All that glitters must surely be from Essex

All that glitters must surely be from Essex
Oil and glitter on canvas

Monday, 1 September 2014

The importance of a sky!

In the final days of my summer break before starting the new school year, I took myself off to the studio for a few hours today.  On the first day of September I found myself wondering how long it will be before I plug the heater back in for winter.  I love my studio space...but it is so cold in the winter, so I painted today in what I'm sure will be the last last of the summer light...and warmth!

Today my attention was on my St Botolph's painting.  Underpainting nice and dry, I began to add thin glazes of greys, blues and white to give depth.

Using linseed oil to make the colour more transparent
I ensured that the colour of the underpainting was still
visible underneath.

During the Reformation St Botolphs, like many reli-
gious buildings in Britain, was demolished.  The fires
of the Reformation destroyed buildings, purged heretics and swept away centuries of history, art, ceremony and belief.
Therefore the sky in this painting is so important as it is painted in a literal and symbolic sense.

To further reveal the underpainting, I used a cloth to rub into the wet paint - having mixed the paint with linseed oil, the paint comes off almost cleanly, showing the colour beneath.

Here I leave some of the cloth marks still showing, existing almost as a cut away to the colour beneath.

Using a fan brush I can blend the fresh layers of paint into the underpainting beneath to give a more subtle finish.

It is difficult to balance both a sense of serenity (to visit the ruins of the priory it is nothing if not a beautifully quiet and reflective place) with the recognition of the violent destruction that happened here.  That I suppose is the challenge of the whole painting.

To both convey a landscape's present and past in one painting.

I often find in my work, as used by landscape painters past and present;  that sky proves to be a very effective and emotive way of creating calm....but with a wicked sense of foreboading!!

 Like my other work in progress (Balkerne Gate, also in Colchester - which you can see photo's of in previous posts) I am attempting to capture the past, present and future of the landscape - to do this the sky has to be absolutely right on both!

Once I begin work on the painting of the ruins of the priory itself I'm sure that the sky will require more attention.

For today, this is where I left it, more photo's of it's progress to come in the following weeks......

Friday, 25 July 2014

Back in the studio....

It has been quite a while since I have been in the studio; my full time job as a teacher takes an awful lot of time and energy.  Creativity is a difficult and fragile thing; so after quite a few months that have been difficult to say the least...painting has been one of the last things that has been on my mind - even though I had found myself missing my studio space and the peace and quiet of painting.

And so today I went back into the studio, music on and that was it - it felt fantastic to be back painting again, and I am very focused on completing the two pieces I am working on at the moment.  Although both are as yet untitled they are a continuation of my "Essex" series.  One is of Balkerne Gate (see my previous posts), the Roman gateway in the wall around Colchester, and the ruins of St Botolphs Priory; again within the city walls of Colchester.

Both are fascinating landmarks with very human stories, which is why I am painting them.

So today I worked on the underpainting of the sky for the St Boltolphs piece...

I began by adding and then blending red, cadmium red, and cad yellow with then some brilliant yellow to lift and add light.  Into this I then worked grey and contiued to mix differing shades before finally adding a blue to give richness and add drama.

Once all colour had been added I then used a fan brush to blend the colours and take bake the brushmarks.  As this is the under-painting I didn't want the brushstrokes to be too visible as I will go on to paint transluscent layers of colour over the top at a later stage when it's dry.

So below are closer details of the surface of the canvas; I now need to leave it several days to dry before working into it any further.  

Keep coming back to see the progress.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

How to underpaint a Roman wall....and why you never never forget your flask!

After a very busy few months, it was back into the studio today to continue with my current 2 pieces, my pa of the Balkerne Gate and St Botolphs's, both in Colchester.  Having got half way to the studio before realising I had left my sketchbook at home with the work I would need to continue with the St Botolph's piece, the decision was made for me to concentrate on Balkerne gate for today.

In my previous posts you will see the work I have done so far on this piece, today was about the underpainting on the gate.

I decided to use the same Indian Red as I had used in the underpainting for the sky.

 It's a very warm teracotta colour, that I'm using to highlight it's Roman origins.  The brincks in the wall are still visibly red in colour but have changed colour due to erosion, time and pollution.
By hinting at the brickwork detail, although this will be painted over at a later stage, it will aloow me to follow some of the lines when I do the overpainting.

With some colour added to the floor it was time to bring in dome tomes to help give it definition and depth.  Black at this stage would be too severe so instead I began to mix Steel Blue, into the Indian Red.  This was the colour I had used for the sky, so Iwas almost painting the direct reversal for the foreground as I had for the background
I wasn't sure if this would give it too much of a purple hue, but i was pleased with the results.

I began working in the darker tones gradually as I didn't want to overwhelm the balance of the piece.
at this point it would have been good to stand back with a cuppa whilst I decided on my next move.  Only I realised not only had I forgotten my sketchbook but also my flask.  Now this was a crisis as far as i was concerned....I cannot remeber the last time I painted without a cup of tea or coffee and I can say it is not an experience I wish to repeat.  It is practically improssible to be creative without a hot beverage!!

Without much choice I had to power through.  I decoded to add some highlights, but not with white as this would be too much of a washout for the colours.  I wanted to keep it warm so began the hunt around my space for yellow.  it wasn't quite the shade i was looking fact i'm not sure what shade it was, but it was the only one I had *note to self, stop on the way home to purchase a better shade of yellow*.

When mixed with the Indian Red it actually worked quite well (but I still stopped ont he way home anyway!)

By using an the blue to give the structural defination, this will help me to add much more depth with the overpainting later and not lose the larger areas of tone when I add a lot more of the brickwork detail later.

So I left the studio today, pleased with how it's developing.  Next week i need to remember to take my sketchbook so that I can make a start on the St Botolph's piece and will NEVER AGAIN forget to take my falsk to the studio - schoolgirl error, Eve....schoolgirl error!