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December 2015

Cyclists, Chipping Sodbury High Street


Chipping Sodbury, England, 22" x 15".

Fresh after doing a recent painting of a Spanish town with some cyclists, I decided to repeat again in a scene more local to me.  The key thing I think with a bicycle is getting the proportions of the shapes right - the frame and figure above it, the equal sized wheels of course and their distance apart.  The whole bicycle length is about 2.5 wheel diameters.  And the cyclist legs are just a blur because they're in motion.  The scene is based on a row of houses around the old Grapes pub.


Market Place, Marshfield, England


Marshfield, England, 15" x 22"

A view of Market Place in the centre of Marshfield village near Bath.  This was a 'plein air' painting with a local artists group.  I don't often paint in a portrait orientation, but this composition needed it I think.  I gave my apologies to the local villagers as I was straddled across their main pavement.  One thing I changed in the scene was the old street light - it's actually on the other wall of the building, but I thought it looked better silhouetted against the light.


Shady street, Montpon Menesterol, France


Montpon Menesterol, France, 15" x 11".

 Key elements of this picture - initial wash started with the sky and allowing a small amount of bleeding into the roof tops (which I actually went over again when it was dry), then while it was still damp, I added some extra colours for example the blue for the car which you can see travelled to the surrounding areas.  When the wash was completely dry (I sometimes speed up the process with a hair dryer) I used a large synthetic brush size 20 with a very good point (I find the Escoda synthetics have excellent points to them) to do the very dark shadows.


Cottages at Saltford near Bath - different watercolour techniques


Saltford, Bath, England, 15" x 11"

A painting based on a photo from a recent plein air trip.  Quite a few watercolour techiniques are being used in this painting - the initial wash with a large mop brush, a bit of 'wet in wet' with the sky blending into the roof tops.  Similar to wet in wet I have dropped clear water into the tree when it was still damp to get a cascading, running effect.  I have also washed out a bit of the shadows and figures.  Finally I have used some white gouache and dry brush strokes for the window details.  You can overdo it with the while highlights and I was close to the mark!


Quai Salvette, Bergerac, France


Bergerac, France, 15" x 11"

A view along the river to the bridge crossing the River Dordogne in Bergerac.  It was a late summer afternoon and the sun was strong, coming from the right.  So when the light is behind, I sometimes let the background building blend into the sky so that is is less sharp in outline.  One minor thing I might change if I did this scene again is maybe leave out the foreground parked cars and just extend the shadow across that area instead.


Entrance to Weston Super Mare Pier


Weston Super Mare, England, 15" x 11"

Perhaps a more unusual view of the pier at Weston Super Mare, and its entrance (the pier runs out to the left, into the Bristol Channel).  I was most pleased about the way the shadow on the left came out and the range of colours in there - I was almost mixing the colours on the paper so you get areas where the pigment was thicker, than in weaker areas it blends more easily rather than staying in one place.  Also, while the shadows were still damp, I created the pavement lines with clear water and a synthetic brush with a good point.


Saint Meard de Gurcon, France


St Meard de Gurcon, France, 15" x 11"

The village of Saint Meard de Gurcon in the Dordogne, France.  What I think makes it look like France is putting in those window shutters emphasised by their shadows.  Key things on this painting - not make the pedestrian crossing too neat, but try and get the perspective looking right!  Connect all the shapes - the street bollards, the figure, the cars - all joined or via their shadows.  Also the foreground a bit darker in tone as it comes towards us, and finish off with some dry brush strokes for tyre marks on the road.


Uphill Wharf, Weston Super Mare 1


Uphill Boat Yard, England, 22" x 15"

Uphill Wharf near Weston Super Mare, and an assortment of boats being maintained in this tidal area.  Painting was done on a plein air trip with some local UK watercolour artists. It was a windy day in mid summer so I had to weigh down my palette and keep it horizontal to stop it flying away.  I decided to put in my trademark 'fat man and his dog'.  More pictures to follow from my trip (took plenty of photos while there as references for future paintings)


Plaça de Sant Feliu, Girona


Girona, Spain, 15" x 11".

Plaça de Sant Feliu in the old part of Girona city.  Apart from the tree, I didn't go so dark on this one.  I suppose trying to keep it light in the shadows with the bright reflections bouncing around the high buildings here.  Shadows were kept quite cool also with some cobalt blue.  The whole painting done with a medium sized mop brush and a small synthetic for details. 

Cottages near the River Avon, Saltford, Bath


Saltford, Bath, England, 22" x 15".

A row of cottages down near the River Avon near Saltford.  This was a plein air painting with fellow artist Jem Bowden back in the summer.  I think the main thing that attracted me to this scene was probably the garage roof on the left and the contrast with the background trees. Second were the telegraph poles and the angle leading the eye into the composition.  I didn't have to change much from what was actually there, apart from introducing the figure and dog.