Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sketchbook study and painting on the farm

Walking the dogs every day I see so many scenes I'd love to paint.  This shady gap through a hedge offered a good view of a wheatfield after harvest.  Farm life moves on rapidly. Straw bales are being shifted into barns already. I needed to to be quick before they all disappeared.  A sketchbook drawing using graphite stick and watercolour did the job.

Back in the studio I tried to develop the feeling of the scene in oils on a small gessoed panel, with composition tweaked more to my liking. Having worked the sketch from life and direct observation, some how the brain retains additional visual information.  You feel back in the moment.  It's a good alternative when time or full plein air painting kit isn't available.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Family Art Expedition

My youngest grandson and I walked over the fields to the canal with sketchbooks and drawing gear earlier this week.  We've been having proper hot summer weather in England recently, so while drawing we planted ourselves under the fat shade of a beech tree.  Then Max posed for his photo in the sun.  

He and his brother enjoy getting involved with our homely country activities when they come to stay.  I'm so fortunate we're able to share making art together especially.


That day I had time for just one sketch before we hiked further along the canal in search of lunch.  I thoroughly fell in love with the location.  Inevitably my eye found innumerable pleinair painting spots for future visits.  

A couple of days ago I returned with outdoor painting gear and made a little painting from roughly the same spot.  It's oil on 5x7in canvas.
Etsy shop. 
Folksy shop. 
Amazon Handmade 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Plein air painting - travelling light

 I do love painting outdoors.  It's an art making experience like no other; a real challenge that's different every time, one I'm finding challenging and exhilarating. 

I got my plein air easel years ago when on my fine art degree course, but I'm still learning the best ways how to get around with it outdoors.  So far this combined backpack and stool, which I found in a charity shop, is the best solution when I want to travel light.

Here's how my plein air kit looks on location, before set up.  You can just see the scene I'd chosen in the background;  a gap in the trees to a little wheat field, just before harvesting started last weekend.

On this occasion the pack was stuffed with brush roll, small box of oil tubes, Daler Rowney air tight turps container, kitchen towel, tear off palette, small boards, easel tray, and viewfinder, with a few personal necessities like a water bottle and hat thrown in.  The collapsible easel was strapped on with bungee. 

Apart from a chat with the farmers wife and daughter, the company of sheep and assorted wild life, including a low-flying heron, I spent a solitary couple of hours concentrating on that gap in the field.  The completed painting and others can be seen on my website

Thursday, August 11, 2016

English countryside plein air landscape oil painting

Storm Clouds Over Wheat Field 5x7in plein air oil painting on board, unframed.
One look at those clouds put some urgency into the brushwork on this plein air landscape painting.  With every possibility of a drenching I didn't go far.  Taking only a few tubes of oil paint (ultramarine, burnt sienna, lemon yellow, crimson, phthalo green, and titanium white) with minimum other art gear, I was prepared to pack up quickly if rain arrived.

In every direction I looked; along the lane or across the fields to the woods and hills, there was a scene ready-made for painting.  The English countryside of Warwickshire, really is picture perfect!  I plumped for this view looking across the sheep meadow, because I liked the contrasting bands of green and gold (not clear to see in the photo). Despite the threatening sky, sunshine did strike through occasionally lighting up the wheat field, with the barn roof making a handy focal point.  
In the end rain didn't stop play, the sky cleared, the painting was completed and is now available to buy.  Contact me at for information and price.  More work can be seen on my website 


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Painting plein air in a sunny garden

Summer Flower Garden - 5x7in plein air painting, acrylic on board.

The weather was very kind to me when I set up my easel to paint this sunny flower border in the garden.  The sunshine was quite powerful, and I was glad to find a little shade for myself. 

Generally I prefer to use oil paint, but on this occasion I set up a strong plastic lidded chocolate box to use as a practical palette, which can be taped closed when on the move.  (Ferrero Rocher boxes make great acrylic paint palettes, with a wad of dampened kitchen towel, and sheet of tracing paper, or baking parchment).
The composition originally included one of our cats curled up in a flower pot.  Inevitably Flossie decided under the pine tree was a far superior spot, so off she trotted.  As it turned out, I think the painting is better with this less complicated view.

The painting is available for sale without a frame, but I thought it would be fun to see how it could look with a frame added.  If you're interested in more information and a price please contact me here. There's also a gallery of available paintings on my website 

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Painting inside and out!

I'm sorry I've been missing in action from this blog since almost the beginning of this year.  Truth is commissioned paintings have taken over my studio life, and I've been fighting to keep up.  So much so that I got to the point of feeling some pressure, and now feel the need to do other work for a while, just to re-charge my painterly batteries.  

Please excuse me if you were about to contact me to commission a painting.  I'm not stopping commissions for good .... I just want to explore the possibilities of making other artwork for a while.

 I truly appreciate the clients I've been working with.  Without exception they are wonderful people, who do me a great honour when they choose me to paint their loved ones, pets and favourite places.  

Here in rural England we are having what passes for summertime.  And I've been taking my plein air easel outdoors to work from direct observation of the beautiful world I see around me.  It's a completely different process for me compared to working from photos, which is mostly necessary when painting commissions for clients via the internet.  Few clients live in locations where I can easily visit and paint from life.

If you'd like to see my new paintings as they happen I'd love you to come back for a peak.  In the meantime, here are a few of the commissioned paintings I've completed recently.

I'll be updating my website with new paintings available for sale as often as I can.