This is another of my recently ‘rediscovered’ watercolours. It was probably painted about ten years ago. I don’t recall which lighthouse it portrays or what my references were but it looks to me like an experiment in working with a very limited palette. This is a technique I have used throughout my painting life as it sharpens up tonal control and guarantees harmony though I notice a little area of yellow in the right hand sky. Whether by accident or design I think it enhances the scene and so the painting works. What do you think?
Isn't it strange how we sometimes overlook the obvious. This painting proves the point. Several years ago I was commissioned to do a painting on the 'Thieve's Highway' trail at Sutton Bank. This trail starts at the White Horse car park and meanders it's way up the steep sided bank towards the escarpment summit. It is much easier to negotiate than the direct climb up the steps to the summit but whether this made it more amenable to 'thieves' is open to conjecture. What cannot be doubted though is the beauty of the location. To add to its attractions was the abundance of wild flowers gracing the side of the trail. My client was particularly interested in the Rosebay Willow Herb or 'fireplant' growing in abundance there. They certainly are a stately sight growing up to five foot tall and swaying with the breeze. Judy, my client, showed me her preferred spot and then she and Merice headed up the steps for a walk along the plateau while I sat down and made several sketches. When they returned we retired to the Byland Arms where I indulged in the most expensive steak pie ever courtesy of the Judy's largesse. It certainly was a hard days work but hey....someone has to do it. Back in my studio I produced several paintings and let Judy choose her favourite which she duly did. The others were consigned to obscurity until very recently when I 'rediscovered' this among a cache of old paintings. Because Judy didn't want it I had simply discarded it but on seeing it again I realised it is a lovely painting (even though I say so myself!). I think she may have made the wrong choice but I think she was more interested in the flowers rather than the scene as a whole. Because it hadn't fitted her brief I had missed the obvious - it is a painting in its own right. However I am now pleased to rectify that mistake and show it to you. For me it just works...filled with the sights and emotions (and tastes!) of such a very pleasant day.
I have recently stumbled on a great cache of paintings going back as far as when I first started. What a range of styles and subjects there is! There are common themes from first to last such as my abiding love of the Yorkshire countryside but in my early days I jumped from place to place having a go at painting photographs from Ireland to India. I will be posting some of these in due course. This painting is definitely not a common theme and is one half of probably the strangest commission I have received to date. It began with a request to look at a pair of antique Victorian frames which had been smoke damaged. They were quite valuable and could they be salvaged? Although I know nothing about frames and framing (apart from the fact that framers make more money than painters!) I knew a man who did. He kindly restored them to full glory as a favour. So the next question logically was- what to put in the frames. Adele owned the frames and we had a long discussion concerning this important decision. Clearly something very traditional was in order to reflect the age and grandeur of the frames. The next time we visited she produced a Victorian jug on which were engraved two ladies. The plan was to paint these ladies for the reconditioned frames. They were typically Victorian - a romantic look back at a classical era. I've no idea whether they were Greek or Roman but definitely one or t'other. This was my initial attempt and is a fairly straight copy of the original on the jug. I simplified the painting for the finished article, concentrating more on the lady and making it a landscape so it fitted the frame and matched the other one. Sadly I have no record to show you how it turned out and how grand it looked in that fabulous old frame. Nevertheless I was overjoyed to find this and its sister piece. I have called it "The Lady and the Lyre" because when you speak it perhaps you are referring to the cherub rather than the musical instrument and should she trust his advice in matters of the heart. I know, I know it is probably a harp she is playing but hey man...that would ruin my alliteration and not be half as enigmatic! Now would you like to see the other one? Of course you do...here she is.
This is - the "Lady of the Lake". What DID those Victorian ladies get up to? You thought they were all virtuous and strait laced...literally. However this young thing is corsetless and in some deshabille. Looks to me like she is getting ready for a moonlight dip. I have taken a lot of liberties with the background but the figure is a copy from the original on the jug. I kept to this format for the final framed version but did concentrate more on the lady. Sadly, once again, I can't show you how grand she looked in her ornate frame so you will just have to take my word for it. However I have these originals both 20" x 16" so if you just happen to have two ornate Victorian frames that need filling........
A little help from a friend
One of the great joys of painting is that it gives you the opportunity to spend time with special friends. This is me and one of mine - Bonnie Girl. Sadly she passed away last Friday but she will not be forgotten. The little saying preceded the weather forecast on our local TV station and it became a pleasant little ritual to say it to her every night as she snuggled up between us on the sofa. She will always be with us and so.... "It's always sunny somewhere Bonnie!"
Professional artist now semi retired and enjoying being eccentric!