Tuesday, 14 April 2015

"Colour" at the Lime Tree Gallery, Suffolk

Also coming along shortly now is a show at the Lime Tree Gallery in Long Melford, Suffolk, with weel-kent Scottish artists Pam Carter, Joe Hargan and Peter King.

The theme of the exhibition is colour, and vibrant, expressive colour is one of the hallmarks of Scottish art.  This love of colour, along with energetic mark-making and a joy in the texture of oil paint are all characteristics of my work.

For the show, I have made a special collection of ten paintings, each of which celebrates a different colour. 

Over a series of months, I made careful studies and observations in various locations in Suffolk, Scotland and Northern Ireland, taking photographs and making notes. Back in the studio, I used this large library of reference material to create the finished oil paintings.

Each of my pictures at this exhibition has a key colour in their title and as their theme - hence the stormy olive green of the rough North Sea, the sunny yellow of autumn grasses, the uplifting red of poppies.  The colour is observed in nature, but is then heightened and emphasised in order to give an expressive and emotional force to the scene.

Colour, then, is not just purely descriptive, but also captures an emotional feeling of what is was like to be in the landscape, and a very specific sense of place and time.

To give you a flavour of the show, here are some of my collection. 

Olive Green Sea in Summer Storm, Aldeburgh (Oil on linen, 32 x 32)

Orange Carpet of Autumn Leaves (Oil on linen, 16 x 16)

Turquoise Evening Sea, Aldeburgh (Oil on linen, 32 x 32)

Pink Grasses in Sunlight, the Campsies (Oil on linen, 12 x 12)

You can also see a link to all the paintings here.  The show opens on Saturday 25th April, and runs until May 30th.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

'Crackling with Colour' at the Strathearn Gallery

That's the name of the show that I have with Emma Davis and Anne Morrison at the Strathearn Gallery in Crieff.  

It opens on Saturday 25th April, and everyone is very welcome to come along!  There's a great catalogue in the post to everyone who's requested one - otherwise email the gallery and request yours!

Here's a couple of the paintings from the show...

Dark Hill with Orange Grasses, Argyll (Oil on linen, 24 x 26)

Path Through Bluebell Woods (Oil on linen, 24 x 26)

Rosebay Willowherb at Camusdarach (Oil on linen, 32 x 32)

There's a link to the show where you'll shortly be able to see everything online.

Hope you can make it along!

Friday, 3 April 2015

Stormy Weather, Arran in the Distance

It's always interesting to come across blogs on the internet where my paintings have provided a starting point for other people's work, such as the school in Northern Ireland who used one of my Causeway Coast paintings for a class art exercise.

Well, here's another example that I've come across - see what you think.

Here's my painting, Stormy Weather, Arran in the Distance....

..and here it is as a watercolour, where the main colour values have been identified and isolated.  The suggestion of the outline of Arran in the background and the foreshore have been drawn in in pen in order to give context.

It's a great idea for a colour exercise, and is certainly a completely new take on the original painting.

Really interesting work! 

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Bed of Tulips

Here's a seasonal image for a very blustery, sleety, wet spring day!

Bed of Tulips (Oil on linen, 16 x 16)

I have to admit, it'll be a while yet till the tulips poke their noses out of the ground in my garden.  These paintings are of bulbs which I've brought back over the years from Holland. I like to try out a few of the more interesting varieties and see what comes up. The pictures on the packet are always so incredibly exotic.

Strangely, they always seem to turn out mostly red....

Sunday, 29 March 2015

The Great Outdoors - Paintings by Stanley Royle

I went to a great little exhibition at the Graves Gallery in Sheffield last weekend.

The gallery is on the top floor of the library in the centre of Sheffield (quite a few stairs!).  The first two rooms are currently given over to an exhibition of the landscape paintings of local boy Stanley Royle, who painted Sheffield and the rolling hills of the surrounding Peak District.

Stanley Royle, From Yorkshire Hills to Derbyshire Hills (Oil on canvas, 1919) (c) the estate of Stanley Royle

Stanley Royle was one of the most popular Sheffield painters of the 20th century. This major retrospective exhibition is the first in almost 30 years,and showcases Sheffield’s magnificent collection of his paintings, which is the largest in the country.

Royle painted the industrialisation of the city and the rolling landscape on the very edge of that urbanisation in the years after the First World War.  He later emigrated to Canada in 1931 to escape the Depression - Canada of course being famous for its Group of Seven painters (including names such as Tom Thomson), with their ecstatic and very Scottish use of colour.  

Here is Thomson's snowscene, contemporary to the work of Royle

 Tom Thomson April in Algonquin Park 1917

and here is Royle's gorgeous painting of snow at Ringinglow, being hung in the exhibition

Photograph by Scott Merrylees SM1006/17

It really is stunning when you see it.  It has a glow of pinkish late afternoon light in the distance, and is so true.

His paintings are all about capturing the sense of place and the transience of a moment, whether it be a season, the weather, or the transition from the rural to the urban.  

Here's another gorgeous painting of the same spot just on the outskirts of Sheffield to the south at Ringinglow (there's an alpaca farm there now, which is great for a visit and costs a mere £2.50 to walk round).

 Stanley Royle, Mayfield Valley in the Snow

 It really does look like that.  With alpacas.

The large oils are very impressive, and when viewed at a distance, they give a real sense of light and space, of standing on the moors and looking right into the distance, with sharp light coming through the clouds and catching the colours of the moorland.

This is his painting of his wife walking on the moor, in her favourite lilac dress.

Stanely Royle, Morning on the Derbyshire Moors (Oil on canvas, 1920)

It immediately reminded me of this familiar favourite painting from the National Gallery of Ireland, which I travelled all the way to Dublin to see (as well as their Caravaggio).

The gallery had originally credited it to William Leech (!!), but it is now rightly accredited to Royle, and shows his wife walking in Whiteley Woods, Sheffield.

After the Second World War, Royle returned to England and painted in Cornwall, amongst other locations.  Here's his last painting from 1960, and see what a change in the colour scheme - his paintings with figures often have a frieze-like quality, but here the pattern-making is even more explicit, akin to the post-war Festival of Britain design ethic, as exemplified in 1950s textiles and ceramic designs. 

Stanley Royle, Megavissey (Oil on canvas, 1960)

Compared with the truth of his paintings of Sheffield, this feels somewhat peripatetic, and it's very much a reflection of the age in which it was painted, but is also very much a reflection of the painter himself and his life.  Remember, it's his last painting.  The space is totally different - instead of youthfully opening out, full of yearning possibilities as far as the eye can see, it is enclosed and sheltered.  The colours are saturated, the boats fan out to make a pattern in the foreground, the houses are cubes, the scene idealised.  There is a flatness and stasis, a feeling of design and deliberate arrangement, but also a strong sense of order and calm.  It's perfectly content.

It is every summer holiday you could ever want, every happy memory you have ever had - bright, perfect, sunny, as far away from the grime of Sheffield as you could get. And of course, Sheffield is just about as far away from the sea as you can get as well.

The exhibition continues at the Graves Gallery until 30 May, and shows not only Royle's beautiful big oil paintings, but his sketches and notes as well.  

Do go and see it if you can.

Friday, 27 March 2015

How The Archers Sounds to People Who Never Listen to The Archers

Well, I've been listening on the radio in the studio to The Archers for 25 years, and this is still exactly how it sounds to me...


Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Lovely brushes!

Just a quick post to let you know about some lovely new brushes I've been using.  Not only are they fabulous to use - they're dirt cheap as well!

Here they are.  

They're flat watercolour/acrylic brushes, which don't have the usual stiff bristles you'd normally use with oils.  Instead, they're nice and soft, and if you mix the paint with a little liquin or turps, you get beautiful, fluid gestural washes and marks that are beautifully expressive.

So as well as using palette knifes for getting nice big slabs of paint on the canvas, these watercolour brushes are ideal for getting the subtle marks of the composition down.  It means you can have different passages of paint on the canvas - thick and thin, broad and detailed.  

Plus these brushes feel really nice in your hand when you use them.

And yes, that's my palette at the back there!