Monday, 11 May 2009

Architectural Portrait

I am developing a keen interest in painting buildings and was delighted when I was approached recently to do a watercolour of a new office unit being built in farmland locally.
When I visited the site to take some reference photos and get a feel for the place, I was immediatley struck by the lack of background. As with most modern industrial units, this one is very box-like. Smart, but featureless and without character. Sure, I could have painted a box with blue sky above and green grass below, but I wanted my painting to be a 'scene' in its own right, and say something about the area it's located in.

The only solution I could think of was to shift the viewing point to raise the eye-level above the height of the building. This would allow me to 'steal' background from the distant landscape. This was my first experience of this sort of thing and I found it much harder than I'd expected. I thought it was just a case of raising the horizon and adjusting the vanishing points. Well, I guess it was ... but to raise it by the right amount, to give some background without making the building look all roof, took quite a few practice sketches. And without a photo to copy, placing the doors and windows in the right place tested my knowledge of dimishing space to the extreme.

There are things I might do different next time, like possibly using 3-point perspective rather than the 2-point I used for this one. But I'm glad I decided on an angular view showing the front and a side. I think a straight-on frontal view would have made the building look flat and the painting look too symetrical. So, overall I'm not disappointed with the result. I've made a 'painting' out of a structure and shown the surrounding countryside, which says more about the building than the reference photo ever will.

This will make an interesting addition to my 'Architectural Portraits' site as it's the first Industrial building I've painted.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Bluebell Wood

Well, that's not its real name, but it is a wood full of Bluebells, that's for sure. Last Sunday my wife and I went for a stroll through the woods and the carpets of Bluebells were so dense, the air was laden with their scent. Since the few Bluebells I have in my own garden were at their best I was expecting a good show of flowers, so went well prepared with my camera. I've posted one of my shots here, but there are several more on my website at

To my delight, there were many white butterflies enjoying the Bluebells almost as much as I was. Though they were, in the main, camera shy, I did manage to get a couple of decent shots, which can also be seen on the web page.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Weeds ?

Weed: a plant considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome, especially one growing where it is not wanted, as in a garden.

Okay, I can't disagree that some 'weeds' will grow where they're not wanted, such as in the middle of a lawn or in the cracks between paving slabs, but how can we say that these wild flowers, as I prefer to call them, aren't attractive.

The 'blue grape-like berries' of the Grape Hyacinth ( Genus Muscari), rampant clusters of Daisy's (Bellis perennis) and the humble Dandelion (Genus Taraxacum), don't look hugely impressive when we look down on them from our great height, but when we go to the trouble to get down to their level, which few of us do, and take an interest, we see a completely different side to them.

The spherical globe-like flowers of the Grape Hyacinth look more like clusters of grapes when seen from a distance, but their unusual shape and delicate appearance hardly fit with the rugged, tough-as-old-boots reputation of a weed. And how delicate is the 'Clock' of a Dandelion when the flower has finished? Touching it makes it disintegrate into a thousand seed heads. And the Daisy barely gets a second thought other to complain about it making a mess of the lawn.

Perhaps it's time we stopped calling these Wild Flowers 'weeds' and gave them a place to grow. A place they are wanted.