Now what could this be?
What do reckon this is? Before you answer - here's another question. Have you ever seen a painting in a book or on your screen and thought how good it was only to be disappointed when you see the real thing? I'm sure we all have but what about the other way round. Could it be detrimental to a painting to not see the original? I use the internet a lot to showcase my work and I have no issues with the quality of the images I upload to my website, Facebook etc, etc. However for me there is no substitute for seeing the original close up and personal. I would like to illustrate this by using one of my paintings. I am not going to show you which one until the end. One of the drawbacks of not seeing a painting in real life is that a lot of the details can be easily overlooked. If you only see a digital image of a painting on your laptop or mobile device it is very difficult to grasp the scale or context of the piece. The size of a painting is very important because it is chosen by the artist so he or she can fully accommodate the ideas that have inspired in the first place. This particular painting is 30" x 22" and with a 3" mount and 1" frame width it takes up a sizeable chunk of any wall. Here's another bit....
What do you reckon...a flower of some sort? This will help:
Once the flower is seen in context it is much easier for the mind to process. These are buttercups. I drew them and added masking fluid before painting over them. When the painting was absolutely dry I removed the mask and painted the flowers - winsor yellow for the petals with a tiny drop of winsor red in the centre while still wet. So here's your next one:
Right - obviously a hedgerow. It's meant to be hawthorn painted quickly with reds blues and yellows mixing together wet and wet and then darker branches and leaves painted in after the first wash was dry. Let's move upwards a bit....
So here's the top branch of the hawthorn hedge and now we see some details of the landscape. This could only be the glorious Yorkshire Wolds with its undulating contours, large fields, big sky and characteristic yellow oilseed rape fields in the background. Here's another feature:
It's an old chapel but clearly abandoned and derelict so let's see how it sits in the landscape:
Once it's surrounded by trees it looks even more lonely and sad. But this is not a sad painting. On the contrary I was inspired by the exuberance of spring life all around me - the lush greens, the cheerful flowers and the singing birds - a celebration of riotous renewal. I hope you have enjoyed looking at some details from my painting and if you have got this far then I reckon you deserve to see the full monty....so here it is...
So the strange looking object at the start turned out to be a fence post. Did you guess right? I hope you have enjoyed looking at these little details and that they have added to your enjoyment of the whole painting. Anyway one last little test before I leave. Can you find another symbol of new life and renewal in the painting? Let me know if you do. Glenn
Living in the Northern Hemisphere, January is not a good time for me as an artist. The days are too cold so it is not very pleasant getting out walking let alone painting. And because they are also so short, there is less daylight in my studio and I much prefer natural daylight for working. I have all the usual aids like daylight lamps etc but they are just not the same. Now I know there are plenty of hardy souls getting up at sunrise and heading off for the wide blue yonder who will be wondering what I am moaning about. Good luck to them but it is not for me – I am definitely not a morning person. So here’s a summer painting to cheer us all up a bit. That was more like it. We had discovered this delightful spot by chance while looking for a place to stop and enjoy some fish and chips one evening. I just had to come back and paint it. My last blog was about my best ever painting. For me this is definitely one of them. It just captures the essence of the quintessential English countryside on a lazy summer’s afternoon. I didn’t get wet feet because the stream turns sharply so I was able to relax on the bank and enjoy the day. The strange tree shape is the focus but there were lots more going on that I had to try and capture particularly with the water. It is a fast running stream which had lovely ethereal reflections. It is also crystal clear which meant that under the shadows of the overhanging trees you could see the bottom of it. Interesting because it meant I could introduce the same colour of the river bank into the water to give a nice harmonious tone to the foreground. Add the shadows for some nice contrast and bluer tones in the background to invite you in and all done….except for the ducks. I have to admit that over the years I have had a few ‘issues’ with adding wild life to my paintings so was a bit reluctant this time. However they are such an integral part of the scene that I just had to bite the bullet and go for it. Happily I think they turned out fine but I stuck with just these two rather than tempt fate by adding any more. This painting has never been on public display but hangs on my bedroom wall being the first thing I see when I awake each morning so it’s always summer in our house.
Would you like to know which the best painting I have ever done is? And what about you – which is the best one you have ever done? I might be able to give you the answer to that but while you are having a little think about it let me explain why I am asking. If you use Facebook you will have seen the various painting challenges doing the rounds. I was invited to take part in a watercolour one and found the whole exercise fascinating, inspiring and so, so enjoyable. The wealth of talent out there in all mediums is staggering and it was great to see work by artists from all over the world many of whom I have never come across before. For my series I chose paintings from a while back. This was a great reason to look back through the archives and pick out some old favourites. I was pleased with the way most of them had stood the test of time. I was surprised too how clearly I remembered doing them once they were in front of me and what I was trying to achieve at the time. So how do you pick which ones to post in a challenge like this? I posted in sets – moonlights, beachscapes, winter scenes, sunsets etc and used the ones I thought were most suitable so it was fairly easy in the end. But what if the challenge was to post your best painting ever? That would be a lot harder. I am very pleased with the painting shown above but is it the best I have ever done? Well I think I have captured the essence of Woldgate here in East Yorkshire. The composition works well leading into the painting and beyond as your eyes follow the road into the distance. The colours are fine and more importantly so are the tonal values making the scene appear very natural. The light effects are consistent with the sun shining from the right giving plenty of light and dark contrasts and the details – flowers, foliage, puddles and showers – give the eye something to dwell on. The sky though cloudy is still ‘unfussy’ and blends in well with the overall effect. It is not photographic yet gives a strong feeling of reality even though obviously a painting. In short it achieves what I set out to paint – a traditional English watercolour landscape. But much as I like it this is not my best ever painting. Like every painting I have ever done there are a few little things I would now do differently or take a bit more care with. If you are a painter then I suspect you feel much the same about your own work. So then which is my best painting and which is yours? Simple really …..always the NEXT one of course!
This is the third painting in my 'In the Beginning' series. It has stood up quite well and fortunately I have a good image of it to show you. Early in my painting career I spent so much time painting trees that I became known as ‘Treeman’ but I was and still am fascinated by the wonderful shapes and light patterns you find in woods and forests. Add some water for reflections and you have the perfect subject for watercolour. I can’t remember where this is but I did spend a lot of time in Cropton Forest at that time so that is the probable location. No matter - there’s a couple of interesting techniques in the painting – techniques that I still use today. Bit of masking fluid to start with of course - this is vital to keep the water line safe so I can be free with the washes. Now when you remove the mask at the end of the painting you are left with hard white shapes. Can you see how I softened the hard edges in the foreground by using a wet brush? As long as you have a bit of kitchen roll handy to dry immediately it works quite well. The background forest was just a mixture of yellow, red and blue to which I added some salt as it was drying. The salt absorbs the moisture around it creating these interesting shapes which look as natural as foliage. I am often asked when the right time to add the salt is. The answer is when it works! It really is a case of trial, error and experience because if you add it too soon it can absorb too much of the wet paint and if you add it too late….it has nothing to soak up. But keep having a go because when it works – it works. Some of the texture marks on the river bank were made with my fingers. It works on a similar process as the salt – the dry skin absorbs a bit of moisture and the whorls of your fingerprints are left on the paper. I think it just gives a very natural ‘look’ to the painting which I like.
Wow - what a great start to 2015. This original painting was bought last night. The purchasers had come across my work at Bridlington Spa during our 'Double Vision 2014' exhibition last October. They bought two of my paintings and a print by Merice. However they had both noticed this painting and later contacted me to see if it was still available. Happily it was, so arrangements were made and it was picked up last evening. They are a lovely couple and with three paintings and a print, I guess they are now my latest collectors. The painting was one of three in my "Follow the Leader" series - a series based on the work of the great Victorian artist Benjamin Williams Leader RA - and is the last of the trio to be sold. It's a classic landscape that I painted in the traditional manner starting with the sky and working my way forwards. You can see that the composition is nearly two thirds sky which can be painted quickly and loosely using the traditional 'wet in wet' technique. It's always good when you get the sky right as it sets the tone of the painting and....your painting is already two thirds done! I masked the fence so I could paint over it confident that the strong shapes were protected for later. I used my usual six colours - winsor red, winsor yellow, ultramarine blue, brown madder, antwerp blue and payne's gray - so I knew harmony was guaranteed. I added a little raw sienna for a bit of body (no pun intended!) on the gravestones and flagstones in the path. I settled on the same colour as the sky for the ploughed field so it blended in better. Once I removed the mask, the fence made a strong statement and vied with the yew tree as the main focal point. But it wasn't until I added the shadows that the painting really sprang to life. There is a tinge of sadness that all three of the series have gone so quickly but I am glad they have gone to homes where I know they will be appreciated. I can still enjoy the image though on a wide range of goods from prints and cards to tote bags.
Professional artist now semi retired and enjoying being eccentric!