up the page to copy the composition. Incidentally, this simple scene is really quite complex!

A close up of the bridge and the cattle

The different tones of the hills and trees were carefully mixed , copying the artistic decisions of the artist. Actually, I really enjoyed the experience but I must just mention how much I struggled with the paper – supposedly a good quality one . But I found that the colour wouldn’t lift off at all and also , it ran down in strange vertical lines! And now the painting pad has been firmly placed in the ‘scrap paper’ pile!

A Nostalgia Painting in Acrylic

An acrylic painting in monochrome, faded tones of brown. A man standing proudly outside his cottage in his Sunday best clothes.
Sunday Best

Finally, here’s one from the archives, inspired by an old photo from a local mining museum. This worker stands proudly outside his humble cottage in his Sunday best clothes. As you can imagine, I was well inside my comfort zone with this acrylic painting, making all my own artistic decisions . And, I’m pleased to say that this nostalgic painting went to a new home last year. But, of course, I have plenty more artwork for sale in my gallery here

Painting Dogs in Gouache and Acrylic Paint.

Painting Dogs  - a gouache portrait of a South African wild dog. His coat is patterned with irregular splotches of colour,  good camouflage in the grassland.
A Wild Dog – photo by Moragh Dann

Hello everyone. This is my attempt at a wild dog in South Africa . To be honest, I haven’t really spent much time painting dogs and so, I don’t have a good idea about how the body fits together. Therefore, I was very reliant on the photo, taken by Moragh Dann. Moragh tells us that these dogs are very shy and rarely seen. Also, they are on the endangered species list, so that makes encounters like this all the more precious.

Wild Dog

Firstly, I started off with a detailed pencil drawing, not something that I do often. But, I have found that since joining the Beginner Gouache Group on Mewe, I find myself working a lot more carefully. And I think the paintings are much more like illustrations too.Just to explain, our theme this month is ‘Canines’, so I was really taken with this photo.

Actually, I have been working a lot on acrylic paintings for my online course with Rod Moore (see here ) . So, coming back to gouache paint required a shift in method. The gouache paint doesn’t really dry like acrylic. Consequently, you have to use a much lighter touch when applying layers of paint so that the layer underneath doesn’t rewet. Because then it would blend in with the new layer and create a lovely mud colour!

Painting Dogs- the Face

Painting Dogs – the Face

In my opinion, this is the tricky bit. Well, you can get along ok with the ears and eyes, if you have a good photo ( which I did ). But when it comes to the muzzle, it’s quite difficult to show that the nose and mouth jut forward. Happily, at this point I did remember my classes with a tutor a few years back. And I managed to indicate a bit of foreshortening with subtle brush strokes. Hopefully, I captured a little bit of the proud, alert stance of the dog. After that, I tried to sort out the tangle of limbs in this seated pose. And, the most straight forward element of the scene – the blurry, parched grassland was soon sketched in with soft sandy colours.

A Dog in the Snow – Acrylic Paint.

Painting dogs - an acrylic portrait of a young husky dog with a thick winter coat, waiting in the snow for the off.
A Young Husky Dog

And now, for something completely different! With reference to the art classes I mentioned earlier, I painted this snow scene a few years ago. As you may be able to tell, this is painted in my favourite medium, acrylic paint. It’s much more forgiving and will allow as many revisions as necessary. In fact, I do remember enjoying the process of layering on the texture of the animal’s fur and the deep snow. But, I shall still continue to experiment with gouache, because I love a challenge! If you want to have a little look at the work I have done in gouache paint, see here .

Sketching Outside in Winter with Watercolour

The Town Park

Hello everyone. Happy New Year to you all – let’s make this a good one ! Well, sketching outside in winter actually depends on just a few things, a fine day, some simple art materials and enthusiasm! To be honest, I have sketched outside in drizzly rain (see image above ) But, if the rain persists, the paper becomes too wet and the watercolour develops strange patches of colour that you definitely didn’t intend! Seriously though, I do enjoy sketching outside in cooler weather. And you can always go for a brisk walk to warm up and drink some hot coffee from your flask. ( I forgot to mention this in the list of essentials )

Sketching Outside in the Town Park

Sketching outside in the town park. Ink and watercolour sketch showing the impressive tower and the grand entrance with a flight of steps.
The Town Park

Back in November, on a cold, intermittently rainy day , I sat for half an hour and managed this watercolour sketch. And I just went straight in with the ink and didn’t bother with a pencil sketch. Incidentally, this is my preferred method of outdoor sketching. Actually, it does help me to produce a fresh, lively painting, a record of the occasion, which is what I’m aiming at. Although it was damp and grey, the park was quite busy with families, pairs of friends meeting up outdoors and loners, coming out to stare hungrily at company. There was also an elderly jogger doing a circuit round the tower and up and down the steps. Actually, this tower is a fine sight. And a team of volunteers look after it and show visitors round on Sundays. However, I must explain that my sketch only shows about a half of the impressive height of the tower.

Sketching from the Car

A watercolour sketch showing a wide view of snowy fields and winter trees, through the  car windscreen- almost sketching outside.
A Snowy Day

As you can see, in December the weather became much colder. And I was dying to go out and attempt to paint the snow covered fields. Fortunately, we found a decent parking spot with a huge view over the fields and little copses of trees. And, I was still hankering after propping up my sketch book and paints on the dry stone wall. But, it wasn’t practicable, so I settled for the passenger seat of the car. I wanted to convey the way the tufts of rough grass were forcing their way through the slowly melting snow. And, I enjoyed leaving the paper white for the snow – it seems ages since I painted a wintry picture. This one took 40 minutes

The Winter Trees

The Winter Trees

As I have tried to show here in this close up, in the golden sunshine, the bare branches almost glowed a warm russet brown. And, then I realized that I was trying to change the temperature of the colours and the sky. Because the stormy clouds were moving in and I hadn’t noticed! So, it was time to call it a day and go home to get warmed up. Let’s hope for more milder, fine days – ideal for outdoor sketching!

If you would like to see more of my recent winter sketching, see here and here.

The Quiet Stream – an Acrylic Painting

An acrylic painting of a New Zealand  landscape - The Quiet Stream.
A Quiet Stream

Happy New Year, everyone. Let’s hope it’s peaceful and full of possibilities for us all. To be honest, I don’t usually bother with resolutions. But I do intend to work hard this year studying on the online course in acrylic painting that I’m following. And this painting is one of the pieces I just completed – A Quiet Stream. But before I talk about this in detail. I’ll show you some of the studies I painted with the Moore Method of Painting.

Tree Studies

A study of eucalyptus trees in full summer leaf , as later painted in my The Quiet Stream picture.
Tree Study – Eucalyptus

Hopefully, you can see some of the detail on this. To explain, here I concentrated on giving 3d shape to the clusters of leaves and the trunks by using tones. That is, dark, medium and light shades of green.

Tree Study – Pine, Cypress and Willow

In this study, I used a fan brush for the first time. You see, I created the pine and cypress branches by holding the brush so that only the top part of one edge was touching the paper. And, yes, I found that as hard to do as it sounds! Well, for me anyway! Admittedly, it does give a very feathery effect that you couldn’t really produce with a plain brush.

A study in acrylic paint - birch trees in winter with traces of snow on the trunks.
Tree Study – Birch

Happily, I was more in my comfort zone with this one. Because I have more visual memories of winter trees, and touches of snow. And, sometimes, I feel a bit more challenged with the Australian landscape subjects that our tutor Rod Moore demonstrates so well. However, I did experiment in this study with using the edge of a square shaped palette knife to lay down the lighter marks on the tree trunks. Perhaps I might try this technique on another painting. ( I applied the dark green background simply to show off the effect of the white markings.)

Tree Study – Palms

In this last study, I used the fan brush again, this time to create the fronds of long thin leaves that make up the foliage. Well, I tried, but I definitely need more practice!

A New Zealand Landscape

The Quiet Stream

Actually, I am pleased with this acrylic painting and , I think I did a reasonable job of bringing to life this quiet stream, meandering through a little valley in my friend’s photo of New Zealand. In fact, the teaching in the demonstrations must have stayed in my mind and resurfaced in the techniques I used here.

Painting Techniques I have used in The Quiet Stream

For example, if you saw my post on painting a waterlily pond here , that’s where I learned how to convey the idea of reflections and paint credible looking leaves floating on the surface. In addition, the teaching about adjusting the tones of the greens in the trees to suggest recession (distance ) gave me more confidence. Have a look at this post here for more examples. Of course this task is made easier by keeping to a restricted palette, as my teacher suggests. All this benefit, plus , it’s fun too! For your information, I shall do regular updates on my journey through this programme of study. And , if that doesn’t help me to stick to my New Year’s resolution, I don’t know what will!