Saturday, 27 June 2009

New Painting

Cars and the Central Hotel (work in progress)

Yesterday was a miserable day for weather - rain and fog for most of the day, so I was glad to have another new painting to start.

Don't judge this too soon. It's the work of only about an hour and a half, the colours are only approximated in most cases and the red underpainting is showing through in a lot of places.

Nevertheless, I think this could prove to be a successful addition to my transport works.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Now where was I?

Oak Citadel (work in progress)

It seems such a long while since I spent any time at the Club and today proved to be not the best day to pick up where I'd left off, at least in terms of finding out what everyone had been up to.

Maybe they're all on holiday, or perhaps it was just too hot in the studio. I learned last time that although the skylight windows open, they can't be closed again. So, of course, they never get opened and we have to rely on keeping the fire exit door open and switching on the fans. Boy, does it get hot in there!

After a while the heat evidently got too much for those who were there and I was left on my own. Enforced solitude is good for getting things done, however, so I made good progress with this new painting, based on a drawing I made in Sawrey two years ago. It'll make a companion for the other painting of the same stand of oaks I was working on in April. They should both come to completion together now.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Back from London

Intercity 4 (Fine tip marker, A6 sketchbook)

I'd worried all week about how I was going to find space on the train for my paintings, especially the 3ft by 3ft, but Pat did a great job of finding out about a space in Standard Coach B (the quiet coach) behind one of the seats just big enough for a 3ft square painting. And coincidentally, we ended up in the seats behind which the space exists.

Handing-in wasn't until Saturday, so we had Friday to go into town and see what the RA Summer Exhibition amounted to this year. I have to say that I didn't find it terribly inspiring. Even the Small Weston Room, usually full of delightful little treasures, disappointed because the hanger, Mick Rooney, had filled one wall with small prints. Which may explain why I'd found the Large Weston Room, which shows prints, also disappointing.

Had I money to spare, however, I'd willingly have parted with some of it for one of Hilary Paynter's wood engraving of The Ouseburn. Unlike a host of others, I certainly wouldn't have fallen victim to the foolish desire to buy a print of Tracey Emin's crap little Space Monkey.

There were a few others I liked - Barbara Rae as always, William Bowyer, Ken Howard (great on light as ever), and Ben Levene (save for one dreadful green thing which I chose to regard as an aberration). Adrian Berg, whom I've always liked, has moved into an area of rather naive paintings based on ethnic fabrics which aren't entirely to my taste either. Overall, I came away somewhat deflated instead of buzzing with new ideas.

Handing in my Threadneedle works on Saturday took very little time but as my three pieces were given numbers in the upper 190s, and there were two more handing-in days, it began to feel increasingly unlikely that I might get accepted (they intend to select only about 60 works for the show). Still, nothing ventured ....

Before catching the train back to Newcastle, we had time to check out King's Place near King's Cross Station. What a fantastic space. They were showing Frans Widerberg's big paintings, some of which I've seen before, but all of which I'd missed when they were shown at Northumbria Gallery earlier this year. They really do benefit from being seen in this huge space.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

To London

Intercity Traveller (fine-tip marker, A6 sketchbook)

The paintings are wrapped and I'm off to London with them. Handing-in for the Threadneedle Prize is on Saturday, so at least I'll have Friday to get round a gallery or two.

I'm filled with trepidation. I don't enjoy carrying paintings on public transport, so I expect to spend half my time on the train worrying who's going to put their foot through my masterpiece. Still .... soon be over.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Tree Sketches

Vivien Blackburn has come up with another challenge and as I'm unlikely to be able to post anything new in the coming week, I thought this was a suitable way of keeping at least some of you amused.

Vivien has asked for "sketches of trees done from life". Luckily trees (and rocks) tend to be the only thing I ever find to draw when I'm in the country, unless it's a bit of broken-down agricultural machinery. So here's a slideshow of various trees, stumps and branches, done over a period of some years, all from life

Monday, 15 June 2009

Wooden Train at Soller

Wooden Train at Soller (oil on canvas, 24 x 24 ins) Private Collection

Time to stop fiddling and put this one to rest. I'm happy enough with it and I think it fits nicely in what's become a loose collection of series: The Vaporetto Series, The Prague Tram Series and now the Wooden Train (series of one).

I'm quite anxious to start a new painting which will also follow the general trend of these paintings, but it's going to have to wait until at least next week, I think. First of all I have to get the paintings down to London and submitted to the Threadneedle Prize - travelling down on Thursday, back on Saturday - then there's my good friend Christine's Hen Party (+Stags) at Hexham Races Ladies Day on Sunday.

Sometimes it just seems all go.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Union Quay Artists Collective

On Wednesday night, I went down to Tynemouth Metro Station to visit the Union Quay Artists. The Metro Station there is a lovely old Grade II listed Victorian station with a curious covered bridge over the line. There are two pedestrian walkways, between which is a long gallery space, the original purpose of which I can't imagine. For some time now, however, it's been used as a temporary exhibition space with rail passengers being able to view the work through the little windows running the length of the walkways.

In March, the Union Quays Artists began to set up some temporary studios in the Bridge and since then have been drawing, painting and holding workshops (see their blog). While I've been less than enthusiastic about some of the temporary shows in the Bridge, I thought this was a really good one and I confess to a frisson of envy. In the light of my recent work, I could envisage some interesting subjects coming through the station on the Metro trains.

My friend Barbara Maskrey, one of the artists there, invited me to their Artists Evening on Wednesday night and my only regret is that I couldn't get there earlier. Still, I had an hour and a half to meet and talk to the other artists there, and I hope to be able to meet them again soon. Making contacts with other artists is a Good Thing, I think.

Longbenton Skies

Although, when Vivien Blackburn issued her sky-sketching challenge in May, I didn't have time to take her up on it, I was determined to find an old sketchbook that had some skies in it.

In March of 1990 I found myself in an office with views of the sky and while I don't remember what prompted it, I bought a ring-bound A5 pad of Ingres pastel paper and some oil pastels which I put in a little box marked "SKIES". Whenever the opportunity arose - in other words, when the office was otherwise empty - I quickly sketched the sky, noting the date and time.

In April 1990, I moved into another office with views of ... another office.

As luck would have it, I couldn't find the sketchbook in good time to link with Vivien's listing of sky-bloggers but I came across it today, along with various sentimental items I thought were long ago destroyed, so here are the five sketches of the skies over Newcastle Central Office in March 1990.

1 March 1990, 4.25pm

15 March 1990, 3.45pm

19 March 1990, 11.15am

20 March 1990, 12.00pm

March 1990 (no specific date or time)

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Print Group

Flyover (etching)

My second discipline of choice at Uni, after painting, was printmaking. I loved etching and relief printing and always vowed I'd take them up again one day. That came a step nearer today when the inaugural meeting of the Print Group was held at the Art Club.

Some time ago the Club bought - at a very reasonable price - a rather good press suitable for intaglio and relief printmaking and after some setting up and buying of materials, we had an introductory meeting today. About half a dozen people turned up and the methods of making plates were discussed, the operation of the press demonstrated and safety measures emphasised.

To be honest, I didn't really go to do any printmaking today; I simply wanted to reacquaint myself with the processes. However, I did take along the plate from the print above (made at Uni) and ran off one or two just to get my hand in. Apart from using water-based inks this time, it was all as I remembered.

We've decided to make the first Wednesday of the month a regular meeting day for the Group, to avoid painters on other days of the week, but with the option of going in to print on other Wednesdays.

I came home with one or two pieces of lino. Now all I need is to make some studio time at home to work up something printable.

Monday, 8 June 2009

And again, Wayne Thiebaud

I make no apologies for posting another video about Wayne Thiebaud. The man's work fascinates me and in this video there's a chance to see him applying paint.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Almost There

Train at Soller (work in progress)

Finding some time available before going off to the Art Club to catch up on events there, I've put in some of the defining lines in the structure of the town. I've also darkened the sky which I think makes it sit better in the whole composition.

Very little more to be done; more definition to the carriage, one of the passengers to be completed and possibly a change to the colour of the man's shirt, second from the left.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Satisfactory Day

Train at Soller (work in progress)

Things went really well today. The photograph above makes the colours of the town much too bright (too near the strip light), but in reality they're just about right for me and the town has taken it's proper place within the composition.

There are the little details to attend to now, like roof lines, straightening up windows, some glazing here and there, but it shouldn't be long before I can call it finished.

Monday, 1 June 2009

The Train Starts

Train at Soller (work in progress)

I was conscious of the fact that in submitting a painting that hadn't even been started, I was taking a risk, so I figured the sooner I start on it the better. Yesterday I drew it out on the canvas, after toning it with burnt sienna acrylic. Today I began the actual painting. Although there are things wrong with it - the buildings at the back aren't yet in their proper spatial relationship to the train - I think I was right to be optimistic about it.

You should ignore the cast shadow at the bottom right, by the way. That's actually the shadow of the pyracantha in the garden rather than part of the painting. Although ..... having said that, I'm tempted to include it now.

Entering Threadneedle

Both Vivien and April, in their comments on the previous post, suggested that I deliver my submissions to the Threadneedle Prize in person, making a day of it in London. Having checked the prices of the courier, I've come to the same conclusion: it would be almost as cheap and more fun to do it myself.

The return ticket from London to Newcastle is booked. Now all I need is to find out when I can get the Tram pictures back from Preston Hall and I'll be able to book the ticket to London, making at least a couple of days there.