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The brief asks us to review the paintings produced in this part of the module and I have, first looked back at the work produced. Reading from bottom right backwards to top left I can see how I have been  working on loosening my painting and every now and then I get pulled back into being more literal.  Trying different methods of applying paint and scraffito have featured more and more and the work that was more spontaneous and/or on the spot is far more interesting.  Working quickly seems to produce more interesting results for me, the mark making is bolder and freer and in 2,4,and 8 this produced pictures I am more happy with.

Beginning this assignment I already have an idea of the place I want to portray and how I want to work.   I have recently been looking at Joan Eardley and admiring the bold loose style, something I would like to work towards, but which is alien to me. Again I am using familiar territory, my dog walking takes me to some lovely places, but I want to try to include some sort of man made structure into the landscape. This time of year, June, there is an awful lot of green around so I want to find something else to include and break this up.

Having chosen the spot I first want to get my composition sorted so make my first visit just to gather information. I take not only my sketchbook and home made viewfinder, but also my camera.  Over the course of this part of the module I have found that one can use different elements from both.   Sketches and thumbnails are the most valuable in terms of shapes and composition. The camera shots are just a visual reminder when away from the scene, and as I learnt in the last exercise I can pick out pieces from one photo to add and not slavishly follow the photograph.

Walking around the area I took loads of photos from different angles some to experiment with composition some to remind me of natural shapes as in roots, foliage and reflections in the river.

I then started on some thumbnail sketches just to start getting a feel for the tones.


I had taken one of my bits of card so used this with oil pastels to get a feel for the colours, I was starting to choose a particular view now and so went for a large A2 sketch in charcoal and chalk.


As this was much bigger I became more free with the drawing and felt this a good place to stop. Taking this information home to reflect on and to at least start on a coloured ground for use the next day when I will come back and try to get painting in situ.  There is quite a lot of dog walking traffic at this point, but I will just bring headphones an try to ignore it.  I had a lot of people peering over my shoulder today….bit uncomfortable….but when you get chatting most people are ok and just interested.


Day two, lugged all my stuff back again, much sunnier than yesterday, but still quite a bit of doggy traffic.  The smell of the oil paints kept them away though! Ha Ha.

After working for a couple of hours, I took everything back to the car with the intent of finishing at home.  I was getting bitten, forgot the insect repellant!!!!  Over the course of this module I have learnt also that I work better in quick bursts.  If I slog away at something it never seems to work.  If I take regular breaks the eye sees a lot more when I come back.DSC_0055 (1)DSC_0056

These are not great photos, but they show that when I got it home I started to adjust and scratch into the surface.

The following day the rain set in and so going out again was not a possibility.  I became increasing frustrated with trying to portray the river, in particular and it seemed to defeat me not matter how many time I changed the colour.

During the painting I tried to take my frustration out by making another very quick painting alongside the original.


I am undecided about how I feel about this, but it did the trick in helping me to carry on with the original.


At this point I am going to leave it for a couple of days, partly to dry and partly to have a think.

I have used bubblewrap to try and achieve foliage, however this looks a little weird not quite sitting comfortably with the other style so I might need to change this.

During the course of this module there have been several artists that I have discovered that have influenced how I would like to work.  Pierre Bonnard’s coloured grounds struck me first and since then I have used coloured grounds. In this painting I am pleased with the warmth of the red/orange ground which shows through and gives warmth to the scene. I am also trying to work across the whole scene simultaneously which gives a better feel of togetherness in the scene. I have recently discovered  Joan Eardley.  I would like to be able to paint with the seeming wild abandon that her landscapes have.  Clearly I have not achieved anything like that here however, the field in the background is the closest I have come to this sort of looseness and the foreground with several layers of washes is closer to the sort of feel of several layers that she achieves. I would need to give much more time to the oils and their drying process in the future.

After two days………

Having forced myself not to tinker or indeed look at it for two days, I can see three areas immediately that I want to work on.

First the bridge….there’s something awry with the perspective, so I set about trying to amend this.

Second the foliage is way to small for the size of the picture, the bubble wrap was hopeless, so I picked up a much larger brush and got bolder with the paint.

Thirdly the river.  I went back to my tonal thumbnails and noticed a much darker edge to the water caused by rocks.


Final Painting

I took the painting outside to photograph it. This is a much more realistic picture of the colour.

I am much happier with it now.  The particular areas that pleased me are:

  • I have worked to work across all the canvas with my colours and this has tied the picture together there are elements of all the colours in all the areas.
  • I’m glad I sorted out the perspective, its not perfect but much better.
  • I love that not one plank of wood is the same as another, I’ve scratched and played with the colours a lot which I hope makes it look worn and not new.
  • The warmth of the ground colour gives the scene a glow it did not have in life, but a sense I hope of a pleasant place to be.

Next time….

  • Be bolder still.  I feel that this was not the scene to attempt wilder painting.  I had wanted a manmade feature amongst the landscape, but the fact that I chose to paint the bridge right across the canvas limited the attempt I’d hoped to make on being even looser.  I became a little obsessed with getting it right and therefore tightened up.
  • I have learnt more about oils by having to work bigger.  The drying a little frustrating, but when glazing one colour over another I enjoy the interesting depth that can be achieved and in the foreground of this picture.  I would like to follow this up.
  • Although the drying time is long, this makes oils easier to play with whilst wet which made the scraffito fun.  I used a pointed pallet knife and held it at the very edge of the handle with made the marks unpredictable…..more.
  • I don’t enjoy foliage :(….my colours were not considered enough, and the marks rather timid.

I have added a few shots at the bottom of this to show close up areas of the piece.