Thursday, 21 August 2014

Contre jours

Thumbing through a back issue of the SAA's magazine "Paint" I came across an article by Paul Apps in which he explained how he did a contre-jour painting in oils of Venice. Contre jours simply means "into the light" and although this is something I've done in photography, it is something I've never attempted with my art.  I was very interested in the article and the evocative descriptions of the intense light on the water but tossed it to one side as I don't do oils.

However, the image stayed in my mind especially the bright highlights on the water and the muted, almost non-existent colours of the city behind, and eventually I mused "why does it have to be in oils .... why not graphite?". In my opinion, graphite is underrated and underused for landscape and seascape work so I decided I'd have-a-go and see what I could make of it.

I used artistic licence to darken the sky considerably from the light, twilit sky in the reference photo, and it's been necessary to darken the water too, in order to make those highlights sing. The end result gives a much darker picture but I'd like to think it's captured the atmosphere of a day drawing to its close.

This probably sounds like a very silly thing to say, but while making this picture I felt less as if I was drawing and more as if I was 'painting with pencil'. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014


After a long abstention from painting I have finally taken up my brushes again. Regular followers will know that I enjoy working with Line & Wash and it therefore seemed the easiest way to ease myself back into painting. The first painting is an oval tub of Fuchsia's. Though I'm not a great gardener (pretty bad actually) I do have a passion for Fuchsia's. I have about 60-ish named varieties, and several plants of each, so that's a lot of plants. My garden is littered with containers and terracotta pots containing fuchsia's. This small oval tub with its weather stained wood and rusting straps contains a variety called "Snowcap".

The second painting is a sketch of a Narrow Boat I saw when walking the tow path of a stretch of the Grand Union Canal that passes fairly close to here. I find I can sketch plein aire much better than I can paint, so this medium suits me very well as I can do the line work in the field and add the colour back at home.

Finally, something completely different for me. In my forum we run regular challenges and this one was simply called 'Heat'. No pen or pencil here ..... just lots of wet yellows and oranges. It's entirely made up and looks more 'abstract' than anything else. Still, it looks hot, and that was the objective.