It would seem my blogs are dominated with En Plein Air adventures at the moment, but honestly I’ve been taking advantage of the fine weather of late.
Last Friday I visited Looe. I’ve not been for a couple of years so a visit was long overdue. I managed to complete a pastel sketch of the seafront without too much hassle. I’d picked my spot well today, hiding in the seafront shelter, backed into a corner. Just one interruption from a nice lady asking my advice on the colour of beach sand. I must have that sort of face I reckon. After informing me that she was a member of the SAA she bid farewell and drifted away into the hazy sunshine. At this point I thought it was a good time to break for lunch. After lunch I just did my David Bailey bit and took a few photographs for future reference.
On to today (Sunday) and I paid a visit to Crackington Haven. Again it’s a place I’ve not visited for a long time. After setting up on a nice bench I set to work. I was using pastel again, but not the Ingres paper I was using at Looe. After carefully sorting out my gear before leaving the house I left the Ingres paper and my drawing board propped up in the living room. So I had to make do with a moth-eaten old pad of Canson Mi-Teintes paper, left over from the wreckage of my stored equipment. I’ll be honest. I struggled to make more than one layer of pastel on this paper. It just wouldn’t take it. There I was creating a lot of dust whilst vainly attempting to make a mark. Unfortunately my Wife was sitting downwind from me and I suddenly realised that the nice black trousers she had on now resembled something like the Northern Lights!. Pastel dust everywhere. Oh dear! Time for a nice cuppa methinks.
After this we moved on to Bude and I decided to sketch a boat on the canal. It was a very rough sketch, but one passing soul asked me if I wanted to sell it, as his mate owned the boat I was drawing. Now this sketch was very very very rough, and also unfinished. So much so that I felt embarrassed to ask any money for it. I also didn’t sign it. just in case I become very famous. I don’t want anybody coming on me saying I charged an exorbitant fee for rubbish (although this does go on all the time I believe – tongue firmly in cheek). So I tore it out of my sketchbook and gave it to him. He was happy as Larry. On reflection maybe I should have charged him. Oh well. Perhaps next time.
Hi everybody. Well. We’ve had a grand few days of decent weather and it had warmed up considerably from my last outing to Truro so I decided to make use of my National Trust membership and visit Lanhydrock for the bluebells.
Lanhydrock is on the outskirts of Bodmin in Cornwall so it isn’t that far from where I live. I was determined to have a successful outcome this time so when I arrived at the reception I asked where the best spot was to see the bluebells. I was duly told that the best display was in the Great Wood which was just a short walk past the Gatehouse. He even gave me a map, nice fellow! Anyway. I walked down to the Gatehouse which is quite a walk in itself and then set about trying to find this wood. After walking nearly a mile down the avenue and not seeing so much as a dandelion I decided that Cornish yards must be slightly longer than English yards (about ten times longer I reckon). By this time I’d wasted and hour of painting time so I trudged back up to the Gatehouse. I looked at the Gatehouse and decided that I would have a go at that instead. I found an isolated spot under a big tree and set myself up to paint. I’m sure that if I’d climbed to the top of the tree somebody would have climbed up after me to see what I was doing. As it was I had a steady procession of people deviating from the path as if they’d just left the pub after an all night session. One guy even insisted on taking my photo saying to me “ah. Somebody who does it the old way”. After a couple of hours I was only half way through, but it was way past lunchtime and my stomach won the day, so I headed for home.
In conclusion, It was a more successful day than my first attempt at plein air, but I didn’t paint what I set out to paint. I actually finished off the picture at home today (finished painting below). I do intend to go back though (weather permitting) before the bluebells finish for another year.
P.S. It was my fault I didn’t find the wood. I know where it is now. Apparently I went the wrong way! Such is life.
Well, today the power was due to be turned off by Western Power for repairs, lasting for most of the day, so the plan was to spend the day in Truro. I thought it would be an ideal opportunity for painting ‘Plein Air’
After lugging my gear to the perimiter of the Cathedral, I decided that next time I could dispense with the Kitchen sink! Having found a nice bench to sit on, the first thing I noticed was the way the Cathedral acted like a wind tunnel. Undaunted I started to paint. Halfway through the sketch this little voice said ‘do you mind if I be nosey?’ After innocently saying that I didn’t mind she launched into her wartime experiences with ‘spies’ painting the Westcountry coast. Now, as interesting as this was, it wasn’t getting the job done. After half an hour of trying to paint around her reminiscing she finally bid farewell and I attempted to try again. By this time I was thoroughly chilled from the keen wind doing it’s best to claim my watercolour pad. I decided to give it up as a bad job.
My Wife, at this point, popped up like the shopkeeper in Mr Benn and said lets go to lunch. A great idea. After lunch we decided to knock it on the head and head for home. Hopefully the power should be restored by the time we get there.
En route home I decided it would be a good idea to pop into Boscastle for a couple of hours. So we did. This proved far more successful as a photo reference gathering exercise. I climbed up to the Lookout on top of the hill with my trusty camera and got some breathtaking shots of the coastline. These will appear as paintings in due course. So. All-in-all a not very successful day for out-of-doors but the icing on the cake was some superb photos, an example below.
Following on from my last blog where I said I would share my new experiences with acrylics I decided to bite the bullet today and ‘have a go’. I recently enrolled on Glyn Macey’s online tutorial workshop and after studying a couple of his demos I decided to tackle his painting of ‘Crown Mines’.
I watched it through first to get a feel for the subject and thoroughly enjoyed his lively presentation of a subject I’ve always been a bit wary of. Second run through following the demo I actually stood up to paint! Now this is not me at all. I usually sit in a nice comfy chair while I ponder my next brushstrokes. The speed of the acrylics drying forced me to change my approach completely. I painted in a more animated and fluid way and a lot looser than I normally do. Consequently, half a roll of kitchen roll later, I was done. In just over an hour I’d produced the picture below. I’m quite pleased with the result for a first attempt and my Wife now wants this one framed for our ever expanding gallery.
I really enjoyed the experience and I’m now deciding on my next subject.
After many years of inactivity (13 to be precise!) I finally came home in June last year and decided to pick up my brushes again. Early retirement beckoned and I always promised myself that I would return to my art.
The years that all my equipment was in storage wasn’t kind to it at all. It was mostly my own fault because my shed in the garden (or atelier as my mother-in-law grandly called it) eventually succumbed to the elements and I had to find somewhere else to store it all. The old greenhouse was requisitioned and there everything stayed until June last year. Needless to say, pretty much everything was ruined.
This has meant an expensive time to replace everything. With a modest pension I’ve managed to replace all my watercolour gear, but last week I decided to have a clear-out on eBay. I’m glad to say that I managed to realise quite a substantial amount of money that has now been channeled into replacing my Artisan oils, my Pastels and grounds, and a medium I’ve always shied away from but wanted to try….. Acrylics.
I’ll let you know in due course how I get on with them in another blog.
I have now taken over a spare bedroom and converted it into a studio. The window faces almost due South, so I get good light for a good part of the day. I’m living with jigsaws and other stuff in there, but at least I have somewhere that I can walk away from and just shut the door!
I did make a resolution to do more En Plein Air work this year, but so far I’ve only managed one sketching outing. It is difficult with other people in tow because they don’t want to sit around for hours, particularly if the sun isn’t shining! Perhaps when the weather finally warms up I’ll be able to do more.
Anyway. Here’s to, hopefully, a decent Summer and plenty of opportunity to get outdoors.