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For this painting exercise, choose a view of either a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ landscape.

This is pretty difficult at the moment.  Its February and very cold and the weather is very unpredictable.

I began by going out with my sketchbook when possible just to get used to working outside.

I have been enjoying using biro and so for the first picture above I took out a small bottle of ready mixed Ochre, acrylic paint.  First adding the paint and then drawing over in biro.  The second third and fourth pictures were done the next day in a different spot, but with watercolour laid first and then biro.  It was much colder the second outing, despite a flask of coffee.  The view of the the fields in green and blue was done outside, but my fingers were numb!  I retreated to the car for the second two sketches and the trick now would be to find a good view I can see from the car!!

Whilst I wait for decent weather, its pouring again today, I resort to the internet for research…….

……..I looked  at the work of John Virtue on the internet and admire the wild expressionism of his work, the black and white pallet and the feeling that he has screwed up his eyes and just picked one feature of the view to paint clearly.  I took as simple photo from the internet, whilst trawling industrial England and did a charcoal sketch, trying for just an impression of what I was looking at, with no great detail, rubbing out the charcoal with my fingers and going over it again.

707_360.jpgJohn Virtue1ec5124a335baea7f8a404b2a38ec4ed.jpg


I was encouraged by the result and tried and acrylic painting with just Black and White again trying to not be too literal and working very quickly.


I had put some newspaper on the page as a ground and although I obliterated it with the paint, as it dried you can see the lines of the edges of the strips, these are rather happy accidents which I feel add to the atmosphere of gloom and decay.

Little bit of sunshine today, so I ventured out in the car.  Found a spot by the local reservoir that I could try from the comfort of the car.DSC_0008.jpg

I had laid an acrylic wash the night before and started to layout the picture in oils.  The smell of the solvent in the enclosed space gave me a headache, but at least I had started “from life”.   Unfortunately, It began to rain so I headed home again.


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Taking the picture home I then tried to add some more from memory and began with the sky and water.



It looked a little better, but I wasn’t very happy with it.  I  did like the fact that the fence framed the view   In the real scene there was a lot of bramble and dried grasses by the fence which almost obscured the reservoir. But I really didn’t feel inclined to work on it further .



I picked up my sketch book and a glue spreader and used up the paint I had on my pallet by trying to do the scene again using this painting as a guide.


I very much like the quick painting in my sketchbook.  The colours are not as realistic, however there is more immediacy about it and it feels more outdoorsy as if standing in the wind. This has more atmosphere and, like the picture of the row of houses demands to be looked at in order to see the scene ………everything is not ‘spelt out’ for the viewer.DSC_0005.jpg

What I have learnt from this exercise.

  • I feel that my painting works better if it is not laboured…ie more spontaneous.
  • Its not always a brush that I prefer.  Using the glue spreader, not unlike the edge of a credit card in the first exercise is fun and make interesting marks, open to interpretation by the onlooker.
  • By taking more time with the exercise  and experimenting, I have found some interesting outcomes which are not as literal as some of my earlier painting.