Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wreck No.5

oil on canvas 91x91cm

Let me introduce this by writing what someone else thought about the painting at first sight.

A little while ago, when this was almost finished, an old pal came round to the house. As soon as he entered the room he started looking at the painting. I started explaining about the Wreck series, but he motioned me to silence and said that he would tell me his own reading of it.

He started by saying that it was a beautiful landscape, possibly Northern France or Germany, very pastoral. He spoke about the clouds, and then said that the tank looked like a beast. He liked the way the grass on the right blew into the crop field, and led you back to the wood. He stood and looked at it a bit more, then asked if he had got it right.

Well, he had. He’d ticked all the key elements. ‘Beautiful landscape’, ‘Pastoral’, ‘Beast’. He even got the French location right. As you can imagine, I was well pleased.

This painting seems to have taken ages to do. I think I started it in May, but then I had to stop for a week for a big priming session. Wreck No6 has been on the go at the same time, and Madam has had the few days off in the house. If you take that time away, then I suppose it’s been reasonably efficient, but everything still seems to take such a long time. There’s no specific music mood primer for this, but I did enjoy being reacquainted with Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ - that guitar solo from ‘Time’ still fair blows the cobwebs away.

Anyway, I’m glad that Bill understood that the piece wasn’t just militaria (i.e. a portrait of a tank in a field) but more like a slain dragon in a landscape, and when I explained the ‘Et in Arcadia Ego’ tradition - the evidence of Death in a pastoral Idyll - it seemed to make sense to him.

As I hope it does to you…

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bright Stratocumulus

pencil and crayon 21x21cm

I had a little brainwave when cloud sketching last week – don’t use watercolour.

I’ve had various crayons hanging about for ages and never really used them, but on this particular sunny afternoon last week it all fell into place. The drawing is on very some thin copy paper that I had handy, and luckily I didn’t have to be too robust.

I’m quite pleased with it – it has quite an energetic dash and gets the general brightness across. It’s not just all effect either, and I’m sure that there’s enough re-creatable information here to use as reference for other work.

In case you’re wondering, the number 156 is the sketch sheet number. All my A4 out-the-window sketches are numbered and kept in order.

This is the first time that I’ve ever referred to a page number, and now that I think about it, I’m not actually sure why I started.

It does sound like I’m very organised and know what I’m doing though…

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tiny Evening Sky

watercolour 5.5x8.5cm

This tiny piece is the view out of the sitting room from where I sit on the sofa. It’s just past 10pm, and I know that because I painted it while listening to the News on TV on Monday night.

The latitude here in Edinburgh is about 55 degrees - the same as Moscow and the lower edge of Hudson’s Bay (though without the climatic inconveniencies). In this little sketch you’re looking northwards, and the sun has been below the horizon for about half an hour. In mid-winter, this would look very different as it is dark by 4.30pm.

At this time of year, nearly a month after Midsummer, the sun rises at 4.45am. For some reason, I very rarely see it…