Alford in the snow – first stage

 

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Underpainting

This is a return to an idea that I have used in both oils and watercolours.  Painting the picture in monochrome helps me to assess the tonal balance, and makes the composition easier to plan.  Some of this underpainting will become part of the finished painting so I chose to use French Ultramarine to add vigour to the shadows. I was re-using an old canvas, but the white acrylic I used to cover the original picture was contaminated with rust.  That was a piece of serendipity, as the pale orangy glow is making the blue sing already!

I’m using a palette knife for these early stages, so as to get the shapes and tones down quickly.  The composition works quite well – the long curving hedge meets the short straight one near the church where the dark holly takes the eye upward to the spire.  I put in the figure at this point – figures always draw the eye – but it also gives a sense of scale. The dark foreground on the right frames the church and cottage neatly.  The white gate could have been a second focus making for uncomfortable viewing as it is too far from the spire.  However it seems to be behaving itself.  Maybe the tree above it helps to draw the eye upward too.

 

Sketches

Cross Ostrich
Cross Ostrich

This is one of the things I  enjoy about watercolour.  Just doodling, really, but they express movement and energy in the painted and in the painter!

So, we have a pretty cross ostrich, the penetrating stare, the tightly closed mouth (beak), looking altogether mean.  Such a dramatic face to paint, such a lot said in a small space.

Oranges
Oranges

Then, I have always been enchanted by Hazel Soan’s oranges, so this is my homage to Hazel, very derivative but great fun to do on a wet afternoon to get the painting juices going.  I love the bright orange and the free brush strokes.

In A Hurry
In A Hurry

Now how about these two fellows racing down the railway platform?  Wet-in-wet can work wonderfully well in these circumstances. The paint runs seem to enhance the hurry, everything incomplete suggesting no time to finish.  You can tell it’s a railway platform because of the chap in the back with a peaked cap on!  Little things mean a lot.

Christopher Robin
Christopher Robin

This little lad is wandering down the lanes of yesteryear, the pale tones, the misty background, the bright sunshine all conspiring to make an very Twenty First century young man reprise his Greatgrandad – such simple things creating atmosphere.

Summer flowers
Summer flowers

Flowers – this is more of a study than a sketch – have been a blind spot for me for years.  In all my years of painting I have achieve only two paintings of flowers that satisfied me despite numerous attempts in various media.  Then Hazel Soan rode in to the rescue again!  (I think you can tell I’m a fan of hers!).  She suggested that flowers have a basic shape, saucer, cone, plate, bell, etc., and that form can be expressed three dimensionally.  Paint that form first before you think of petals or stamens and your flowers come alive on the page.  Then you can have the fun of all the detail.  Brilliant!  And, dear reader, it works.   The sea holly had the white sparkles scratched in afterwards, adding a physical 3D effect, and just painting background where the white flowers needed to be defined keeps the whole thing airy.  The vase was painted last of all in a few sweeping strokes.

 

 

Why “Serendipity Sometimes”?

Any  artist will tell you of those special moments when all goes more that well, when every brush-stroke counts, when the painting flows from the end of the brush, when life is full of Serendipity.

But, it only happens sometimes.

So this blog will largely be about those times when it doesn’t happen – but I hope will include those blissful moments when it does!

I hope to change the contents every week on Tuesdays about 10 o’clock!