From the Isle of Wight

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.

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Path to the Beach, Bembridge, Study. 20cm x 30cm. OIl on Panel.

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!

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Rising Tide Towards Seaview. 45cm x 50cm. OIl on Panel

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.

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Lifting Fog, Ducie Beach. Isle of Wight. 50cm x 70cm. Oil on Panel.

 

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).

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Lobster Study. 35cm x 45cm, oil on panel.

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!

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The Needles, Alum Bay. 17cm x 35cm. Oil on Panel

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.

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The Fourth “Needle” that collapsed in 1764. ‘The Needles from Isaac Taylor’s “one inch map” of Hampshire’.

Please check back for more paintings of the Isle of Wight soon!

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Rivers and Trees

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!

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Il Vecchio Noce. Oil on panel, 20cm x 30cm.

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!

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River in January. Oil on panel, 35cm x 45cm.

Autumn.

Here are a couple of paintings just before we move into winter!

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Kaki Tree. 35cm x 45cm, oil on wood.
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Picking Chestnuts. 20cm x 30cm, oil on wood.

Yellow Roses

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Yellow Roses, oil on wood. 30cmx 40cm.

I had some yellow roses growing on a wall and with all the sun and dry weather this summer the blooms were at their best!  This is an oil study I painted before they all disappeared.

In this painting I mainly used a flat brush. For me brushes are an important part of my equipment and the flat brushes especially because I find them to be the most versatile because you can make many different strokes, a wide stroke, a narrow stroke and then by twisting a triangular stroke which helped with the petals.

This summer I have been busy with lots of new works and I will post some them as soon as my computer is on the mend 😉

May

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La Villa Abbandonata. Oil on wood, 30cm x 40cm.
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Wisteria. Oil on wood, 30cm x 40cm.

In Italy during May gardens are at their best, even when they have been forgotten but where everything still grows anyway.  I stumbled across this villa and the garden that is almost abandoned and it was fun trying to put some long awaited colours into the greenery, with the spring grasses long and overgrown and the little wild flowers reaching through!

Autumn Rose Oil Painting Studies

Rose Study with Trees, oil on wooden board, 20cmx 30cm.
Rose Study with Trees, oil on wooden board, 20cmx 30cm.

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.

Down by the River

Down by the River.  Oil on board, 25cm x 35cm.
Down by the River. Oil on board, 25cm x 35cm.

The days are getting longer and so more time to be outside playing and painting!

Mimosa

Mimosa.  Oil on board, 20cm x 30cm
Mimosa. Oil on board, 20cm x 30cm

A few wonderful facts about the Mimosa:

1. It lights up the winter with its bright yellow flowers

2. It inspires a delicious recipe for an italian cream cake called Torta Mimosa.

3.  A champagne cocktail is named after it (one part champagne and one part fruit juice).

However when I came to painting the tree it was almost as frustrating as trying to spread cold butter on an even colder pancake!

Mimosa and Sunflowers. Oil on board, 20cm x 30cm.
Mimosa and Sunflowers. Oil on board, 20cm x 30cm.

Have your feet ever FROZEN to the ground while painting?!!

A Frosty Morning on the Lambourn Downs at Sheepdrove Farm. Oil on wood, 20cm x 30cm.
A Frosty Morning on the Lambourn Downs at Sheepdrove Farm. Oil on wood, 20cm x 30cm.

Tip of the day: When painting in the English cold or any cold weather keep moving your feet or they will freeze to the ground. Tried and tested while painting here!

Luckily I had wollen fingerless (cashmere wool which I couldnt get dirty because they were my sisters’!!) mittens for my hands which kept them warm enough compared to my feet.  I also read that to keep your hands even warmer you can wear a wool sock with a small hole in the end which allows you to hold a paintbrush with your bare hand and still have all the control you need, while the paintbrush tip pokes out from the end with no mess. I am looking forward to trying this as I am not sure how tricky it would be changing over brushes.

Also standing on a piece of cardboard can keep your feet from touching the freezing cold/snowy ground whereas helping to keep your whole body more comfortable which leads to longer comfortable sessions…but I guess hand knitted 100% woollen socks could help too!

Lambourn and the surrounding downland is a really pretty area best known today as a major horse racing centre and the Downs have many nice views to paint.

Marridge Hill, England.

Afternoon Light on Marriage Hill.  Oil on panel, 20cmx 30cm.
Afternoon Light on Marriage Hill. Oil on panel, 20cmx 30cm.

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!