Month: August 2016

Sailing on the Solent

I went sailing on my brothers boat recently and had a great time mucking around the Solent and Portsmouth Harbour.

The light, colours and sights inspired me to capture that feeling of slapping through the waves on a fresh breeze. I tried two versions, one on a typical blustery day with grey scudding clouds and misty horizon. The other on a brighter, clearer day, with more blues and reflected light.

The boat is the same class as my brothers boat but not an identical match, as I didn’t have a photo of his boat to work from. I found photos of locations on the Solent such as the Needles and Ryde, on the Isle of Wight. Mixing many elements from different sources to get the composition I wanted.

It felt good to be painting a subject with a purpose and story, however, the results are a cliche of sailing boat paintings and I’m not totally satisfied with the final outcomes. However, one will be framed and given as a birthday present – but which one?


Tacking Off Ryde


Rounding the Needles


River Mole

I’ve been working on small paintings of the River Mole that flows through the valley here and trying different techniques.

I took some photos of the river on a sunny day and wanted to test out ways of depicting trees and shrubs. I first sketched one of the scenes in my sketchbook, working out composition, tonal range and scale. To be honest there isn’t much to sketch and it’s why I haven’t worked on this subject before. But looking at other artists work I realise that simple subjects can generate charm and calm often lacking in more complex scenes. So its important to know when to stop drawing.


The next step is to work out a painting from the drawing. The important parts are background line of trees, colour of field, shadows where the water disappears and the reflections in the water. I also decided to focus the detail on the bankside, which is a feature of the Mole. The panoramic shape was also chosen, as it allows the eye to travel across the page, providing more breathing space when less sky or water is featured.


River Mole

I took another photo of the river and attempted another painting using a busier style and a different brush. For some reason I was seduced into a square shape by the scene and showing more water. Having used an old oil brush the vegetation has a more complex feel and actually looks a bit like oils. I probably should work on the foreground more as the plants are looking a little too simplistic but I’ve run out of steam for now.

Amendment: I later realised this painting was not about detail but about mood. So I’ve cropped out some of the foreground using a smaller mount and this improves the scene, in my view.


River Mole 2


Barna is a village above Lake Como, with a quiet, timeless atmosphere. We walked to it from Menaggio, climbing the steep gorge and entering an ancient side street. With clear weather the shadows were crisp, the colours rich and the scene engaging. I took several photos and this painting is the first of a few I hope to complete.

Why this scene? Well the light coming through the gap between the buildings and hitting the wall and foliage was wonderful and a challenge to replicate. The textures of the walls and path surface are also strong features and I wasn’t sure how to capture them effectively without them overpowering the picture. I think I’ve done ok.

But is the picture a strong enough scene to generate interest from the more casual viewer. I’m not sure but I think that its more interesting as a painting than a photo. I wanted to create intrigue, ‘what’s around the corner?’ . What is actually around the corner will be another painting.

Barna 1

Barna, Italy

Lake Como

I’ve just returned from a weeks family holiday to Lake Como. We stayed at a beautiful villa looking over the central section of the lake. Apart from a day of rain the weather was perfect and we visited many beautiful places around the lake. We even went to Milan for the day to see Di Vichi’s ‘Last Supper’ and the stunning cathedral.

From a sketching point of view I didn’t find much time to paint but the view from the villa’s terrace had to be drawn….


View from Villa Cesare (well about half of the view)

The other half of the lake view was sketched as a quick postcard, on tricky paper.


We visited a stunning villa on the lakeside called Villa del Balbianello, used as locations for Star Wars and James Bond. While the others went round the house I sat on a terrace and sketched the loggia


The last of my sketches were on the final day, looking at lakeside towns we had visited earlier that day, from the villa terrace. These are pencil and wash and I’m pleased with the way they both look on the page.

I took a lot of photos and plan to make paintings from them, which I will show in this blog when done.