This is a big painting – it’s nearly as big as me! Now and again, I like to use my shoulders when painting. It’s very satisfying.
My friends are relaxing on their rooftop terrace not long after they had finished it, so there is a certain amount of relief in their pose. The ceramic pots adorning the pillars are a brilliant turquoise which I am eager to paint. The pillars themselves are built in rough pale stone. The shady garden crowding his shoulder shows dark greens, while the distant landscape is, I’m told, “very Cezanne”, no pressure there, then.
I am delighted to report that I actually drew this freehand, so my regular sketching is beginning to pay off. When the basic colours and tones were painted in, I saw that I had made both heads too big for their bodies, such a common mistake which I should be able to avoid by this time, and I’m not sure about his legs. I made the necessary adjustment to the heads – oil paints are so forgiving. This first pass of colour and tone, which took about an hour, sets the painting going and allows gross errors to be eliminated early. Now I can concentrate characterising the differing textures and tones.
This term my painting group are examining canals as they wanted to improve on trees and water, and I wanted to add some interesting shapes.
The second boat painting, in acrylic this time, concentrates on the boats and their reflections. My starting image is a reasonably good composition, though I would want to fade the sheds as they are rather dominant and detract from the collection of narrowboats.
However, my canvas is long and thin, and that encouraged me to crop the image top and bottom and lose most of the boat on the right. This will place the boats and their reflections in sharp focus.
When I come to painting, I intend to blur the shed, trees etc using the tones to show or hide the cabins. It’s all drawn up ready for action.
I suppose it’s a small journey from bridges over a river to canal boats! A watery theme perhaps?
Water colour paper has a big influence on how a painting appears. I am trying some new paper, much recommended by Hazel Soan, one of my favourite painters. It’s called Khadi paper and I found it in Jackson’s on-line Catalogue. This is hand-made in India, so each sheet is separately produced rather than in a continuous roll using 100% cotton rag. It’s acid free, and has a texture all its own.
As you can see, it works beautifully for dry brush work, making it easy to create all those broken edged trees and bushes, yet it is possible to produce a smoother wash as in the canal itself. It bellied quite a bit when I used a very wet wash but reverted to its former self as it dried.
There is more to do – the shadows are too pale for a start – but I like the way it takes the paint.
After all the painting, all the planning, all the panics, and all the brilliant ideas, collectively we made it. Setting up took a mere two hours, partly because some of the paintings are rather big, and partly because we had actually thought about it beforehand.
As you can see, we had a goodly crowd at the Private View. It was great to see so many of my friends and to meet those I have only met on-line before. There were many pleasing comments (well, they were my friends, after all), and sales were healthly too!
Among our guests were the Mayor and Mayoress of Llangollen on what turned out to be their last official engagement of their year of office. I expected a quarter of an hour visit, but they were both interested in painting and stayed for over an hour. This photo shows the Lady Mayoress (with the beautiful blonde hair which goes with the picture) and me (in red). The picture is called “Flintshire gold” and show the last and latest bridge over the Dee near Flint. Just beyond it is “Inundation” showing the Dee in Flood in Farndon.
Well, here we are! Finally I have an exhibition of all the paintings in my book “The Bridges of Dee”. We have lots of guests coming to the private view, and many others coming during May.
This time we have done lots of advertising, much more than I have done in the past. For the exhibition is not in my home area, and the book sales have been nation wide. It will be interesting to see if the increased advertising pays off, but I don’t mind if it doesn’t as it has been a fascinating experience. Besides Art Magazines and the local press, we have spread posters up and down the valley, bi-lingual ones too. The paintings encompass the whole valley and there are many people, especially in the upper valley, where Welsh is the mother tongue. So this is what it looks like in Welsh and English.
We have printed the sales cards in Welsh and English too, and have separate Welsh and English Catalogues.
The Private View is on the day this post is published, and we have the Mayor and Mayoress of Llangollen coming. I hope to bring news of the launch party next week.