Friday, 17 June 2016

Painting the Seven Sisters 2016

The Seven Sisters at Cuckmere Haven, Sussex
I rarely paint the same subject more than once but there is something so magical about the Seven Sisters that I just can't resist!
My walk took me up the steep slope of Seaford Head and along the cliff top to Cuckmere Haven. it's a lovely walk with absolutely stunning views in all direction.
Seaford Head to Cuckmere Haven
Although very warm it stayed rather cloudy so I decided to explore the beach and rock pools at Hope Gap while I waited to see if the sun would break through.
Rock pools and groynes
It's a wonderful place for children to explore....... and me!
I continued on to the beach where the river Cuckmere snakes it's way into the sea. Even on a cloudy day it was an enchanting place to sit and watch the world go by.
video

After about an hour the skies started to clear and I was able  to take some reference photos for painting. I only intended to paint one but couldn't make up my mind which view to go with....so....I painted two!
                                         "Seven Sisters View "
                                Acrylic on canvas 24"x 12"
"Seven Sisters View" Acrylic painting on canvas
 

                        " Where the river meets the sea" (Seven Sisters)
 
Painting of Cuckmere Haven and the Seven Sisters "Where the river meets the sea" 


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Saturday, 11 June 2016

Buttercups, tractors and the South Downs Society

Buttercups, tractor painting and the South Downs
It's been a busy but rather wonderful week. Summer is here and I've been out and about on several walks enjoying the sunshine and scenery.
In between I have also been  working on a commission painting.
 Earlier in the year I was asked if I would paint a vintage Fordson tractor. Now....I'm no tractor expert and although I was given a reference photo I prefer to work from my own. Not only can I  capture the angles and details that I need but it ensures that my paintings are original .
So my quest began! As luck would have it I spotted an advert for the Cuckoo Fair at Laughton ( just out side of Lewes) a big country fair embracing rural life from times gone by.
The Cuckoo Fair, Laughton,East Sussex
 On the day of the event the weather was bright and sunny and to my delight I found just what I needed!
Now all I needed was a backdrop to create a suitable composition.
I chose a landscape view from Lewes Brooks , at this time of year bright yellow blankets of buttercups fill the fields and the South Downs are rich green ....perfect!
The view includes glimpses of the picturesque village of Rodmell , Swanborough Hill and Kingston Ridge.
I have to admit that it wasn't an easy painting , it took about 45 hours and just as many cups of coffee! Ha ha ! But I got there in the end....
                              "Fordson on the Brooks" 
                                   Acrylic on canvas 24"x 18"
Painting a vintage Fordson tractor 

   ....and the fiddly, time consuming bits! 
Close up of the Fordson engine detail
 Now as you are by now aware I am a great lover of the South Downs .
 They are of course female....voluptuous curves adorned with floral gems and scented like no other! 
View East from Telscombe

I have recently discovered the South Downs Society. 
In their own words ...

"We fight campaigns against inappropriate development and fund conservation projects
We take an active role in safeguarding and improving the rights of way network and extending areas of open access land across the National Park
We encourage the public to learn more about the National Park
As the National Park Society we watch over the activities of the National Park Authority as a challenging friend including suggesting things they might do to enhance the National Park"

 A few weeks ago I entered a competition on their Facebook page , it required recognizing a particular image from the South Downs. It was by total coincidence a place that I had passed on my walk that very morning! On Monday I was delighted to be informed that I had won !
My prize was a goody bag selection of their gifts that can also be purchased from their web site http://www.southdownssociety.org.uk/support-us/merchandise-2/
A gift selection from The South Downs Society
 Never was a prize so perfectly matched to it's recipient ! (The box of chocolates didn't last long enough to be photographed )
Well, only one thing to do now and that's to sit out in the garden and enjoy the sunshine with a good cup of coffee...... just PERFECT!


Friday, 27 May 2016

"Piddinghoe Reflections"

The river Ouse at Piddinghoe, Sussex
The Spring sunshine took me to Piddinghoe. A picturesque village on the banks of the river Ouse just south of Lewes.
 The church here is has an unusual round tower and surrounded by a mass of snowdrops in early Spring.
  The village also has the only remaining bottle shaped brick kiln in the country ,which you can just see behind the house...
Brick kiln at Piddinghoe
  My path took me along the river bank and past the farm where I lived for a while back in the mid 1960's. It seemed strange to think I was walking in the footsteps of my past !

It all looked so very colourful (unlike my black and white photo ) and the reflections upon the river as it headed out to sea made the view just perfect to paint! 
                                     "Piddinghoe Reflections"
"Piddinghoe Reflections" Acrylic on canvas
 
Prints, cards, bags ....
  available at Here

Finally, an extract from Rudyard Kipling's Poem "Sussex"
"And the deep ghylls that breed
Huge oaks and old, the which we hold
No more than Sussex weed;
Or south where windy Piddinghoe’s
Begilded dolphin veers
And red beside wide-bank├Ęd Ouse
Lie down our Sussex steers. "

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Painting the seaside...bit by bit....

Painting the seaside in acrylics
I have had several people asking me questions about my painting methods lately.
 Now, I'm not very good at explaining things and this is NOT a "How to do it" but rather a "How I do it" .
I thought that as I paint I could post odd bits and pieces along the way that may inspire/help someone and I'm happy to answer any questions.
Alternatively I could just waffle on...and on...and on........ 
Starting with the sea....
undiluted, System 3 acrylics. Small splodgy strokes ( no confusing art jargon here ! ) Wet on wet.
Needs to dry at least overnight before highlights can be added.

Painting in the sea...
 Pebbles...
hundreds of blobs of paint gradually increasing in size towards the foreground. When completely dry very watery washes of white highlight the sunniest areas and very watery washes of burnt sienna give depth to to the uneven surface of the beach. These are also the colours used for the deckchair frames.
Painting in the pebbles on the beach
Blanket,( and most fabrics). Lightly pencil in where the creases and folds go. Paint in the pattern. Highlight with white and add shade with a watery mix of Prussian blue + Paynes grey
 I've now completed 11 hours of painting (excluding sketching out the composition) Whilst waiting for paint to dry I have started work on other areas. The deckchair frames take the longest. They are a variety of shades/tones and need about 4-5 layers of paint...and a steady hand. I shall work on these a bit at a time.
Painting the fabrics 
 Deckchairs ....
This time just 2 coats of paint were adequate to give an even opaque base of blue (often 4-5 are required). When dry I covered the area with an extremely thin wash of white..then dabbed it off with a clean cloth . This barely shows but it helps to give a bit of texture to the fabric.
Painting the deckchair seats
 Storing surplus paint in small airtight pots will keep it usable for 2-3 weeks .

Prussian blue is used to start adding the shade on the blue areas and the fabric seam lines
Adding the fabric detail
  Most of the painting is created with very small brushes . 
Yep....takes a while with these!

Painting in progress


Starting to add some shadows and highlights whilst building up a few more layers on the deckchair frames. Work has also begun on the smaller objects. 
Adding the shadows and shading




Finally, after a long painting session and lots of cups of coffee, the composition is complete ...

"Gone Swimming"
Acrylic on canvas 24"x 18"
"Gone Swimming" Acrylic seaside painting


I hope you have  enjoyed the step by step trip to the seaside and found out something useful along the way 
The sun is now shining so I'm off for an ice cream