Monday, 1 August 2016

THE MARINA PICS

Oak Bay Marina is near my studio and I often head down there for a quick field study or to gather reference for future studio paintings. I recently realized just how many there are and thought I would post some of them here.

 As you will see, many of them feature an old blue rowboat whose peeling paint and overall battered appearance really appealed to me. Imagine my dismay when I met the owner of 'my' old blue boat and he told me it had been lost at sea. And...he has replaced it with a newer, stubbier, less interesting boat.  I told him that simply wouldn't do!

The first painting I'm posting is called Over the Rocks, a 6x8 study. Looking through my files I found that I had photographed this one part way through, something that I always intend to do but usually forget.





The first two of the next 6x8's were painted with my little pochade box balanced on my knee while sitting on an overturned rowboat or a log. I tidied up the masts back in the studio as I find it isn't always easy to get them in cleanly out in the field.





I painted Rowboat at the Marina one morning when out with six friends. It is one of those rare paintings that go smoothly from start to finish. I liked it so much that I did a larger studio piece from the study and some photo reference.

Rowboat at the Marina   12x10
Shore Time  24x18

Several years ago I did several larger 24x24 paintings of the blue rowboat and have just recently completed two more.  I had a lot of fun with the first one, imaginatively called Blue Rowboat, playing with a looser treatment and simple colour scheme. I kept the background marina very uncomplicated really using only two colours. I repeated the blues and violets of the background in the rocks and in the boat.


I think the attraction for me in The Bicycle and the Boat, 24x24, was twofold.  The textures on the boat, especially the back area, and the bike up on the bank. I pushed the bicycle back a bit to increase the sense of space and to allow the boat to really dominate. As in almost all my paintings, the painting knives were used throughout.  I think this is particularly evident in the work on the sides of the boat and the rocks.


The next blue rowboat painting is Blue Boat Reflected, 24x24. This one is divided into three horizontal bands which could be problematic but varying the width and value of the bands allows it to work. I like to have areas of thin, even scratchy, paint along with thicker brush or knife work. I make use of the painting knife in various ways - in the bushes I alternated between laying in colour with a brush and 'messing' it up with the knife and applying paint with the knife and cutting back in with the brush.  I also used a knife to scrape paint away to create textures and to thinly apply paint in a scratchy way as on the boats and the grasses.


And the last one in the blue boat series is called White Boats on a Beach, 18x24.  The central boat is the one that replaced my dear old blue rowboat. In reality it is bright blue and very bright yellow, has a snub nose and is rather squat in appearance. But its position on the beach in relation to the others and the lighting appealed to me so I decided to use it but change its appearance. I elongated it, added the pointy front making it more like my old blue rowboat and put some oars and 'stuff' inside it. My first intention was to make it blue but I felt it worked better in this instance to keep all the boats white.



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Tuesday, 2 February 2016

THE REJECT CUPBOARD

 Well, the last two months have been unusual for me; some family issues cropped up and my painting time became very disjointed.  I found it difficult to concentrate and to plan and execute any new larger work so I turned to my 'might be salvageable' cupboard where I keep a stack of paintings that didn't work for one reason or another.  I like to play about with them when I have an odd hour here or there. Sometimes adjustments to the colour or values is all that is needed or the brushwork can be cleaned up or the painting is too tight and some bolder brush or knife work might liven it up.  Or, at the time, I didn't have a clear idea how to handle a new subject but later I can see my through it.  Of course there are those pictures that just shouldn't have been started in the first place - the ones where I scratch my head and wonder what ever was I thinking!

The painting below was done from some reference I gathered when visiting with a friend on his boat at a marina in Sidney.  It started life as a 24x18 with a fairly faithful representation of the boats in the background, a lot of rocks and water in the foreground and some geese in the middle bit.  It didn't work.  It was boring and it ended up in the reject cupboard.  Recently, I hauled it out and tackled it again.

I'll post the new version first followed by the 'reject'.
I invite you to play 'spot the difference'. 



What did I do?
I sorted through my reference files and found another group of boats with the same lighting and, without planning or drawing anything, I started on the right and worked across to the left.  First I broke up that dull wall of green with some sky and a suggestion of buildings and added some rocks and beach and then the boats and reflections.

I decided that the large rock upon which the two geese are standing was too large and dull so I flattened it.  And the row of sleeping geese which I had once thought made an interesting shape, had to go.  I started replacing them with water and reflections and some more mud but stopped before eliminating all of them. I probably went to make a cup of tea.  I'm glad I did because I think the two that I left are fine.

I then tried a number of approaches to the bottom third but nothing worked so I stuck a piece of masking tape across it at the 18" mark.  Better.  I took out most of the rocks and mud I had painted and went back to a larger area of water to lead into the painting. This time I kept it simpler allowing the top third to draw the eye.
Better still.
I think this one can stay out of the cupboard........

Saturday, 17 October 2015

SIDNEY SHOW


The Sidney Show is a large exhibition that takes place annually on Vancouver Island, BC.
I was pleased to have the two paintings I submitted for adjudication accepted and even more so when each went on to win an award.  Below are the two paintings.  

The first was painted from a field study done on the Saanich Peninsula and reference photos.  It is a favourite view of mine looking across the valley over the Lochside Trail and various horse farms to the sea and islands beyond.  I love it.

The second is also a subject that I love.  These are fishing boats in the town of Rye in East Sussex, England.  I spent several weeks painting in and around Rye during a 3 month painting trip a few years ago.  A tidal river runs through the town which makes for endless interesting subjects and views.  At low tide the boats are left on the muddy river bottom, at high tide the scene is transformed.  Grassy banks and fields adjoin the river and sheep are all over the place.  They were often very nosey when I was working.

VALLEY BY THE SEA  20x24 -  Show Organizer's Choice Award
TWO BY TWO 18x24 -Juror's Choice Award



Thursday, 6 August 2015

A GREAT WAY TO SPEND A MORNING:

Jim McFarland and Clement Kwan working hard on a gloomy but interesting day at Gyro Beach
The view at Gyro Beach

Lots of mornings at Willows Beach and Oak Bay Marina.  I love to get up very early in the summer, walk on the beach and then do a quick study.


I was giving a lesson at the marina one morning and this family joined us - the little ones all settled in for a nap not 20 feet away



One of McFarland's favourite beaches

Joined a bunch of friends to paint overlooking the Lagoon
Ken Faulks lurking in the bushes

At Pearson College
The view at Pearson College

Ken Faulks lurking again 


Friday, 26 June 2015

PROCESS































I don't have a formula but this is a fairly typical start to a painting. I've blocked in most of the areas with the exception of the roof of the building. I started by placing the main shapes on the panel with diluted warm reddish brown and then scumbled in the darks in the shadow of the boat shed, the boat on the bank and the undersides of the docks and foreground boats. I laid in the red sail as it is the focal area followed by the greens.  It is basically a composition made up of horizontals (the greens and the blue-greys of the sky and water) broken by the verticals of the masts. 




This is not the best photo - it came out a bit dark but it gives a suggestion of the finished painting.  I wish I had photographed it in between the two stages.  I think I would have liked it better one stage before this one......

Monday, 6 April 2015

TWO STAGES


This is fairly typical of the way I block in a painting.  I usually start with a bit of line done with a bristle brush and diluted Transparent Oxide Red.  Then I scumble in the dark areas.  With this painting, I laid in the foreground in broad washes hoping to leave a lot of it showing in the final version.


HORSES   14x24
The finished painting -  as usual I find I prefer much of the loose block in with it's vigorous energy.


Thursday, 26 February 2015

PIC FOR THE OPA SHOW

I entered the Oil Painters of America Exhibition this year for the first time.  I only joined last January and missed the deadline for 2014 but I made sure to enter this year.  And I'm really pleased to learn that I had a painting accepted.  They allow two submissions from each painter but only one will be accepted.  This is the one they chose.  This painting also was awarded FIRST PLACEin the OPA Spring Showcase.  It is available at the West End Gallery in Victoria  http://www.westendgalleryltd.com/

Twelve Small Boats, oil, 26x36

I often think I will take photos of a painting at various stages along the way but get so involved in what I'm doing that I forget to take more than one or two.  With this painting, I did take one shot right after the layout stage when I had just started to block in the darks and shadows.  Later on I made a few compositional changes so you can play 'spot the difference'.  And you can decide if I might have been well advised to leave the composition as I had it in the initial block in.

Initial Block In

I also took a close up of some of the small boats showing the sort of brushwork I used:

Detail  showing some of the boats