One of the finest Autumns I remember and unlike many other years I have got to paint it! Michael Richardson of the esteemed Wapping group has instigated a “Brass Monkey” winter painting session on a Wednesday the first two weeks of which were excellent with some of the better insulated members attending, hopefully it will grow to a larger group, the test will come when the temperature really drops! It’s great to meet up with other painters to natter about the craft, something, oddly, I’ve not done a great deal of in 30 years of being a professional artist. I have a queue of studio paintings ready to do so I’ll be busy indoors and out hopefully. I’ll finish off this post with a few life drawings but I’ll try to keep the rest in order of execution.
This is done from a sketch I posted previously, for the sketch I only had a tiny board but this is 26in by 14in. I had a few photos which show the trees
as very dark so I took all my tone values from my sketch. Cameras see shadows very differently to the eye. This is I have read due to us needing to see
danger lurking in the shadows, which makes sense I suppose. My method here was to very roughly adjust the different areas in the photo refs to match
the ones in the sketch. I have mounted a screen by my easel so I can paint from a screen image rather than a printout. I find the luminous screen image
more compelling as a guide for some reason. I am still trying to find a balance between the freshness of a sketch and the consideration that a studio
painting needs. This one is a small step forward in that regard I feel. Picture can be clicked for larger view.
I arrived early in Green Park everything looked very beautiful with the light streaming in ribbons through the trees. As there was a tube strike there
were streams of commuters cutting through the park coming from Victoria station which gave the park a strange air, a little like a scene from a
disaster movie. This is 14in by 10 in and took about an hour. As with all “woodland” scenes how much to simplify is tricky. If you turn it all into
blocks of tone you loose the transparency and feel of the veils of foliage, but if you break it all up too much it becomes too pointillist for my liking.
Here I’ve done the back layer in average tones of leaf and sky painted in broad areas then added just a single pass of richer detail keeping it to a
minimum. Click picture to enlarge.
I only had to walk a few yards for my next location, this had a lovely mixture of yellowing leaves and the richer oranges. I have actually had to buy a
tube of Hardings permanent orange as it gives a cleaner result than a mix. When I started the ground and the path were a carpet of leaves, but the
men on the left of the picture came and blew them all away! Click for larger, 10in by 8in
Having had enough of trees I went across into Shepherd Market. I decided on a 14in by 10 in as I am trying to do plein airs a little larger. The key to this
sort of scene is careful underlying drawing. Some painters appear to believe that because the brushwork is going to be quite free that the drawing can
be looser. The opposite is the case though I feel as expressive brushwork need a good underlying structure to work. The most common thing that mars
otherwise good sketches is careless drawing. On a tactical note I painted the car in first as I know from experience they always drive off just as you are
half way through! Click picture for larger.
This is a bit of a mongrel… the painting not the dog… when I visited Greenwich park with my good friend Anna I took my point and snap. I looked
at the photos to find I had a great picture of her and the dog but the background was not good. So when a few days later the weather was similar I
blocked her and the foreground in on a 10in by 8in panel and set off to find a better setting. After a bit of trotting about I sat and painted in the scenery
which was grand fun and made for a very rapid painting with no difficulty at all in fitting the two days together. The path of course made things a lot easier.
Click for larger.
Early morning on Hungerford bridge. This was quite frantic as the sun was rising and I knew I would have to move once the stream of early morning
commuters built up. I painted all the basic areas in as quickly as I could but left out the final lining details and foreground figures. Before getting out of
the way I did some very quick figure sketches of people walking towards me. Then I retreated to a nearby bench by the river and put in all the line details
with a rigger and finished the foreground people off from my sketches. I started this in a fit of enthusiasm fully expecting to be scraping it out, but it
goes to show it’s always worth taking a risk. Click for larger.
Then I went a short way and was lured into trying one of the fine sphinx that adorn the base of Cleopatra’s column. Quite a complicated subject but
I made sure the drawing was all there before I started on the colour. It only took an hour and a half all told. Click for larger.
Here’s the sheet of figures done of the commuters. Each figure took less than 30 sec. It’s very good for your visual memory!
Some more figures done the end of the day in Covent Garden.
Finally some recent life drawings to finish off.