St Remigius, Hethersett

(Edit Jan 11th – Slipping this one in for the 30 in 30 as I’m getting behind)

We’re in Norfolk in the UK and just down the street from the hotel is this church – St Remigius.  It dates from the 14th century with updates and repairs in the centuries following.    This is a pretty conventional view which was mostly due to there being a bench to sit on.     Suffering for my art was limited to wet feet and general Norfolk dampness.

After doing a quick sketch of just the church and the trees I realized that I was mostly interested in the pattern of gravestones in the foreground.  I expanded the view but with some reservations of making the whole scene too complicated.

Anyway – on with the task.

The first wash.  Not really necessary and it’s so light not much will be visible in the final thing but, as with the drawing, it’s useful to get to know the subject and any troublesome spots.   The gravestones were worrying me at this point but there’s no going back now.

The final thing.   The light touch with the gravestones worked out and just a little color for the flowers.   A final softening of the right tree trunk and a little more sky and I was done.

Pretty happy.  

Kittery Point – Day 3. Portsmouth Harbor Light.

There are 2 lighthouses visible from our back porch.    Actually strictly speaking there are 3 but the third is so far away it doesn’t really count in painting terms.    The prettiest is Portsmouth Harbor Light which is the traditional white with a dinky little red roofed house next door.

So what to say about this one?  I’m pretty happy I think considering I’m painting outside and generally screw up.   The composition leaves a lot to be desired but I’ll give myself a pass on this as I’m happy otherwise.   Good color overall but had a big struggle with the foreground (again) but I think it was dragged back from the brink albeit a bit bedraggled.

Kittery Point – Day 5. Howells House.

Last day before we left and something a little different.    This is the house we were staying in –
Howell’s House.

    This was built in 1870 and was the summer home of William Dean Howells who was the editor of the Atlantic Monthly.  It’s a wonderful place.   
But what of the painting?  As I started drawing it became apparent that this was going to be much more complicated than I’d first thought.   I tried pretty hard to get the proportions right and almost succeeded.  If you didn’t have the house in front of you you wouldn’t notice any difference.
It came out ok considering the complexity.  Weak foreground as usual – I keep meaning to go back and put some darker shadows in to focus back on the house. 

The drawing – feeling good.

Starting in on the house.  Not feeling too bad…

Finishing up (with James coming out to investigate).

Kittery Point – Day 4. Portsmouth Harbor Light take 2

I wasn’t going to let lighthouse views on my back doorstep go to waste so I was out bright and early to have another go at this one.     I happily found a shady spot with a reasonable view down by the tennis court and set up ready to go.     This time I wanted to make the lighthouse more prominent and hopefully cut down on the foreground.     That didn’t quite happen – we still have that dreaded foreground.    This was a strange one – usually if I’m enjoying a painting the end result is good.  I was enjoying this enormously and some parts were coming out well.  The sky behaved and the lighthouse itself I was very pleased with.   It kind of fell apart when it came to the house/sea/foreground which was a bit of a shame.   Never mind – it might grow on me over the next couple of days.  (Edit:  3 days later and no, it hasn’t grown on me.)

Kittery Point – Day 2. Portsmouth Harbor

It’s pretty warm here and I’m discovering that choosing something to paint depends a lot on finding somewhere to sit that isn’t roasting hot but still has something interesting in view.   I know that some people have umbrellas that they attach to their easels/ground/themselves and maybe they’re worth it but it’s yet another thing to lug around.   I’ve also seen people spend more time fiddling with the umbrella than painting and I have enough trouble keeping my easel under control.   But I found a shady spot on a wall where I could sit out of the sun and still have my easel up.    Not the perfect scene but good enough.

Frankly it came out very differently and better than I originally thought.   The first aim was to just paint the boats and leave most of the foliage out.   (Foliage is hard!).   However it turned out that a lot of the foliage crept in and came out pretty well.    Boats came together well – not too much detail, just enough to make sure you know it’s a boat.      As always there are a couple of things annoying me . I put that boat smack bang in the center of the picture which I shouldn’t have.   Also the sea needs a bit more punch – it’s pretty much the same color as the sky and I could have given it more color.

But on the whole – pretty chuffed.

Resting on the porch after a hard afternoon’s work.

Kittery Point Maine – Day 1

We’ve rented a fabulous house for the week in Kittery Maine.   It is right by the sea and has wonderful views of Portsmouth harbor.  I can just step out the back door, set up the easel and paint. It’s wonderful.

Day 1.   This is a view of part of next door’s garden.   I haven’t painted landscapes in a while and summer greens are notoriously hard so this was a leap into the unknown.

To make things harder I started this the day before in the afternoon and finished the next day in the morning.  This meant that all the shadows were reversed which was annoying.   However I struggled on but almost gave up on it as I got towards the end.    Everything was getting muddy and the trees were looking rather stodgy.   Didn’t like it one bit immediately after I’d finished but it’s growing on me.

Charles Reid Workshop 2015 – Day 9

So it was plein air painting today (outside to you and me) and we were down in the center of Gloucester near the maritime museum.  It was a great spot and we all had a great time.    Not least we were near lots of restaurants so we had the opportunity for a leisurely lunch for once.   I took full advantage of this.

Charles chose this view of the old paint factory and ten pound island (did I remember that right?).  In the foreground was a handy rock and miscellaneous dock materials.

We hogged the end of the dock for the rest of the afternoon.   Many people managed two paintings and I filled in some time with sketches.

My effort – not great but painting outside is such great fun I don’t really care.

Charles Reid Workshop 2015 – Day 5

Day 5 was our day to paint outside.   This is always tough and energy was low.   It’s surprisingly draining sitting around painting all day and I was wondering how I was going to keep up the enthusiasm for an extra week.

We all drove out to Rocky Neck  in Gloucester where the 
North Shore Art Association

 headquarters is located.  It’s a fantastic spot and we could easily paint here for a month without running out of subject matter.   There’s a great view across the water of Gloucester town hall and views of boats on the water in 3 directions.   Even the NAA building itself is worthy of a painting.  This was going to be tough!!

But down to business.   Charles chose a view with several foreground boats with the Gloucester skyline in the distance.

Everyone was very fidgety and Charles wasn’t very talkative today.  He started off with a partial drawing.    Boats (like planes) have a tendency to disappear at a moment’s notice so he draws a bit then paints a bit just in case.

Everything was very bold.   Peacock blue was used for the water which made everything pop but somehow still works.

As time went on the foreground was looking a little bare so Charles plucked a photo from his portfolio decided to stick a figure there instead.    This is actually a picture of John Singer Sargent, one of the most famous watercolorists.

Our turn came after lunch.   It was very hot and I was anxious to finish and had the intention of choosing a pretty simple view with not much in it.  

I failed at this – what I thought was simple to start turned out to be a bit of an epic.   This is always a problem when painting outside.  You have no idea of how complex things are around you until you start trying to paint them.  I would have been better off just picking one or two boats.

This was the end result and it’s not one of my best but I was pretty happy under the circumstances.

Marco Island Sketches


Terrible photos but the best I can do right now.   I’m still getting used to this new sketchbook and the sketches didn’t come out so well.  I’m learning though and each one I’m getting more of a handle on things.   The most successful pieces come out of pretty thick paint.  The paper doesn’t really absorb much water and soft, wet-in-wet work doesn’t really happen. 

Oh – and painting palm trees is HARD.