Friday, 28 October 2011


Reflections are not my only interest, I'm really beginning to enjoy the subtleties of shadows too. I'm currently reading Carlson's seminal book on landscape painting. I picked it up for less than £10 on amazon. It's a great read, it mentions one of Corot's recommendations, "start painting a landscape from 50 foot away", in other words, don't paint the foreground! I'm not sure I agree with this. He thought too much foreground detail 'draws attention' away from 'the distance', which in a landscape may be the most important bit. However, I think if it's left quite loose, it can work well.

I often bemoan my brushwork. In the picture below I took it slowly, mixing and placing quite deliberately. I've started using synthetic sable style brushes as well as Hog flats which gives a bit more variety. 

During a Scottish sailing trip earlier in the year I took quite a few photos with a view to working them up into paintings later in the year. The element of the view below that attracted me was the sunlight catching the tree tops on the loch side. Though it's quite convincing in this photo, it doesn't work so well on the actual painting. I may give this another go, another time.

I was fascinated by the sharp contrast between the red building facade and the wet shadowy foreground. It almost works, but I think I should have tried to keep the foreground looser. Perhaps Corot was right after all!! 


  1. Ian, these are really great. The shadows painting is superb and I love the way you've played with the patterns in the foreground. You've also done an excellent job at retaining plenty of colour in the shadows but in a measured and balanced manner. Was it a plein air piece? If not, you've done a remarkable job at translating/interpreting a photo since photos often make a bad job of recording the true colours and values in shadows. Funnily enough, I've just been re-reading John F Carlson's book and it really is jam packed with useful. It's one of my favourite art books! Edgar Payne's book is similar and I'd highly recommend it but is more pricey (

  2. Thanks David for your enthusiastic comments. All pics done in the studio. The great thing about doing plein air is that I find I am building up some awareness of what's happening in the shadows even though I usually can't see shadows in a photo. Thanks also for the Edgar Payne tip. Will add it to my list.