Monday, March 29, 2010

Dungeness paint out part 2

The next morning I was ready to go at 5.30am. The sun rose, only to disappear rather annoyingly behind a huge cloud bank, where it remained for a few hours. So I took a 4" x 12" board and did a second painting of Prospect Cottage( below).

Some two hours later and a few photos on, coffee and breakfast safely inside, I moved the van along the road to complete my third painting of Derek Jarman' s cottage, this time from the other side and including the wreck of an old fishing boat that I assume Mr Jarman had acquired.

By the time I had finished this painting lunch time was upon me, and against strict dietary orders from Catherine, I nipped into the well known restaurant and bar called  the Britannia. There I enjoyed a plate of chips and a Guinness, after which I took a few shots of interesting things before a rest in the van and to plan my next image. I actually met another artist living at Dungeness called Paddy Hamilton and his partner Helen. A great couple and great art, worth checking him out on Blogger.

So where to now, well the sun had vanished and overcast was now the order of things. I decided to trek out to the actual shoreline and paint a wrecked fishing boat, its glory days well and truly, it has to be said, sadly behind it. FE180 is now just a shell, rotting in the elements, sun and rain doing their equal best to reduce the vessel to a pile of timber. Part of a once proud fleet that extended to many boats that had dominated the skyline, FE180 was set against storm clouds forming over my home. As Hythe could be seen from Dungeness and visa versa,  I watched across the bay as the land slowly melted into sea and sky alike, clouds deepening with every brushstroke. I had to work diligently to maintain an even momentum and lay the paint down accurately and fast. As the sky was changing I was in danger of breaking a cardinal rule in plein air painting, that was chasing. Chasing the changing scene or light, always a wrong thing to do. Another reason was that the storm clouds were gathering at a pace above me.

I think I was down to my last ten minutes of work when the rains came, I was not going to be beaten into retreat, instead painting on until I was ready to call it a day. A little wetter that I had planned I returned to the van, tired , happy and having stowed everything correctly away I drove home to a warm welcome from Catherine. Five paintings completed and a whetted appetite for more.

You can be the judge on these plein air boards. I will in time develop some studio images  from these studies. In the meantime I hope that you enjoy these studies as much as I enjoyed creating them.
Best wishes for now  Paul ...

Dungeness paint out part 1

Well I finally got my van packed with painting panels, paints and easel, not forgetting some food as well and headed out for Dungeness late on Friday morning arriving to a warm breezy afternoon. The landscape is so spectacular and thought provoking, artists have spent years living there and need to go no further for inspiration. It is their muse, and one great name among them is the late Derek Jarman, who sadly died in 1994.
He left a huge legacy in his wake, amongst which is the garden at his home Prospect cottage at Dungeness. This stands as a testament to his life and art and remains for us to enjoy today.

I set up my first panel and painted the cottage which was bathed in warm afternoon light, gentle and serene set within such a hostile environment. Lydd church can be seen in the distance. This panel took nearly two hours to complete, it was all those darn windows!!

After a few photos to record the light and detail and to combine with this study in a  later studio image, I set off again, this time out onto the beach. I found a wonderful old rusting shed, long retired from use and left to its fate among the stones, with a few metal engine relics for company. The elements have exacted a toll over time which creates great potential for artists and photographers alike. It was cold and one and a half hours later, wind buffeting my easel and making it hard to put the paint down where it was needed, I decided enough was enough. I headed back to my van and decided as the light was failing fast to go and park up at friends nearby for the night.

There is a tremendous community spirit among the residents on the peninsula. There are not many of them, but each is a character and ready to help others. So for me friends Chris and Helen, the first an accomplished photographer and Helen and established watercolourist, helped me out, making it possible to park up overnight.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sarre Mill

I have just finished this studio panel of Sarre Mill. Called 'Winter Clouds over Sarre Mill' it is 12" x 16" oil on board.
I painted this after a visit with my friend Matthew Alexander. We had been painting at Broadstairs Harbour for the morning and after that I went and studied the Mill and just knew I had to paint it. I never had the time until recently to draw the composition. Now it is finished I am planning other Mill sites further afield, such as Cley in North Norfolk.
I enjoyed this image as it was deep in colour and rich in the light of the setting sun. I had to inject a little license, but no one will ever know. I do not know the history of Sarre Mill, but it is a restored beauty and a credit to all those who maintain this piece of English heritage so magnificently.  Sarre Mill was built in 1820 and is one of England's few remaining commercially worked mills.

As always leave your thoughts and comments below. I hope you like this painting. It, along with all my other paintings are up for sale and can be found on my website galleries, or just make contact with me to check on the availability of this or any other works offered.
Best wishes Paul

Yesterdays Plein air

I wanted to post this little study yesterday, but unfortunately I got home far too late to take a photo and get on online. So here we are 24 hours later.  I took myself off for a wander around Ashford old market town for inspiration and something worthy of painting.

I do not see myself as a social commentator in paint, though I was getting close to doing that, but finally ended up on platform 2b of Ashford International Railway Station. Grand title for such a small station, yet when I studied the shapes and forms, it drew me in. I found the location somewhat boring to start with, but then it grew upon me and I saw so many things that had escaped my initial glances. An hour or so later and two coffees inside me, resulting in the mandatory visit to the gents, I was finished.

I was somewhat pleased with this little 220 x 160mm study (roughly 6" x 8") Oil on board. The many angles and lines hit the vanishing point at speed. The light was somewhat diffused, I will definitely paint this again and from other angles. Maybe on a rainy day. Now that would give some great lighting effects with interesting reflections.

Anyway, as always you can be my judge, your comments as always are very welcome. I called it  ' The Approaching Train Bound for Charing Cross'. A grand title for such a small painting, not unlike the station itself.

Something a little different

    This is an 11" x 15" ink and wash of one of my favourite locations to paint. The old Oyster house at Faversham Creek, deep in the heart of old Faversham is a delightful place to sit and watch time pass by. The old Thames Barges moored up along this old trading house where the famous Oysters used to be landed are reminiscent of a time gone by.

I usually paint in  oil or acrylic, but had a desire to use ink for a line drawing and added the watercolour later. Your thoughts and comments are welcome and I hope that you like this little painting.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New Show starts tonight

Well the show at Francis Iles in Rochester starts with the invitational private view tomorrow evening, so my fingers are crossed that some of my paintings find new homes. The show opens to the public on Saturday and includes Sunday opening.
The painting below with a working title of 'Awaiting Direction' has been featured as painting of the month by the gallery and apart from appearing in the show, it can be found on their website at

By the way this painting is about to be released as a limited edition fine art print from my publishers Sally Mitchell Fine Art and can be ordered from my website shortly. I am taking advance bookings for this print and I will let you know the release date very soon.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New mixed show

Today was spent delivering work for the spring show at the Francis Iles Gallery in the famous Rochester High Street. The show begins this Saturday, and has a landscape theme.

I have eight new landscape paintings and the latest Labrador painting being hung in the show. Nettie, who owns the gallery, could not resist breaking with the theme of the show and hanging the Lab image. "It was too nice not to have in the show", she said.

So if you are in the area over the next few weeks why not pop in and have a look. The small 4" x 12" Plein  air painting of a Sunset at Camber Sands shown above is just one of the eight on offer and go all the way up to my Saltwood Oak painting at 24"x 36".

Francis Iles Gallery
Nettie Francis-Iles
103 High Street
Kent ME1 1LX
01634 843081

Latest landscape

Last of the Few -Dungeness Fleet

16" x 20" 
Oil on Gesso Panel

This is my latest painting off the easel and came about as a result of a small painting trip to Dungeness with my wife Catherine and stepdaughter Sam a couple of years back. I have fond memories as a child of many cold days and nights trudging across the shingle banks to go fishing with my father and his friends. In those days there were many fishing boats to be seen along the tops of the shingle. The Dungeness fleet was a well known  business between many well known families. The Oilers and Richardsons being two I think I remember, they may still be a part of the Ness today.

When we went there I had forgotten how the wild unspoiled landscape had supported a community seemingly so isolated on this the most South  Easterly point in the U.K.  As the winds raced across the shingle banks, families survived in small huts and homes that had little or no protection from the channel gales, yet this is how it has been for many hundreds of years if not longer. In the shadow of nuclear technologies now abandoned and decommissioned these families carry on their daily business. Sadly, the sea for many is now no longer an option because of new laws and seemingly unfair legislation. Their fishing boats, the sea, and traditional way of life are becoming a distant memory.

Anyway, painting this image has bought all my memories flooding back, so guess what, I am packing the van and spending a couple of days exploring certain aspects of Dungeness, some of the old decaying fishing boats, that lay forgotten on the stones, and last, but not least the well known house that once belonged to Derek Jarman.
The only problem I have is that the weekend is looking bad weather wise, so I shall go tomorrow instead and maybe get a few days during the next week or so.

Anyway, I hope that you like the painting. Watch this space as they say for more paintings relating to the wilds of Dungeness.

Springtime ARH!! Finally...

Spring in a Glass Vase. At least that is what I am calling it. The warmth of the new spring flooded in through the doors yesterday, and although I was about to head out and pick up a framing order, lunch was ready.

I watched the sun dance through the cut glass vase that once belonged to Catherine's mother. It was full of new Daffodil flowers which were a Mothers Day gift for Catherine from one of her children, and were about to open up to a new spring.

My Jullian Palm box was was at hand, so as my meal was finished and whilst Catherine and I chatted, I completed this 40 minute study. Oil on paper 6" x 8".

It is not for sale as Catherine has laid claim to this one, and it will hang above her easel in her studio.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New Plein air

This new plein air panel was created last Saturday. The sun shone at brief moments whilst I chased elusive shadows that crossed the wide pathway ascending towards the church.

Hythe is an ancient town and is one of 5 Cinque Port towns so named during the Napoleonic wars and is steeped in history as with this old path, although now covered with modern materials,  must have been witness to no end of events. It  will have conveyed  the people of Hythe up and down its length for hundreds of years. Indeed,  the old building on the left is testament to Hythe's heritage as it has to be one of the oldest around the town. I need to go and investigate it a little further. I will post my brief findings later.

Back to the painting, I had just received my new JULLIAN palm box, not cheap, but small and beautifully formed you might say. Anyway  I was itching to get out and play? I mean paint with it. Saturday was just the time I needed, so whilst my youngest son played war games with his friends, I set about a little study in Hythe.

I have often found myself at the canal that runs through the heart of the town ( Another Napoleonic legacy). For a long time I have been intrigued with the small streets and walkways in and around the old Church in Hythe. I thought it was about time to study them in paint. This is the first of many I hope to complete in the near future.
"Church Hill, Hythe." 6" x 8" oil on paper.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Saltwood Oak

Those who follow my blog will remember those chilly photographs of me painting during the afternoon in Saltwood. In fact I posted a small 6" x 8" plein air study of this scene. Well I went to the other extreme for this canvas, 24" x 36" was the order of the day. My gallery wanted a large landscape image from me for their upcoming spring show so I decided 24" x 36" and a 11/2 flat brush would do the trick.

I stood in the cold with Catherine as we watched the clouds form in readiness for a second deluge of snow. Those wonderful colours sang out warm tones to me as they gathered pace. The wind swept the snow over the distant hill top forming deep drifts and the vast expanse in front of me was empty of life except for those early footprints from eager children with their sledges. Bands of sunlight moved rapidly towards me creating wonderful shafts of bright light, radiant warm hues against the coldness of the shadows.

With all this in front of me I had to go back and get my paints, which is exactly what I did, but moreover I knew that I had to do this scene justice and paint it on an altogether larger scale. This is the result, I was worried that I have left too much area to the right with little in it. Part of me wants to put some birds into this area of the canvas. That said, the work is about the vast blanket of undisturbed snow that so transforms the landscape. The emptiness, in my opinion is a ying-yang to the huge and mighty Oak tree to the left, So for now at least I am resisting the temptation of complicating the concept further. I might do a few studies to see what effect it might have to add other elements.

Anyway that is my painting called 'Saltwood Oak' I intend to visit this grand tree and paint it through the seasons.Who knows, I just might add some birds to a second canvas depicting the subject by way of contrast to this version.. Whatever I do I hope that you like this image and feel free to add comments about it.
Best wishes Paul

New Dog Print

Some excitement yesterday as the postman arrived and handed me a tube. It contained the proof of the new Labrador fine art print from my publishers Sally Mitchel Fine Art. Opening it up the proof looked spot on. It  has not yet been given a title, though I am sure they will come up with an apt one. However, please forward suggestions  as they will be most welcome, and I will happily forward them to the publishers.

Anyway I just wanted to share that with you. I can't wait for it to hit the market place and join the other print called 'The Waterboy' which I understand is selling extremely well. All great news.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

New Barn Owl study

I had a request for another small Barn Owl image so here it is. I do hope that you like it. For a second time I have used the backdrop of one of my favourite birding areas to visit, that is Oare Marshes along the Swale estuary in East Kent. I have portrayed the backdrop with impressionistic strokes and play of the brush. 
The Owl hunts and patrols its territory so deliberately and silently, through and over the sedges and brambles lining the shallow waterways of the marshes at Oare. It may only be a small study but I hope that it conveys so much more about where this beautiful creature lives, and the delicate balance it plays within the ecology of the habitat.