Monday 20 June 2016

Plein air at the allotments

Plain air painting on Wednesday

I almost spent the day catching up with stuff, you know the kind of thing I'm sure, let's face it, there is always something (or lots of things) that need doing, and it's too easy to loose a day. 
I packed the minimum and off I went to our local allotments. It's not far from the house, so no need for the car, it's just a short walk away.
I always feel a bit guilty leaving the dog at home, but if I take her with me I just get distracted and can't expect her to lie beside me and not snaffle about! 

I set up my light weight easel, secured my 10 X 12 inch canvas and made a start.

I had previously prepared my canvas with gesso then a layer of pale ochre, with a little shadow colour in places, (which caught the corner of my brush) just to give me a mid tone base on which to work. The first thing I do is establish the basic shapes, then perhaps a few of the dark areas using the colour shadow very dilute. 

I quickly add the second shed and a few tree trunks and some darks, this completes my basic composition. I can alter anything at this stage, so if the scale of things is not quite what I want, I can alter things, once I add colour, it becomes more difficult.

At this stage I like to block in the areas in shadow using the colour Bluebell
I prefer to use this lovely colour so that any gaps left after placing colours on top reveals this colour I reach this stage in the first 10 minutes of painting, the sunshine is established si if it becomes overcast, I can stick to my original plan, even if the sun just peps out now and again, I have the most important information down.

I now begin to add colour, just blocking it in, nothing detailed. I add the bright sections and retain the dark sections.
I am now at the stage when if the sun goes in and the light becomes flat, I use the tones in my painting to guide me, I avoid chasing the light. This can be a big mistake, but once you are out there, and getting carried away with it all, its quite hard not to paint the light as it changes. Limiting the time outside helps.
I continue to add more definition and a few definite clean shapes, adding darks using more of the colour shadow.

I continue using this colour to define the posts and dark sections, as well as everything in
shadow. I now build up the painting adding the light colours.

Final details can now be added, the canes, sticks, blobs of light, leaves, that sort of thing. The temptation is, to continue to poke away adding more and more details, but the longer I work on the painting, the more the light will change and with it, the danger of chasing it! Too many details won't enhance my painting, they will just distract from the simple beauty of the scene which is what first attracted me to it, so this is when I stop.

I plan a few more trips to the allotments, if you enjoy reading my blog, I will be happy to share them with you. (I just have to remember to take the photos) it was certainly good use of my time because it has rained ever since that trip and each day I wake to the steady drip of rain.The forecast is for rain all week, the plots will be twice as big, the greens will be lush and the sheds become overgrown with plants. Another challenge awaits....

Tuesday 14 June 2016

Having fun painting figures

I thought you might like to see my interpretation of the slightly abstract figures which I planned to use as my reference for one of my demos at the Patchings Art Festival last week end. I used acrylics and pastels and this was the result.
The colours were so rich and sumptuous, Im now not sure if I prefer this one to the original! This just shows how good it is to experiment, you just never quite know what will happen.

Many of my demos were watercolour and although I painted flowers, which are always popular, I also painted children. I love the challenge of painting people, telling a story and most exciting, adding sunlight. For this  painting I had a dull little  photo as my reference, with no sunlight, it was a flat grey day, so I showed the audience how I use a photo but decide on the light source and paint my figures in lovely sunshine.

This is the next stage after its dry

Then another demo along the same lines. I used a limited palette and showed how I mix skin tones, then gave a few tips about painting flesh and making figures look realistic. I think figures in watercolour must be my favourite. I enjoy other subjects, but the challenge of figures is such fun!