Thursday, 26 January 2017

January Plein Air

The temperature gauge in my car read 0 degrees but I was unprepared for the intense cold which makes ears, nose and hands ache. Ears and nose can to a certain extent be protected, but it is a difficult thing to draw and paint while wearing gloves - even mittens are tricky.

I was standing near Broadway Tower, a local landmark and Folly, built on an ancient beacon site with spectacular views all round, which means precious little shelter from wind, rain or as today, intense cold. There is also, which I didn't know, a nuclear bunker on site. A different kind of folly perhaps.

The trees are bare, stark against the large expanse of sky. The land drops away sharply behind the Tower from this position. No comforting distant horizon line where sky and land meet. No hills or woods to act as a backdrop against the old stone walls. Today the smaller branches and their little twigs are hung with frost giving the appearance of early blossom.

I chose the view as I enjoyed the little building in front of the tower and it was best seen from the side of the road opposite a handy lay-by, which meant I could draw looking over the low wall until my hands were ready to drop off, and then get back into the car and turn the heater on until it was warm enough to hold a paintbrush and apply some washes in relative comfort.

There are numerous other view points here and I am looking forward to making return visits as I know from experience that when painting plein air, no two days are ever the same.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Happy New Year

                                                                Little Brown Tea pot

At this time of the year it is traditional to take stock of the year just gone and make plans for the year ahead, catch up on all those things which have been pushed to one side to do 'later' and, in my case, try and stock up on art materials.

Although it has been cold recently, it has not been soooo cold as to make it impossible to paint outdoors, even with watercolour. There is a certain beauty in the winter landscape and the recent frosts have turned the fields and hedgerows into a land of crystal enchantment as if from a fairy tale.

However, if you live in part of the world where winter really means FROZEN, then perhaps January should be dedicated to the art of Still Life. Even traditional subject matter can be inspiring if you are willing to experiment with composition, change the size or format of your usual paper or canvas, and play with colours not usually to be found on your palette. It's all about being creative. We are always learning, and this seems to be the ideal time of year to play with our materials and see where it leads us.

Some of my New Year resolutions;

- Travel further afield for plein air painting and sketching.
- Push boundaries more - don't just stick with what I know I can do.
-Make better use of my sketchbooks.

Oh, and
- Try to update this blog on a more regular basis than of late. Who knows? I might even make it through to February !