Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales

Malham Cove is a dramatic 80 metre high limestone scar deep in the Yorkshire Dales. The area has always been a magnet for tourists and artists alike and in Victorian times the landscape ticked all the boxes for 'sublime', 'dramatic', etc. Gordale Scar, which is literally just around the corner, has been the chosen subject for many painters over the years - including Ward and Piper.

My own attempt to capture the nature of the place was painted after a recent mid-week visit. Summer weekends can be a nightmare as the place is so popular, but mid-week a quieter atmosphere descends...

'Malham Cove'

Acrylic on canvas

12" x 32"

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

A quickie...

I set myself a challenge this evening: produce an image based on the moors/fells in 20 minutes, start to finish. I squirted paint onto my palette, set a canvas on my easel and set the stopwatch. The great thing about using painting knives is the ability to rapidly transfer paint onto, and cover, the canvas... Great fun and a satisfying way to pass a wet summer's evening!

'Wild Fell'

Acrylic on canvas

12" x 16"

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Loch Ba...

When we returned home from our trip to the Hebrides I bought a 'landscape' canvas with the intention of painting one of the panoramic views we had enjoyed. Loch Ba had a particular appeal, with its sweep of majestic hills as a backdrop and the tranquil waters of the loch in the foreground. There is no public road up Loch Ba, so the place has a unique peace and stillness in contrast to the dramatic hills in the background. The canvas is the largest I have tackled and I had been putting it off for weeks! In the end I painted this piece in just under two hours...

'Loch Ba', acrylic on canvas, 12" x 39"


I have this thing about bluebell woods. It's something to do with the light and shade, the intense colour, the smell and the tranquility. I have tried painting bluebell woods in oils before - I didn't like the result, but my wife and daughter did...

Anyway I returned to the subject again recently and had another attempt, this time using a much more expressive, painterly approach...

'Bluebell Wood', Acrylic on canvas, 16" x 20"

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Anatomy of a Landscape - Finished!

'Embsay Crag' - Acrylic on canvas, 16" x 20"

Anatomy of a Landscape - Part 3

Ok, whilst we wait for the paint to dry, let's talk about the paint itself. I use a very limited palette which currently consists of: warm red, warm yellow, yellow ochre and ultramarine blue (I have also used process blue), burnt umber and white - that's it! All colours are mixed from these basic colours. By using a limited range of colours hopefully a sense of harmony is achieved right across painting...

Right the first paint layer has dried so I then work back into the painting with additional paint:

Again the paint is applied quite thickly with a knife and I loosely mix the paint so that coloured 'flecks' of the various colours appear, adding detail and interest, as the close-up below shows:

Anatomy of a Landscape - Part 2

Once the under-painting has dried we can begin. Sometimes I draw a few pencil lines on the canvas as an aid, but most of the time I just get stuck in! I'll have an idea in my head of what I want and sometimes I draw a few compositional sketches on a scrap of paper first to see what may or may not work. I try not to be too restricted or prescriptive nowadays and I rely on what happens when I start applying the paint.

For this piece I had done a few sketches, based on past observation and a handful of photos, so I roughly mapped out what I wanted on the canvas:

The paint was applied using a large painting knife...