Thursday, 30 April 2015

Light Out to Sea

Light Out to Sea from Sewerby Cliffs
Working with a very limited palette is a very useful teaching aid as you have to concentrate on getting the tones right to create the illusion of space and depth in your painting. This was one of the techniques I demonstrated recently at a workshop at Driffield Art Club. I have been several times and always enjoy it. They are a great bunch and very competent painters too so I have to be on my mettle. I used two colours for the demonstration – French ultramarine and brown madder – and completed it in about twenty minutes. That’s the joy of watercolour as it does most of the work for you. I masked the sea line and then worked wet in wet down to the foreground using different mixes of the same colours. When it was dry all I had to do was remove the mask and quickly work in the foreground and a nice little painting appeared – the magic of watercolour!

Monday, 27 April 2015

When I was Younger.....

"Lakeside View"
No we are not talking Estate Agent speak – this really is a lakeside view. The lake in question is actually a reservoir situated in the Yorkshire Dales and is called Grimwith. Do not let this rather forbidding name put you off. It is well worth a visit. This is another of my recently discovered paintings and formed part of a series of views around the perimeter of the lake. Back when I painted this I could easily manage a stroll round but although it is relatively easy it might be more difficult for me now. Never mind – thanks to this recent discovery I now have another aide-memoire for this lovely location. Wouldn't it be nice to stumble across some of the others? This is a simple though evocative scene and I painted it using my ‘rainbow’ technique. This was the name given by Merice to the paintings where I applied washes of yellow, red and blue (in that order) to create these lovely blends of colour. Now composition has never my strongest point, especially back when I painted this, so it must be based on one of Merice’s reference photos. It has always been a blessing for me to have such a talented artist in her own right as my wife. She has never charged me copyright fees either……..yet! We are planning to revisit Grimwith even though we are a lot further away now but I hope I will have many more happy memories soon ready to commit to paintings.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Solitude, Sunset and Survival.........

"Sunset on Rosedale Head"

OK - you have had plenty of practice at painting in your nice warm house where no one can see you but finally it's time to become a 'proper' artist and actually paint outdoors or 'plein air' as your "Watercolours in Easy Lessons" calls it. That was the situation I found myself in a good few years ago. The only problem is that I knew I wasn't very good at that stage so was a bit embarrassed about setting up to paint in front of other people. But a simple solution presented itself - find a location where nobody else would be. So what better than a remote part of the North Yorks Moors National Park. A quick tour lead me to a sign that read 'Dale Head Only'.....perfect. The road soon petered out to a grassy unused track and my confidence began to grow as my old 4 x 4 laboured on. Finally the perfect spot - miles away from anywhere and no one in sight at all. So I set up and eagerly set to work. I did my drawing and added a few washes but it gradually began to dawn on me that working outdoors was a lot different than working in a studio. Bits of grass and other debris kept landing on the paper which dried too quickly anyway with the inevitable result that instead of the envisaged masterpiece I had produced a complete mess. It was at this stage that a crowd of happy walkers appeared as if from nowhere. I say a crowd and I mean a crowd - must have been the annual day out for a walking club. Naturally they were curious and asked if they could have a look. Soon I was surrounded by a group of hikers pressing in all around me and my exposed easel. Fortunately - and I mean no disrespect to anyone - they were all English. Of course I knew it was rubbish and so did they but being English they were invariably polite and uttered phrases like "Looking good", "Coming along nicely" and the classic"I'd love to see it when it's finished". Thankfully the excruciating encounter finished and off they trundled leaving a very chastened painter behind. I could have been put off but it's part of the learning experience of course. The next time I went 'plein air' I was a lot more prepared. Gradually I built up more experience and more confidence and once you get to that stage painting on site outdoors is a marvellous experience that I still enjoy to this day. From my early experiences however I have developed a theory. If for any reason whatsoever you find yourself totally lost and cut off in a wilderness don't panic. Forget the fancy (and expensive!) survival kits - just get out your paints and paper and within minutes you are guaranteed to be surrounded by a whole bunch of would be rescuers! So please do not be put off - get out and paint - you will not regret it. 
'Sunset on Rosedale Head' was not painted outdoors and is an example of multi coloured layers to create the illusion of space and depth in the painting.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

'Heading Home' by Glenn Marshall

"Heading Home"

I painted this several years ago and to be frank I haven’t a clue what happened to the original so let’s hope it sold for a good price. You can imagine then how pleased I am to find this image to show you.  Regular readers will know just how much I admire the old Victorian watercolour painters and this scene would definitely have interested them as much as it interested me. In fact it could well be based on an old painting but I can’t remember which one for the life of me so any ideas would be most welcome. There is no doubt though that it is a typical Victorian composition and I have even included a ‘Grimshaw’ lady though for once she is walking in daylight and can see where she is going especially as she has that rickety old bridge to cross on her way home. It might be a traditional scene but I have used a few modern techniques to do it. There’s a bit of masking fluid, some flicking and scratching, and a bit of 'rainbow' painting out though the outcome has that old fashioned look I love.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

At last after a fifteen year wait, I finally got to meet face to face with the man who changed my life.  At the time he didn't even know it. So who is he and how did he change my life? He is, of course, Ashley Jackson the world famous Yorkshire watercolour artist. How then did he affect my life so much? In 1999 I had an accident badly injuring both knees. As a very active man who was still keen on sports this was a devastating blow. There was no way I could return to my former employment and I felt like my whole life had ended. Back then our only entertainment was the ‘telly’ and I spent hours idly watching while waiting for operations etc. One afternoon I came across a programme entitled ‘Painting with Ashley’. The painter was Ashley Jackson and the premise of the show was straightforward as Ashley would coax a different celebrity each week into producing a watercolour painting. He was so enthusiastic and inspiring that I got hooked. He made it seem so easy as if anyone could have a go. Merice picked up on my interest and one day returned from York bearing gifts. She had bought Ashley’s book “A Love Affair with the Yorkshire Moors”, a watercolour pad, some paints and a brush set. Now Ashley is a passionate Yorkshireman and so am I and when I watched him paint on the TV he only used four colours so that was all Merice needed to buy. The famous quartet was French ultramarine, burnt sienna, lemon yellow and Prussian blue. I spent many days looking at his book and trying to work out how he did it. Once I got a bit of mobility back we spent many hours in the Yorkshire Moors looking and sketching. I say ‘looking’ because I had now been introduced to a whole new way of viewing the world – really seeing it for the first time and admiring the incredible beauty all around us. However translating that view onto paper was a different matter. It certainly wasn’t as easy as Ashley made it look! Over the next couple of years I looked at different techniques and gradually developed my own palette and way of painting. However I never forgot my debt of gratitude for the inspirational example set by the great Yorkshire artist. I have visited his gallery in Holmfirth a few times but always just seemed to miss him though we eventually did meet up on Facebook. Imagine my delight then when I found out he was coming to Bridlington and I would be able to meet him at last as well as enjoy a three hour show of anecdotes, experiences, tips and a live demonstration. Happily both he and his wife recognised me from Facebook. They could not have been more charming and at long last I was able to thank him personally for giving me hope and purpose all those years ago. The show was fascinating. As well as many amusing anecdotes from a fascinating life, Ashley was also able to articulate what most of us feel about art today – he could never be accused of being politically correct! He talked more sense about art in three hours than I have heard during the last ten years. So once again I am indebted to this charming, enthusiastic, articulate and inspiring man for reigniting that passion that is so necessary for good art. As he explained –‘Anyone can paint a picture but only an artist can paint a painting. A picture becomes a painting when it becomes imbued with the passion and soul of the artist and his subject.’ So yes it is fine to be passionate about your art because it will show in the work and move the viewer. So once again may I say a big and grateful thank you to Ashley Jackson for inspiring me and so many others. So here's 'Full Circle' which I painted last year and is very much inspired by the work of this great artist.
'Full Circle' by Glenn Marshall

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A Different Point of View.....

"Down the Tracks"
Strensall Common furnished yet another painting for me here. This is a departure from the usual scene I paint in this magical landscape. We were crossing the track that bisects the Common. It is one of those unmanned crossings with a little gate for pedestrians to cross. It bears the quaint advice to ‘Look both ways before attempting crossing”. Although I wouldn't advise doing a painting this near to the tracks, we had ample time for Merice to take a photograph. When I decided to paint the scene from memory using her photo for reference I made a slight change. The track actually runs in a dead straight line off towards Scarborough but I made it curve as it makes a better composition while still leading the viewer into the scene. After a bit of careful masking I was able to paint quickly and loosely. After a bit of tidying up I was well pleased with my efforts. Now for me this was a ‘happy’ painting – a memory of a happy day strolling about in one of my favourite places – but different people have different memories. It was hanging on the wall in my old Studio/Gallery in Old Town, Bridlington. A young couple came to look round and the lady shivered when she stood before the painting. I was intrigued and asked why she had reacted so. The couple had just come back from a visit to relatives in Poland. During their stay they visited the Holocaust Centre in Auschwitz. The unimaginable horrors there had impacted on her family and these things were still on her mind. She said the painting reminded her of the railway line leading into the camp and that was why she shuddered. So there you are – the same thing can produce a vastly different experience for someone else. I have to be honest and tell you that since that encounter I look at this painting in a different light. But there are some things that should never be allowed to be forgotten.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Conifers at Codbeck

Codbeck is a super little reservoir near Osmotherley on the western fringes of the North Yorks Moors National Park. It’s a little gem with picnic places and a lovely stroll around the perimeter of the lake. I have painted it several times but usually include the lake. For this painting though I was more interested in the view from the lake side up towards the conifer forest. The red veins in the single tree caught my eye. I painted little dabs of red round the tree trunk along with a stripe for the middle distance rosebay willow herbs. I painted the whole single tree red and then applied masking fluid to preserve the colours safely. After the painting was complete and masking fluid lifted I was left with reds and yellows painted first. It was an interesting experiment that worked well.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

"Sunset on Sledmere Road"

I am pleased to report that this painting is now adorning the wall of a friend and art collector from the USA. It makes a lovely background for my updated blogspot website so gives me another excuse to post it.

Strensall or Serengeti with Sheep!

"Return to Strensall Common" 
Strensall Common lies just outside York and is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Strictly speaking the common is quite small but add the adjacent army training area and it becomes a large expanse of extraordinary and diverse habitats. The colours and wide stretch of heathland moor always bring the Serengeti National Park in Africa to my mind and I almost expect to see zebras being chased by a pride of lions rather than the peaceful grazing sheep. I have painted it many times and always enjoyed the experience whether outdoors or back in the warmth of my studio. This painting is a revisit to one of my early watercolours. The original was 30" x 22" and took a long time to do. The main attraction was the lovely yellow gorse flowers signalling a sure sign of Spring. However I had decided to use the painting as the basis for a workshop demonstration so had to work quickly for this one. To be honest I like this better than the original as I was able to tidy up a few details and add a bit more dramatic contrast with the dark shadows. Here's the original:
"Springtime on Strensall Common"
There is a lot more detail in this one but you will have to make your own mind up as to which you prefer.