Rob Adams a Painter's Blog painter's progress

March 30, 2011

First Signs of Spring

Filed under: London,Painting,Watercolour — Tags: , , , , , , , — Rob Adams @ 10:23 am

Despite a fair bit of commercial work I have been trying to keep up the painting expeditions. It is sometimes hard to find the impetus to go out but nearly always worth it once you do. I think my next month’s task must be to do some larger pictures en plein air it can become a habit to get comfortable with a certain format, so I think I will go up a notch to 20in by 16in this of course brings with it practical issues of handling wet boards, pochade being too small etc. But not insurmountable I hope. Studio pictures is another area I must do more, I am still not happy with the balance of free handling and the consideration that needs to make up a studio work. So far I am mostly not getting the sense of “completeness” I wish to attain. It is always hard to get the balance of self criticism right, I have gone through stages where I mentally trashed every painting, finding nothing of merit in them. But this attitude is very destructive and just as bad as viewing your own work in an overly positive light. It is just as important I feel to see in your own work where you have succeeded as where you have fallen short, without some balance in your assessment of you own efforts it is hard to judge what area of your execution needs to be rethought and improved. On with some daubs, March has brought some fine subjects and some very welcome clear sunny days. Most images can be clicked for a larger view.



Little Venice, London, canal, barges, lock, water, oil, painting, plein air

This was an expedition with the Brass Monkeys to Little Venice the wind was very brisk and cold but there were glimmers and dashes of sunlight that enlivened the scene. In this one the tonal balance was quite tricky I had to repaint the wall on the left twice darkening it each time. On the one hand you want to get your tones as they are in the real world, but on the other our brains make rapid on the fly adjustments to our perceptions to lighten and see into the shadows. This causes beginners to make all the shadowed areas too light reducing the contrasts and drama in the scene. To some extent the eye will make the same adjustments when looking at a painting, seeing further into the shadows etc, but a painting is seen in a slightly different way to an actual scene so I try to bring out the shadows with colour.


Little Venice, London, Canal, Barge, water, Oil painting, plein air

The other painting of the day, quite a busy subject but I couldn’t resist having a go. The restless water is a bit too dominant I feel so I might come back to this scene on a calmer day. Mind you the place I had to stand caused me to be a hazard to cyclists who rounded the blind corner behind me too quickly. It would be just my luck to cause one to end up in the drink!


Daffodils, Deptford, London, Spring, Plein air, oil painting

Spring at last! These daffodils are only yards from my front door. They were great fun to paint and I was done in under an hour. I was almost surprised when I stepped back and could see nothing more it needed… if only all paintings were as trouble free.


St Mary le Strand, London, The strand, church, painting, plein air.

I almost bit off more than I could chew here, the drawing seemed to take forever and the light was very flat making it hard to find a good balance of contrasts. Once the traffic was done though it seemed to gain a purpose as it made an interesting contrast with St Mary le Strand marooned in the middle of the road. It may seem unlikely to us but the London Metropolitan Council in around 1905 tried hard to get it demolished as it was an inconvenience to traffic.


Aylesford, Kent, river, Medway, plein air, oil painting

A lovely day so I was desperate to get out having been rather mewed up at home due to various ailments. Underneath this is another picture of the bridge at Aylesford. Alas it went so wrong that I ended up scraping it off! I was so eager to get painting that I ignored the fact that the light and subject were not really worth the bother of painting, I would have been better to sit and read the paper and awaited the light to improve. This scene made up for it though the light was going over rapidly and I had to rather rush it.


London, Deptford, spring, blossom, oil painting, plein air

London, Deptford, spring, blossom, oil painting, plein air


London, Deptford, spring, blossom, oil painting, plein air

Three blossom paintings nearby to my home the brilliant spring light made fantastic contrasts. The cars become a bit of a task but I am getting better at a sort of shorthand that suggests them rather than defines too much. This way they sit into the picture better. I actually paint them in with more detail than they will eventually have then simplify them once the form is established.


Isle of Dogs, Thames, Tug, water, marine, watercolour, plein air, watercolor, London

Lastly another outing with the Brass Monkeys. I don’t find the glass towers of Canary Wharf very inspiring but they made an interesting contrast with the old tug boat. I was lucky that a gap in the buildings lit up the funnel, though it was only like that for a short while. I might try this scene again in the studio using oils.


  1. Fantastic work Rob, a fine collection. Love the back street scenes.


    Comment by Yorky — March 30, 2011 @ 1:58 pm

  2. Thanks Doug, it’s amazing how you tend to overlook the subjects just on your doorstep. I have been meaning to paint the blossom in the streets around my house for the last 15 years!

    Comment by admin — March 30, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress

error: Content is protected !!