Friday, May 30, 2008


I finished this small study yesterday all the time trying to do a quick and loose impression. The result wasn't quite as free as I had hoped - I'm afraid this is about as loose as I get! I had been inspired by a field study completed by another artist so I really went at it this time using thicker paint and larger brushes. It didn't seem to help though and the painting tightened up all by itself (honest). After completing the sky, I worked on the distant mountains and foreground using a smaller brush as there were a number of details that I wanted to include. I used only four colors (plus white); French Ultramarine, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red and a little Burnt Umber. I think that it came out just fine and is for me another reminder of the wonderful time I spent in Southern California and Arizona. The oil is 8" X 10".

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Most of my landscape paintings are of the evening time or occasionally the morning but sometimes I see something completely different that I want to paint. Such was the scene shown here, again Blackwater and close to the same view point shown in 'Late Evening - Blackwater' of my May 3rd post. The time of the painting is late autumn with most of the distant trees in fall foliage, just the pines showing some green. I was at first attracted to the scene by the splendid yellowish-orange grasses in the foreground so with that being the focal point, I kept the sky somewhat understated. This one was a bit of an experiment for me and while I like the result, I feel that perhaps I need to spend more time working on paintings such as these to see where they will take me. This oil on canvas is 9" X 12".

Friday, May 16, 2008


The last few weeks have been spent working on a large oil and I don't have much to show for it. So here I present this simple painting. Over the years, I have been working along on a number of different avenues, some wildlife orientated, others mostly landscape and the like. I have though, always drawn and painted the nude. While I feel that perhaps not enough personal effort has gone into this, we are what we are and art (along with life itself) can not be forced. Life drawing sessions though were arranged both in the UK and in Hong Kong, and were very enjoyable. One learns a lot during these times and the experiences are to be treasured.
In this watercolor, I wanted to concentrate solely on the torso and hence the painting is simple in composition and execution. I used mostly raw sienna for the skin tones and raw umber for the darker areas. While watercolor is difficult to control on the smooth Arches paper used here, I feel that the work does say something about what I was trying to capture - mostly the beauty of the female form. I have a lot more paintings of this nature planned both in oil and watercolor and hopefully will get to them sometime soon. Size of this one is 11" X 7 1/2".

Friday, May 9, 2008


Here we have yet another of the Morning in the Desert series. I feel that perhaps this series is winding down to a close now with maybe only a few more to go. This painting was another protracted work that was started well over a year or so ago. Initially the sky was painted in along with the distant mountain range but as with a number of my earlier works, I was less than happy with the result. So there it sat, gathering dust and the occasional spider's web, until last month when I decided to do something about it. I thought that if I could successfully repaint the sky, then the work would have a chance. So it was dusted off and put on the easel. I started by darkening some areas of the sky, adding and blending lighter clouds into the upper section then finishing off with the darker clouds that gave so much depth to the sky. I stood back and took a critical look - much better! Now onto the foreground.
This area of the painting took quite a long time to complete as along with the details in the shrubby brush, there were many different other minor decisions to make. I didn't want to go too dark because although there is not a lot of light in the scene, there would still be plenty of details in the foreground visible. So it was a bit of this and a bit of that working back and forth until finally I called it finished. On reflection, I think that it turned out fine and is perhaps another lesson in not giving up too soon. The work has a pleasing richness to it unlike some of the others in the series, mainly due to a slight change in my painting technique. Looking at it certainly takes me back to the time I stood and watched the gentle dawn breaking over the desert. This oil is 12" X 24".

Thursday, May 8, 2008


I saw this scene of one of my travels and was immediately attracted by the shadows cast on the snow by the tall trees behind me. I also liked the way that they led your eye into the scene. The warm trees and grasses contrasted nicely against the cooler snow and sky. Because I wanted the focus to be on the lower part of the painting, I kept the sky relatively simple graduating the blue towards the horizon and adding just a few warmer clouds. I really enjoyed working on the strip of vegetation creating texture and depth by laying colors onto each other - something that I am doing more often now. There are some warm highlights in the foreground where the low sun angle is catching the ridges in the snow and this helps also with the balance between cool and warm colours. Although a simple scene, there is enough going on here to keep your eye moving about the work.
Unlike my paintings of interiors, I often edit my landscapes removing (or moving) trees, adding bushes and doing all manner of things in the search of a perfect composition. In this view, there was a large tree right in the center which polarized the painting into two halves. Leaving out the tree was an early decision and also an easy one to make. Other times, I have finished a work and wondered why I wasn't that happy with it - then the looking and thinking starts! When this happens I prop up the painting in my lounge and glance at it from time to time as I walk by. This usually does the trick and I am able to see what to do next within the context of making it a better painting. Fortunately, there was none of that here! Morning Sun is an oil on canvas, size 12" X 14".

Saturday, May 3, 2008


And here is the finished painting. I think that because of the field study that I did and the fact that I know this place so well, I really had no problems with the completion of this painting. It was one of those that went well right from the start. With a large brush, I started with some lighter color in the sky area then laid in the darker clouds next. With a little blending, I was able to create a nebulous feeling to the sky and also to the cloud reflections in the water. I kept the thin strip of land greyed to suggest distance then used a bold mix of cadmium yellow deep, burnt sienna and raw umber for the marsh grasses. Some smaller details were added here and there and that was it.
I like the way that the light works in this painting creating the interesting reflections among the basically three band of color. I did see this work as being slightly differently to my other marsh paintings and I feel this one is the most abstract of them all. It does have a quiet meditative feel which really is what I was after and this was something that the client who purchased the painting reflected on too. This oil on canvas is 30" X 40".

Thursday, May 1, 2008


A while ago, I posted a number of consecutive images showing how I went about creating a watercolor painting. This time, I thought that I'd do the same but showing work on an oil painting instead. I'll do a longer series next time with more in-between stages as this one will unfortunately only have two. The location shown here is one that I am very familiar with and I have done many paintings on this spot. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and has been one of my favorite places to visit and to paint. I love the flat open marshes with the towering skies above. This simple composition has spawned many paintings and is one that I still use and enjoy. While a smaller study was done in the field, I painted the final version in my studio. On a large canvas, I first worked out the proportions of the sky, land and water as this was very important to get just the right balance. Fortunately my study helped a lot with this but sometimes I just jump right in and work directly on the canvas without even a small sketch to guide me. Typically my paintings of this type of landscape are usually composed with a large area of sky and a smaller strip of land at the bottom but in this painting, I wanted just the opposite! Still, I would give the sky its due as it would set the tone for the whole painting. Using a heavily thinned mix of yellow ochre and ultramarine oils, I first put in the horizon making sure that it was exactly level, then I added more ochre to the mix and painted in the reed bed. A few indications of thinner strips of land and that was basically it! When it had dried a bit, I started on the actual painting, working from the sky forward - you'll see the finished painting in my next blog.