Saturday, 10 December 2016

December 2016

Finally slowing down after a manic end to the summer season, looking forward to a bit of play time and recharging the old batteries. 

Early Morning, Derwent water from Keswick campsite.

Scafell in autumn with the first snow on the tops

 Robin Hood's Bay
Edinburgh commission

Dramatic sky near the Stape road

Saltwick Bay dawn

Grosmont woods

Stanage Edge

Evening on Whitby beach

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Catch up time for August 2016

I've struggled and struggled to get an accurate photo of this picture but there is something about the colours in it that the camera doesn't like. It's Great Fryupdale from the Monks Trod that leads to the Lyke Wake walk, evening sunlight coming from the left.

Evening above Goathland, quite dark and moody but I love it.

Grosmont with Whitby abbey and the viaduct in the background. I had to climb up my magical step ladders to get this view.

Sandsend beach


Return to Saltwick Bay after a long absence

Soft moorland sky

Catch up time for August 2016

I've struggled and struggled to get an accurate photo of this picture but there is something about the colours in it that the camera doesn't like. It's Great Fryupdale from the Monks Trod that leads to the Lyke Wake walk, evening sunlight coming from the left.

Evening above Goathland

Grosmont with Whitby abbey and the viaduct in the background. I had to climb up my magical step ladders to get this view.

Sandsend beach


Return to Saltwick Bay after a long absence

Soft moorland sky

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Storm cloud on the moors

The finished article

I thought I'd give this little on it's own post rather than leaving tagged onto the end of the last one. I'm becoming a little obsessed by my stats and this will give them a little boost.

Initially I was thinking mainly about boosting my profile with this blog but as I've got into it I'm just really enjoying taking a little time out to think about and explain what I'm doing. My statistics so far are spectacularly mediocre at best so I think I've got a long way to go........helpful suggestions will be more than gratefully received.

Inspiration, the beginning of the week and getting the old grey matter going

Tuesday is the beginning of my week (I take Sunday and Monday off) and like everyone else I find it hard to get going. One of the best way for me is to have a browse, it seems indulgent or work avoidant but I'm increasingly seeing the importance of it. Everyone has influences, even the greats and we are in the privileged position of being able to scan across thousands of images sat in the comfort of our homes.

One of my favourite sites is Pinterest, as you select images you then get guided towards collections of similar work. You also get to create your own collections and so can come back and at a glance see all the work that caught your eye the day/days before. This is my collection called Paint.

Currently I seem to be enjoying looking at clouds lit up by the late sun.

We've been having some great cloud formations lately and I think I might start the week playing 
around with this subject.

Here it is, I've had a very disrupted day today and will reserve judgement until tomorrow. It will be still wet enough to work on but I will probably have another go at it from scratch if I need to.

I sold The Turner sky today so I'm very happy

Monday, 7 March 2016

A Drones view of Grosmont

A Drones view of Grosmont

I just had to share this aerial view of Grosmont, I especially love the fact they had a cyclist in every shot. It's a shame they didn't have any steam engines running but I'm sure they'll have another go later on in the year.

If you go towards the end of the video there are some shots of the river including the delivery van that attempted the ford in full flood and got swept down river. The driver was rescued and taken home by Becky . He was reported later to be suffering from exhaustion and emotional distress....sorry Becky couldn't resist.

Becky of course is one of the key members of the esteemed Bored Cat Film company and has had many minor roles with them including the following....

Bloody nutters.

This was the only one I could find on line, but I did purchase The Uskdale Progeny for £2.50 in the Grosmont Co-op and it was worth every penny.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Dawn, low tide on Samdsend beach

Dawn, low tide on Samdsend beach

Another from the archive.

All the way back from 2010.

It's been a long time since I did a dawn at Sandsend near Whitby, I think this could be on the cards in the next few weeks. If I remember rightly the sand ridges were a nightmare, trying not to get paint in the water. 

I'm not sure that the camera has given a faithful reproduction of the original's colour.



Caravaggio chicken

Painting chickens is so much fun, I'm still smiling now at this one. I think I'm going to have to do a few more.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Sunset over Goathland

Many years back I visited the National Gallery in London and checked out the Turners. It struck me at the time that my appreciation of art had in fact been replaced by a technical appraisal. I now see paintings in a completely different way.... but don't get me wrong J. W. M. Turner was a true master.

The paintings on show at the time included the Fighting Temeraire which had a similar sky to this one. It was a shame to see that they were all terribly faded, it would have been amazing to see them as they were when he had just painted them.

The other thing that struck me was that Mr Turner had painted all the skies on show in a similar way . He had a sky formula.

I was a little disappointed but also found it very liberating in that I was now allowed to construct paintings rather than slavishly trying to represent what I'd seen. If it was OK for the great Mr Turner then surely it was OK for me.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

The Flying Scotsman is coming to Grosmont

I've decided to call this one "Grumpy artist paints the Flying Scotsman".

My tranquil life will be interrupted on the 12th with the arrival in Grosmont of the newly refurbished Flying Scotsman loco. It's going to be heaving....I may have to go and hide in my pottery.

Lots of people have been nagging me to do some Scotsman paintings and finally I have given in. Most annoyingly of all is that I really enjoyed doing it. I did it from a photo on the NYMR's website, its from the 1950's I think.

Painting something like this is really tough, let's call it an impression of a steam engine. My next one is going to be called " Flying Scotsman in the very far distance and hidden by a hill"

Now a while ago I said that Black is for wimps ....I take it all back.

A lesson on Green

I felt unhappy with the way I'd tried to explain greens yesterday, so here's another attempt
I've started with a strip of pure Winsor green (yellow shade), I believe other manufacturers call it Pthalo green. Above it I have mixed the green with white. It's quite a cool green and very synthetic looking.

I then came in with two yellows, one lemon yellow and the other Winsor yellow which I started to blend with the green and white. It's still a bit to artificial

Below I've started to introduce Winsor (pthalo) blue and Prussian blue with a little white. In the middle is a patch of Winsor violet

In comes the burnt Sienna to make the warmer greens more natural

I've used a mixes of burnt Sienna, green, Prussian blue and violet to establish the almost black shadows and come over the top with mixes of winsor blue,green & white and violet,green & white.

And that is how I get  my greens to go from warm sunlight to cool shadow. 

Hope this helps.

Beech tree completed...I think

I think this is just about finished, I'll let it hang around for a bit just in case I feel the need to tweak some more. 

Wednesday, 2 March 2016


 Last week I sold two large paintings including my last spring woodland scene, so I decided that I'd revisit by favourite Beech tree in Grosmont woods. I love trying to capture the vibrancy of the new spring growth especially when it's cold and grey outside. Over the last couple of weeks I've been practicing on small pieces in preparation for this one.

So this would be a good time to talk about greens. Green should just be blue mixed with yellow as we all learnt in primary (junior) school. However I've spent the day throwing all kinds of colours into the mix, including Prussian blue, pthalo blue, violet, mauve blue, burnt sienna, lemon yellow, yellow ochre, cadmium orange, cadmium yellow and Winsor green (pthalo green).

There are many ways of mixing effective greens and sometimes it is fun to allow yourself to run out of your main colours so that you are forced to get inventive. Currently I have no French ultra marine.I like to concentrate on warming the sunlit colours and keeping the shadows dark and cool. It's very tempting to get the tube of black out...but black is for wimps and doesn't blend so well. The hardest part is keeping the whites and yellows clean.

My intention when I set off was to use a large quantity of purple in the distance and shadows so that hopefully when it came to putting in the very yellowy greens of the sunlit areas the would stand out.
My distant colours ended up being a mix of Prussian blue, Winsor violet and burnt sienna or yellow ochre. Then to develop the shadows I started introducing pthalo green but cooled right down with Prussian blue and pthalo blue.

As I started moving into the sunlit areas I started mixing burnt sienna into the pthalo green which gives a gorgeous colour with real depth. For the very sunlight exposed areas I used white with small amounts of lemon and Winsor yellow. I then blended the yellows into the warm greens to get a nice transition.

The picture is now basically finished, tomorrow I will spend a few hours tweaking it but I doubt it will change anything significantly. I'm sat here with a brain like mush but hopefully the boy done good.

For a much simpler explanation of the way I tackle greens try this

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Queuing for ice cream  on Whitby beach

I've never been sure about using the palette knife for people pictures, it's a bit crude. However they are very popular and sell I'll keep on doing them. It's good I suppose to stray from your comfort zone.

The palette knife

I have a good friend who is dabbling with painting and would much rather get small chunks of specific information rather than an expansive view of the whole complexity of a painting from start to finish. So in that vein I'm going to gradually tell you all about what I do.

I call myself a palette knife painter so that's seem the obvious place to start.

This is my palette knife, I have three, all are the same size. I used to only have one and I didn't know it's make or number and so when I eventually stumbled across the same ones I bought a couple more. I wrote down the make and number so that I'd never be worried about not having the right tool again. Of course I don't remember where I wrote down the information now......and there is no information on the handle.

The blade is just over 6cm long and 2cm wide at it's thickest point. I personally find it better to know one tool well rather than continually swapping sizes. Shorter blades lack flexibility and larger ones are too cumbersome. I find that I can get incredible detail by just using the tip but also can really slap the paint on when I need to.

I would advise you to try out several mid size knives before settling on the one for you. Mine is much more of a trowel than a knife, the longer bladed knife shaped knives are unwieldy in my opinion and hamper painting rather than helping.

My knife has become an extension of my right hand now, I feel totally at ease using it and know exactly how it's very gentle curved edge will perform. 

I started using the knife due to frustration at brushes becoming clogged with a muddy mix of colours and never cleaning properly from a quick wipe with a rag. The knife allows you to have much greater control over the cleanliness  of you paint but also allows you to work straight from the tube without using smelly solvents. Unfortunately you do use a lot more paint.

Mixing paint can happen both on the palette and the canvas. in order to get realistic changes in colour, especially for skies, I gradually blend away until I'm happy with the result. Other times  I will try and cleanly flick one colour on top of another without allowing them to mix at all. I always use the top edge of the knife.

I always use a tear off paper palette block, so that each painting is started with fresh colours. Some oil colours have a nasty habit of drying overnight and if you try using them the next day it will not mix or apply properly.

I naturally work from light to dark so by the end of each painting I have a a dark muddy mess on the palette and quite often break out a fresh one to come in with any highlights.

This is the finished painting from the little video.