Rob Adams a Painter's Blog painter's progress

January 16, 2011

Getting the year underway.

It’s always a little difficult getting painting again after being away, especially after being spoilt by wonderful subjects every way I turned. I wish I was organised enough to set a program of work, goals to be achieved, new techniques to be mastered etc, but I ain’t so there it is. My first thing to try was to paint some studio watercolours from the many photos from my trip to Ireland, with the thought in mind that I should get some done while the feeling of being there was still fresh.

Every painting is started with a feeling of expectation and a certain overconfidence, as you start to work this is certain to fade alas as the reality of how damned hard it is and how inadequate you are for the task sinks in. It is astonishing that you can so forget this uncomfortable truth that it comes as an unpleasant surprise each time. However as you wrestle with the thing you start to get in control of the process and then if all goes well the painting starts to take on a bit of life independent of its creator… unfortunately the artist will then become too full of himself and proceed to throw away all the gains by overdoing the whole thing and killing it dead. Ah well enough complaining here’s the last few day’s output.


Watercolor, watercolour, painting, Ireland, eire, clare

This is one that really put me through the mill and was nearly abandoned. I made the error of laying in the first wash that underlay the shrubbery in too pale a tone and too neutral a hue. This proceeded to haunt me throughout the painting, I knew I had a good chance of fixing it at the end but in the meantime I was stuck with the whole thing looking terrible which was a little disheartening. It was a nervous moment when I finally came to lay in the final unifying washes with wide flat brush. The original picture was wider than the crop above and I am now unsure which is better so I’ll put the wider below so you can judge for yourselves. Both are clicky for larger image


Clare, Ireland, watercolour, watercolor, painting

This is a wee bit better for colour too.


Clare, Ireland, Watercolour, watercolor, painting

Another view of the great Christmas frost! This was entirely painted with a one inch flat sable, even the thin lines are just done with the corner. Fun to do and a nice simple composition with the cold and warm separated almost on a diagonal. I have since slightly softened the branches on the main tree. It was only after looking at it on screen that I felt they were too prominent. I often find this, that the screen image makes you see it afresh and errors or possibilities for improvement can be spotted. Sometimes I even do variations in Photoshop before altering the painting.


Wales, Newport, watercolour, watercolor, painting

Here is a picture that went unusually smoothly. Mind you a subject I have painted many times. It was fun to finish the snowy road at the end leaving only the side lit bits in the white of the paper. There is almost nothing to the road but it is a satisfying trick.


Cannon St, London, Oil, plein air, painting, street, pedestrians

I had intended to meet Brass Monkey folks a fair bit further west of here, but as my train came into Cannon St and the rain had relented for a moment I couldn’t resist doing this sketch which is a scene I am doing a larger studio picture of so this will be very useful. Usually I put the figures in later but the muse was with me and I and I dropped these folks in with with hardly a duff stroke… helps of course that city types all dress in dark tones which makes it easier to block in the shapes. For such complex structures as top right I usually just note the main perspective lines then finish it later there is no benefit in putting such elements in on site as it is simple but consumes time that would be better spent on other areas. Click for larger.


London, british museum, steps, watercolour, watercolor, painting, plein air

On my way west I passed the British Museum and couldn’t resist sketching the people dwarfed by the huge columns. I might return to this as It has potential… on a sunnier day though. It started raining heavily before I had all the lines in the columns done.


Rain, street, Charing cross, London, plein air, oil, pochade, painting

The rain had really started to get heavy so I abandoned the idea of meeting others and set off down Charing cross. I went in to a bookshop to browse and when I came out it was into a different day! The sky had cleared and the sky was lit up pink, with the wet roads the whole effect was stunning. I decided to try and get something down holding my pochade, setting up my tripod would have been impossible in such a busy spot. So I put my back to a post and transferred all the tubes of paint to my pockets and set to using the colours from earlier with the addition of Magenta. This is tiny only 7 in by 5 in but was very satisfying and I will try and get a larger studio painting done using this and the snaps I took.

That’s all for now I have some commercial work in the next week or two so painting time may well be a bit restricted.

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