Tuesday, 19 August 2008
Having completed 2 little pochade paintings looking across towards Southerndown and Nash Point, I moved along the cliff to where I knew the sun would set over Porthcawl. I've tried painting sunsets before, but they've always looked a bit naff. Watercolours just ran together and went green, pastels looked like kids paintings,and I've generally ended up relying on photos. But this time, as a fresh convert to oil painting I wanted to see how I'd manage. I loved it. The paint stays exactly where it's put, but still let me blur some areas together. The sun was a glorious golden globe hanging over Porthcawl Harbour for what seemed ages, and then hastened it's descent, burning out the dark of the headland in its path, and tipping the waves with liquid gold. My brush sped over the palette, I think I held my breath, trying to get it all down in time. Arrayed across the beach and cliffs, everyone watched the sun setting. After a week of gales and rain, it was a magical oasis. How lucky I am to have all this on my doorstep.
A severe weather warning for Wales gave way to the most beautiful evening last Thursday, and I rushed out with my pochade box, already pre-loaded with panels and paint, packed safely into my rucksack - how organised is that. I stopped only to make a flask of coffee, and headed off to the coast. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, having visited the spot many times in the past. I've photographed from here, gazed over the rolling headland as the sinking sun turned the cliffs to pink and orange, and irritated the hell out of following drivers by moseying along at low speeds, admiring the scenery.
Perched on top of the cliffs, nobody but sheep for company, I had my pochade box out in a jiffy, and aware of the need for speed in the evening light, rapidly put down the dark areas. Painting as small as this really makes me focus. There's no room for fiddling about with marks, you have to put the stroke down and leave it. Well, that's the plan anyway. The sunlight skittered across the water, leaving me dithering about lights and darks - "ooh, that's lovely....no, that's better, oh, cloud shadow hmmm, that's interesting" and so on. I did my best, had a quick coffee and a stretch, suprising how chilly you get sat in one position for half an hour (well, I have no idea how long I sat there, I seem to lose all track of time) Decided to do another one, see if I can distill the scene more effectively. The sun was beginning to sink, and the characteristic orangey glow lit up the cliffs, as I struggled to stay ahead. This time, my brush started to feel more familiar, I had more control over the colour mixing, didn't squeeze out so many diferent colours, and actually began to enjoy myself.
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Took myself off to the Brecon Beacons on Monday, to check out a route for my Nordic Walking Group. The walk was spectacular -except for the biggest bull I've ever seen in one of the fields I was crossing - I expected to feel his breath on my neck the whole time I was slogging uphill in my rush to get to the gate - and then a sign warning dog owners and walkers to beware of cattle in the next field had adrenaline lending unaccustomed speed to my Nordic Walking poles.....so I've decided not to do that particular walk for the group. But anyway, this isn't the Nordic Walking Blog (which you can read elsewhere, see links on the right), and I spent a couple of very happy hours with my pochade box, (see link on sidebar if you also want to buy one) absorbed in trying to paint the fabulous mountain scenery around the Brecon Mountain Centre. Once again, the fact that I am finding this quite difficult is proving the draw (geddit) (sorry). I found the marks from my filbert brush somehow more satisfying than my flat brush, which suprised me, as I've always tried to emulate my pastel marks when painting. I also preferred the unprimed, more absorbent surface, as the paint became too slippery on the primed board.
Saturday, 9 August 2008
Earning a living from your art somehow involves more than just being able to paint. It's about marketing, computer skills, admin, packing up orders, invoicing, designing adverts, e.mailling and meeting customers. When I saw http://www.pochade.co.uk, I was immediately lured by the idea of getting back to basics.
So I bought the pochade box - and then realised I didn't have paint in small enough tubes to fit into it. No matter, a bit of retail therapy amongst the Great Art pages, and I soon had a box full of goodies, and was keen as mustard to get out there and paint en plein air.
Hmmm. What to put it all in? My much loved, used and abused Nordic Walking rucksack just wasn't big enough to get the box in, plus waterproofs, spare jumper, map, teensy flask of coffee, sarnies, super-lightweight folding stool, mobile phone, camera, compass, kitchen sink, dog ball, hydration bladder...I think that's the lot....so another trip to the shops carrying that lot with me so I could pack it in and out of various rucksacks finally culminated in the purchase of a 28 litre Vaude sac. Lovely, light as air, hardly felt it on my back. The pressure was on now, as I had spent a considerable amount of money in an attempt to simplify my painting life - how ironic is that.
Now. Where to go???? Maps and walking guides out, my favourite things -here? there? dithered and watched the rain lashing down outside - worried about not being in front of my easel in my studio completing commissions and earning proper money (and people think the life of an artist is all dreamy and airy fairy), finally, shouldered the rucksack, and strode off to .....the local beach! a round trip of just over 5 miles, with cliffs and scenery and ice creams and all that - found my spot on the very top of the cliff, sat on my super lightweight folding stool - and started to paint, at last! Oh joy. I had forgotten just what a marvelous, simple delight it is, sitting and absorbing the view, painting just to explore the surroundings, to really see, instead of glancing and relying on the modern sketchbook of the digital camera.
So I'm hooked. I don't think I'm very good at it, which is further incentive to keep doing it. I struggled with colour mixing, making greens far too readily, unaccustomed paints having different properties to my usual manufacturer. I'm far too fiddly with my mark making, and yet, I am absurdly proud of my first offerings, and can't wait to get out again. Watch this space!
Monday, 4 August 2008
A frustrating day, spent driving around Cardiff, trying to find
parking somewhere near the city centre so I can collect a painting.
It was supposed to be a quick trip, collect an order of mounts, and
then go out to paint for the afternoon. Dropped stuff off to studio,
got home, took an order for prints from a gallery, looked at pouring
rain outside, and checked e.mails. Big mistake. Need to upload
images to website and other galleries. Still raining, so shelve plans
to go out for a bit. Website off sick, so e.mail web designer to find
out why. Time passes while we try to sort it out. Have lifeguard
club committee meeting tonight at the beach, so decide to go early
with newly packed rucksack containing brand spanking new pochade box,
and test it out on top of the cliff. New e.mail message says meeting
cancelled. It rains again. Bugger it. I decide to paint indoors,
and go out tomorrow instead!
Saturday, 2 August 2008
Tonight I had to find a couple of web page references for my http://www.behance.net/Gallery, and I was astounded to discover my images in all kinds of unexpected places - several blogs in America, plus an advert for a digital painter whose work resembles mine! How bizarre is that.
Also, the blog I make for my Nordic Walking Club achieved a higher rating than some of the galleries I supply, which indicates to me that more people read my blog than look at my work.......so, as I like to write, I may as well do that and get some exposure for my writing as well as my painting.
I have just bought a pochade box from pochade.co.uk, and filled it with luscious goodies from greatart.co.uk. I am planning to spend next week getting on top of some of my commissions, and then, I am packing my camper van, and I am off. No internet. just me. the dog(see photo above of Scribble dozing in the sunshine) and my pochade box. It is going to test my painting ability - I have spent many years now increasingly using photographs and painting indoors - a sure way to become stagnant and out of love with painting.
Last Sunday a scorcher, I persuaded Al my lovely and patient other half, to drive up to the Brecon canal, so we could check out the slipway possibilities for our sit-on kayak, and have a pleasant walk alongside the canal, shaded by trees and lined with great pubs. First, we couldn't find the canal, and when we did, there was no water in it. Which didn't deter Scribble from hurling himself into the canal, squelching up to his belly in stinking black mud. Al leapt to his rescue, losing his Oakley sunglasses in the process.
Oh well, I saw lots of places I'd like to paint anyway....
So when you see me next, I hope to have a clutch of little paintings in my hand that are at least an honest response to my surroundings.