Before Summer arrives (snow is due Sunday and we are in Italy!! ) here are a couple of tree paintings that have been pending for a while on my computer.
Here I enjoyed trying to paint the early Spring light as it filtered through the woods behind the three Acacia trees. The light was cold and blue against the branches.
An olive grove in Tuscany. I walked around for a while and couldn’t make up my mind what to paint. It was winter and rain was on it’s way but I chose the olive trees because I think their colours are shown at their best when the light is muted and grey.
I often visit the Isle of Wight to catch up with family. When I was young we used to go for seaside holidays and visit my Granny who spent 101 years on the Island. Fond memories of times are spent there, on the car ferry over and then down to the beach at low tide. It was the British holidays by the sea that you don’t forget. The cold wet sand rubbing in your jelly sandals, the damp wind nipping your neck as you looked for sandy shells and then the walk home with handfuls of buckets and spades, dodging the dog mess on Ducie Avenue.
The Isle of Wight gives plenty to paint. There are the high downs and soaring cliffs to long sandy beaches fringed by farms and trees, fishing villages and sailing clubs. Here are just a few painted from my last trip. Others I will post soon when they are photographed.
Narrow bridleways and footpaths run all along the coast, you can walk all around the Island if you wish too. Next time I will go back with a bigger board to paint on because I liked this composition and all the receding greens. A little bit of blue sea in the distance is all I needed without having to go and get sand stuck in my paintbrushes on the beach!
This is the sea seen from the top left corner from the previous painting. When setting out to paint on the Isle of Wight you need a tide timetable to coordinate your painting time. It goes in and out more or less once a day, sometimes I would hope to paint the sand and then arrive and realise that it was still two feet under the sea. So here the tide was coming in and so were the crabs. Its amazing how they they find toes so tasty and I had to make a run for it, also my easel got really rusty after its little paddle in the salt water. I’m sure tying some type of plastic around each leg would save it in future maritime trips! The sea gives us so many moods and colours to look at and it is so changeable, nothing is ever the same as you left it the day before.
And this is the same beach again, Ducie Beach in the early morning just as the fog was lifting. I hadn’t planned to paint fog that day, I had in mind a crisp view looking towards the Lifeboat Station with all the breakwaters in the foreground. Thanks to the fog I managed to blur out all the nitty-gritty because what I really wanted to paint were the old and gnarly breakwaters, (the wooden posts that artificially protect the beach from water erosion and are quite characteristic of this beach, anyway to me they are).
One thing for sure is you have to eat a lobster. I painted this one before it was politely devoured. These ones from the English Channel are bigger and sweeter than from anywhere else!
These toothlike white stacks of eroded chalk which have become world famous are called the Needles. The name comes from a fourth pillar (shown in the engraving below) which was more needle-shaped than what we see today. The original ‘Needle’ pillar collapsed in a storm in 1764, and at the far end is a red and white lighthouse which warns sailors of the treacherous waters. The Needles are both frightening and beautiful, a place for pirates, shipwrecks and suicides but also an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Please check back for more paintings of the Isle of Wight soon!
Trees and rivers are my inspiration here, they make up for buildings and the roads in towns. We are in Ligura at 370mt above sea level surrounded by chestnut trees, oak, walnut, hazelnut, acacia, pines and many more. Most of the trees I guess are about 40 years old, many grown up from long forgotton terraces that were cultivated when the valleys were more densely populated with people. This is an old nut tree, one of the survivors because it will always feed you!
Just around the corner the river runs wild in heavy rain. The roaring of the water is exciting after a year of dry weather. I did this painting from a window looking down onto the river as it rained, it was luxury plein air painting with all the comforts of heat and a dry palette without those annoying raindrops that accumulate onto the brushes and make the colours feel as if you are painting with vaseline!
Just one building sits on top of this mountain, the Sanctuario della Madonna del Dragnone. Monte Dragnone is just over 1000mt high and it lies in the area of Zignago, in the La Spezia region of Liguria. It has a very steep and rocky path climbing up beneath the pine trees to the summit where todays Santuario sits. Built in the 1800’s on a pre-christian site signs of the bronze and iron age have also been found.
As popular tradition tells us the Madonna appeared infront of a deaf shepherdess miracolously bringing back her voice. The spiritual following of the Madonna del Dragnone, Patron of Zignago, is still very popular and on the 8th September pilgrims from far and wide, old and young make their way on foot to the top of Monte Dragnone to the Sanctuary.
This 17th century sanctuary of Nostra Signora dell’Ulivo is built on the hills overlooking Brugnato, a small Ligurian town that sits in the valley below Monte Dragnone. The Sanctuary has been built on one of the several oratories that were constructed by the Brugnato monks in the 7th Century. There wasn’t much room to get a good view of the facade, (and the same problem happened in the Dragnone Sanctuary!) however after a bit of exploring I preferred this view amongst the olive trees overlooking the valley. Each olive tree has metal plaques with names and dates on tied on chains around their trunks, if you are born here in this community then you can have an olive tree planted in your name.
Last month I subscribed to Making a Mark a practical and well known blog for artists. It is packed full of information, techniques and tips for art and business in the art world.
I was happy to see a mention of my painting During the Summer which was exhibited in the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, 2015 London show in December. The author goes to many art exhibitions and writes up a blog review afterwards. This was one of them.
Here is the link to her review and from here you can continue to read her other posts:
A brief scattering of snow in the hills above where we live is all what was given for this quick painting before the year is out. (It was quick because after a bit of standing around I find dark forests get cold and creepy!)
I decided to do a couple of rose studies while the roses were still flowering, for me roses and the soft autumn light this year is more inspiring than what was offered in spring. Autumn brings the most colourful season and it feels good to be outside painting it! While the undergrowth turns away for winter and the possibilities of summer are gone I noticed the little things that still hang on like the flowering roses, beautiful soft pink roses clashing with the autumn decay!
I tried to define the rose leaves and petals with a flat brush, cutting into the wet paint to “sculpt” the petal or leaf without drawing it was easier. There is alot to look at when painting foliage so it was time to forget about each individual leaf and look out for the areas of darks and lights.
Zinnia flowers are the lazy gardeners best friend. Last year I started off with just a few and this summer they had grown everywhere, a forest of colours attracting so many butterflies and hummingbird hawk-moths. They are late summers last burst of sunshine and even though autumn is here the sun is still shining on this terrace!
What struck me to paint this scene was the way that the brightly coloured flowers light up against the dark background which I think helps to break up some of the bushy leafy greens. After a bit of experimenting to get the flowers to jump out I decided to dull down and darken the green leaves while using different variations of colour, value and chroma to keep the green interesting. To express the brightness of the flowers which bring a bit of excitement into an otherwise big area of green I tried to keep the reds as saturated as possible, paint does not come close to real life’s value range and it is suprising how colours in nature are brighter than the colours you can make on the palette!
One of the most exciting things in Spring is waiting for the Wisteria to burst into cascading purple flowers (yes, my life is pretty exciting 😉 ) but after painting this I am pretty glad to wait another year until it flowers again.
Apparantly purple is a colour linked with royalty and mystery and it is also a difficult colour for our eye to discriminate because it has the shortest wavelength in the light spectrum. I definently found this to be true while painting and comparing the flowers to the green grass!
Marridge Hill in afternoon light on a cold but sunny winter’s day is a view I have always wanted to paint and its been around a long time. Almost unchanged since the 16th Century it is British farmland at its best!
The hill is made up of chalk which lends well to its reflecting colours from the sun enhanced by the dark trees in the foreground. Painting either in early morning or late afternoon light provides good shadows and a palette that is richer in reds. I hope to post more paintings soon from a recent trip to England!