Rob Adams a Painter's Blog painter's progress

October 5, 2011

More from Henley upon Thames and a few Life Paintings

Some varied painting from the last week or so. The Autumn is getting going now, but the last few days have been a traditional “Indian Summer” with me baking in the sun whilst I painted the river. Yes rivers again. After last week in Henley I got asked by a fellow painter to join them by the Thames… at Henley. With the light so fantastic this time of year who could demur. My success rate with oils is still concerning me, with one in 3 being wiped off. I think I must develop a better shorthand style that is a little more sketchy which will allow me to leave more areas unresolved. It maybe just the order I do things, in the final oil I am posting in this update I almost completed my centre of interest (the lock gates) before setting out to complete the surroundings which has, I feel, made a more focused painting. Both the others alas show too much of an overall spread of attention which doesn’t help the compositions. Oddly I don’t have the same problem with watercolour. Another thing that I have to face is that I am just not very keen on paintings painted on lovely sunny days. Give me a stormy day day that mixes moments of sun with downpours and I am more at ease. I think it is the unpredictability of changeable conditions, you have a choice of lighting as the weather passes over your subject, some parts thrown into gloom while others are momentarily brilliantly lit. With a consistent clear day you just have what is before you, so subject choice becomes key. Probably that just means I have to take my oils out on more sunny days so I that I can resolve the issue. Life drawing has got going again which I have really missed, as I was feeling bold I took my watercolours which was tempting fate, but as is usual when your confidence is up, things are easier and I enjoyed my session immensely. Some images can be clicked for a larger view as always.



Watercolour, Henley, Thames, Surrey, watercolour, Rob Adams, painting, plein air

This one almost ended up in the bin as I rather fluffed the background trees on site, But a few unifying washes and a slightly different crop improved things enough to save it from destruction. It’s odd but a week away from a painting makes it far easier to spot what a picture needs to rescue it. In the in the event it was a few overall washes to subdue the tone range in the trees, in reality they were quite brightly lit on the right hand side, but this just drew too much attention from the boats making the composition unsatisfying. 1/4 sheet Arches. One thing I must do for painting these larger pictures plein air is get a bigger squirrel mop to cover the acreage!


Henley on Thames, Thames, watercolour, dawn, river, rob adams, watercolour, plein air, painting

Dawn… It’s hard dragging yourself out of bed in time to drive to where there might be a good picture to paint. Note the “might” I have got out of bed for plenty of dawns that were rather underwhelming once they manifested themselves, making you wonder why you are sitting there with your brush poised. This one wasn’t in that league it was in the “How the heck do I get any of this down in 20 min” league. By the time I had finished the sun was straight into my eyes and I needed coffee and breakfast as an urgent priority.

Henley upon Thames, Thames, river, boats, sun, oil painting, art, Rob Adams. plein air

Almost the same spot for the next one but a change in media. A pleasant scene, almost too pleasant, not made up my mind about this one yet.


Henley, Thames, river, sun, barge, oil painting, plein air, Rob Adams

It’s only fair to post a few misses as well as hits, this one should have been fine but the light was too high for my tastes and the scene just too damn pretty. I might add a rower to make a focus beneath the church, and possibly a hang glider crashing to break up that block of tree on the left … ho hum desperate measures.


Boat house, Thames, Henley, watercolour, plein air, Rob Adams, painting

Last one of the day, a quick sketch of the boathouses at Henley, the light was moving very fast now so I had to get this done in 40 min. It’s often the way when you are constrained by time the picture will turn out better than it would have done if the time allowed had been longer. The figures are key for this, stitching the two halves of the painting together.


Deepcut, canal, derelict, locks, gates, oil painting, plein air, Rob Adams

Next day in Deepcut, this is derelict canal near Bagshot Surrey. The channel was mostly dry so I was able to get close to the remaining water. The best painting of the trip I think. A few watercolours from life to finish off.


Life drawing, watercolour, painting, Rob Adams


Life painting, Rob Adams



Nude, life drawing, watercolour, Rob Adams

The last three were about 10 min each, it’s fun to do several drawings of the same pose.

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