Thursday, August 31, 2017

Roadside Painting


My most favourite way of working is to travel the highways and byways of France, stopping to paint whenever something catches my eye.  Today it was the wonderful Walnut Orchards that are plentiful in this area.  When it is really hot they have such depths of dark blue green shade, that just to look at them cools you down!
Traveling this trip in extream luxury in my "mobile studio" enough room for all my equipment and enough space for me, and my glamorous assistant, to live comfortably.  We can stop, make some lunch, make use of a handy picknic table to paint on, then move on.

I have watercolour paints in many different containers to suit all occasions. Enough time for a proper painting session and I can get out these shown here. Once upon a time many years ago they started life as a nifty little set of draws holding screws and washers from a supermarket. They got repurposed into a great watercolour resource. I fill them up from tube colours and they last for ages.  I write the names on the lids as I always forget what I use most of!

One of my most favourite colours has got to be "Rose madder genuine" it is key to my french shadow mix, with French Ultramarine it makes a beautiful pinky blue shadow... best of all it actually smells of roses!

No roses in this latest roadside production but plenty of French shadow mix!  

Oils and watercolours are equal contenders for a painting session, not quite sure yet how I decide which to use, it must be instinct but I can say that I am throughly enjoying this painting road trip. 
You can see all of the paintings from this trip, updated as I travel along, on my website. There will also be an exhibition of them in October.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Plein Air Pochade Box

A very fine fellow in the village, an artisan carpenter, has produced a custom designed plein air painting box for me.  We came up with the design together, me saying what I wanted it to do and he refining and making it work.  It is perfect.
Made from lovely beech wood, planed especially, and beech ply.  It has a very cunning, but simple, device of holding many different sized boards in place.  It grips them firmly but discreetly, avoiding the usual big grab space that can be left on plein air studies.
It has a large space for a removeable (for occasional cleaning) perspex pallett.  It has pretty brass wing nuts and blots, for easy adjustments.
It has multiple holes to hold paintbrushes and little turps buckets.  It is waxed with beautiful smelling "black bison wax"
It folds away very neatly and fits into my old painting rucsac well.  Everything sits securely on top of a wooden tripod.  I prefer wood, I like things to be a little retro (I think it is because I like to imagine that I am living in the 19th century, with a beard and chatting away to my artistic heroes while we paint together in the French countryside)
Anyway, musings aside I couldn't be happier with my new plein air pochade box.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

A Sense of Light and Heat.

I am gearing up for a glorious painting trip to France.  Six weeks in my mobile studio (which is a lot more salubrious than the last van I went to France in.  This time we live in colourful luxury and the painting gear has a space of its own, in other words, we don't have to sleep curled up around easels and rolls of paper.
This picture, is a work in progress, large-ish, 80 x 60 cm, it is me warming up to try to capture a sense of light and heat in Provence.
This is it in an early stage.  I love seeing how paintings develop, its fascinating for me to see the marks that I make, which bits do I think are important, how does my painting handwriting look.  Its me without makeup...if I wore any!
Here is a finished work, my Mothers garden in the Cotswolds, again trying to capture that sense of light.  On the French painting trip I shall be painting a lot of Plein Air work, which I will blog and post up as they are done.  Alongside that I am hoping to make a few larger paintings, like these ones.  I hope that you will follow my progress.
Starting in the Brittany, then down to the Vendee, then towards the Camargue, paying homage to Vincent in Arles, then following his journey north to Auvers-sur-Oise.  On the way I shall be visiting a lot of French gardens, including Monet's at Giverny,  and trying to capture that elusive sense of light and heat.