Thursday, 28 April 2011


Took the tube to South Ken and walked up to Hyde Park to paint one of my favourite London structures, the Albert Memorial. Lovely sunny day. Afterwards, walked to Notting Hill Gate, intending to do another plein air study but got caught out by a change in the weather. 24 x 30cm oil on canvas.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011


Today I spent a few hours in Bishop's Park, off Fulham Palace Road, first in the old walled garden, then in the beautiful avenue of Plane trees running along the riverside. I was pleasantly surprised that both pictures turned out in a very good colour key (with good chroma values) which really gave the impression of a bright sunny day... which it was. I was concentrating very hard on the colour notes, at the expense of the brushwork, which unfortunately is rather crude. Nevertheless, I feel progress was made. Both pictures 24 x 30cm on canvas.

Thursday, 21 April 2011


Wednesday started sunny, but soon clouded over. I walked over my favourite footbridge and painted my house (the small white square to the left of the triangular cream facade) and its surroundings. The sky and the sun changed throughout the one and a half hours I was painting. Half the time I was painting contra jour and half the time in overcast conditions. I laid the sky down first, which went well, then things got tricky. I sketched out the very green looking view in green and then added green trees and a green river wall. This was clearly a mistake. It would have been better to sketch in with a mauve line so leaving a few touches of it showing through, complimenting the green. That would have produced a livelier painting, but also a more harmonious one, as there was plenty of pink and blue in the sky. Another lesson learned! The hue of the red boat is correct but its chroma is far too strong for the watery location and dull light. The buoys are too symmetrical and their reflections poorly observed! 24 cm x 30cm oil on canvas.

Saturday, 16 April 2011


Walked over to Bishop's Park off Fulham Palace Road for a plein air session and discovered this beautiful pink tree adjacent to the old palace. I tried pre-mixing colour strings for the foliage. I've never done this before, but was quite pleased with the outcome. A colour string is a range of tones for a given object, so from light pink to rusty brown in this case. The alternative is what is known as free mixing, where you just mix colour notes as you go along. The advantage of a string, it seems to me, is that it results in a more harmonious spread of colour notes, which of course is how the tree actually appeared. 

Thursday, 14 April 2011


Popped along the river to Hammersmith where an interesting rig has just appeared. May be something to do with the planned super sewer under the river. Not sure. One of the lessons I learned today... just because something looks interesting, it may not make a good painting! Other than choosing a dull subject I got a few other things wrong. The perspective on the building in the background seems to have disappeared, and the domes are not similar enough in size. The reflection of the rig is not dark enough. The trees and the sky are too literal, not abstract enough. 

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


Worked up this view from the plein air oil sketch I did on the riverbed last week. Managed to keep the feeling of sun and heat which I felt from being there. Used a palette knife on the columns and sky. I particularly love the contrast in tone between the two adjacent columns, one catching the full force of the midday sun which brings out its colour and texture, the other, so close by, yet black with shadow! Oil on canvas 30 cm x 40cm.

Warmed down with a quick oil sketch of a boot. I walked past it in the street several days in a row, thinking what a good still life it would make, with its sole coming off and bright orange lining fabric! I decided last Friday that if it hadn't been picked up over the weekend by the council's bin men, I would take it to the studio and paint it, so that is what I did! An exercise in expressing form with colour rather than tone. I enjoyed the challenge and will do more similar exercises! Oil on board 25 cm x 25cm.

Monday, 11 April 2011


The rain predicted for the morning arrived late, so I popped down on the river bed near Putney Park. There are 3 tethered floating bird sanctuaries which go aground at low tide. In the background is Putney footbridge and Putney road bridge. I've had a problem with plein air painting, getting the tonal range anywhere near right, but I think this one is not far off. 24 x 30 cm oil on canvas.

In the afternoon the sun went in and the sky clouded over. I've never before started a plein air painting without some sun, I've been paranoid that without it I would have no tonal contrast to paint. I was pleasantly surprised that the lack of tones in the scene was compensated by my ability to judge the colour notes I was mixing (it's much more difficult to see them on a sunny day, even in the shadow). I used a palette knife for the sky and clouds. Another passable first :-) 24 x 30 cm oil on board.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011


Fab day, so over the wall and onto the riverbed at the bottom of my garden. There was a Spring Tide or something quite close, so the water was low and the riverbed wide. As I was about to slap my first tone down, the stonework on the face of the bridge, a white van passed across my field of view. It caught the sun (from behind me) and I immediately realised that the bridge was not white, as it appeared, but a dull cream... at least compared to the van and its reflection. This taught me something most regular plein air painters know so well, they don't even think about, to make the highlights count, leave a tone out of the value scale between the highlight and the next darkest tone. It really makes the highlight  sing! Spent 1 and a half hours on this pic.

I had 30 mins left before the tide came in, so I captured some colour notes on my favourite river structure, the footbridge and tube line (District Line) bridge. I like the composition and colours so will work this up to a larger picture back in the studio, another day. 

Monday, 4 April 2011


If you're a figurative painter, there's a model who's always available when you are, they charge nothing and tend to stand or sit very still... because they are usually concentrating on what they are doing. Just get your clothes off and start painting!