Sunday, September 29, 2013

A wonderful time

It's late and I'm tired, but I'm home now after a wonderful three days in Staithes and Whitby. It was like stepping back in time as my phone was rendered useless with no signal anywhere in the village and therefore no Internet and no links with the outside world... a valuable break from it all I'm sure!
As you can see by the blue sky on this shot we had two days of glorious sunshine but of course you can't see the wind! I spent two hours on this one (it wasn't quite finished in this photo) and never dared let go of my easel once with my left hand the whole time, pushing towards the wind and trying to keep a steady right hand against the odds! The relatively large 16" x 20" board probably wasn't wise under the circumstances :-)

I look forward to getting a chance to unwrap the paintings from the trip, hopefully tomorrow as I've got a fun day in London planned for Tuesday, hanging an exhibition on Thursday and a workshop in oil painting on Friday.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


I've come away for a few days painting, to the north east of Yorkshire. I arrived in Whitby early evening after travelling on three trains to get here, and I have already set to work. I feel very rusty as it's been a couple of weeks since I last painted plein air, and that's no good at all! I have been teaching a lot, including a great watercolour workshop this week. Also lots of planning and bookings going on right now for next year. The diary is looking really full for 2014.
Tomorrow I'm going to be painting in Staithes all day. I've been looking forward to this trip for a long time.
I may not be able to post pics until next week though.
I feel quite at home in this part of the world, as I spent half my childhood living in North Yorkshire and my art studies began in York.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

French coffee and roses

French coffee and roses

Just before I left France at the end of August I was working on a magazine article about painting vibrant still lifes. As the weather was so lovely I painted this in the garden, using flowers from the garden. I built up the colour in a series of glazes firstly with acrylics, and then moving on to oils for the finishing touches and more opaque areas.

The picture below shows the progression of stages - the first three are in acrylics, and then the last three I was using oils. I tried really hard to stop before I'd crossed all the t's and dotted all the i's, so that viewers of the painting will be able to put their imaginations to work a little.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Red red sail

Red sail in Paimpol harbour

At the risk of boring you I'm sorry but I'm not done with this subject yet. This is a small oil painting on Arches huile paper distilling the subject down to it's basic elements. It's based on a sketching trip one afternoon in August to Paimpol harbour which I did tell you about at the time. I was waiting to meet my friend Lori Putnam off the train and couldn't believe my luck to see a few boats with their sails up in the harbour.

Here's my first drawing of the day, I was struggling to make sense of the lighting conditions and I think you can see my confusion in the sketch...

As I was finishing this one the red sail went up! I was SO excited, but I got to work quickly because I didn't think it would stick around....

But it was still there, and I thought I could do a better job so...

Yes! I was happy with that one. By this time the front of the buildings were in darker shadow which was making my life MUCH easier, and I veered towards green-blue in the shadow colour to help that red to sing out :-)

But as I was leaving I saw a better view, with the red sail on the right of the white sails so I had to sit right in the middle of the pavement there... it was awkward but it had to be done and the people who stepped over and around me seemed to enjoy the spectacle too...

Now please don't be getting sick of the red sail just yet because I'm working on a BIG one now in the studio, and I'm just hoping I can keep the same vitality.

I find if I'm working 'en studio air' it's best to tackle up to half a dozen at the same time and flit between them. This helps ward off the possibility of an unhealthy fixation forming with a rising pressure level, tense shoulders and a disposition towards tightening up. I also chant 'Just because it's big, doesn't mean it's got to be special...' (repeat to fade)

Sailing dinghy at Paimpol

Sailing dinghy at Paimpol

Another small work (oils on paper), from sketches made this summer at the harbour in Paimpol. Paimpol is the nearest town to the island of Bréhat on the mainland. It's a very pretty town with a fabulous weekly market and cafes, art galleries and the harbour. My daughter went to school here when we lived on the island in 2011, and her 'college' was a big stone building overlooking the harbour.
The white sails are the white of the paper which I've reserved as you usually would with watercolours. I've simplified the busy harbour and boats in the background to one fairly dark shape with a few coloured spots and light patches. I'm all about the simplification, you've probably noticed by now!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

More hay bales!

Hay bales in Lincolnshire
Oils on Arches huile paper
No I'm not showing you the same painting again, I was actually revisiting the motif. This is a small and simplified version of the plein air painting that I showed you a couple of days ago.
Usually my studio paintings are L-A-R-G-E-R versions of my plein air paintings. This is the other way round. Hey-ho!
I like the way it's turned out. I like the brevity of it. I also like working on the white paper. I like to ring the changes :-)

Friday, September 13, 2013

St Clements studio

St Clements studio
Oils on Arches huile paper

I've been breaking myself in to working in the studio again after my long absence in France with some small and quick paintings while preparing for my next big studio paintings. I'm particularly pleased with this one! I think it's a classic example of a painting which says everything it needs to say and no more, which is the message I'm always trying to preach. 

In fact yesterday fifteen brave souls attended my 'Painting faster with oils or acrylics' workshop and tried to do just that - making essential decisions and simplifying the subject down to it's important elements. They tackled all my mad projects with gusto and did the most fantastic job! Seventy-five paintings were produced throughout the day and here's just some of them... the results speak for themselves!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Last days of summer

Hay bales in Sudbrook
Oils on canvas panel 30 x 40 cms
Last week I got out to a local field to paint this, it was a really hot day! I didn't have much time which is often a good thing, as it forces you to make important decisions and crack on with it. I'm very pleased with how it turned out which is also funny because I didn't have any great expectations when I started on it. I fancied another try of the subject but the next day it was raining and the day after the bales were gone. Just a few days later it seems that the heat of summer is finished and there's a cool dampness in the air in the early mornings and evenings.

Here's a photo taken of the painting in situ

Monday, September 9, 2013

September portraits





As promised, here are some of my September watercolour portraits so far. All of these were painted from life, which makes them very much not just a representation of somebody's face but a marking of a passage of time on a certain day in that person's life that I was a part of. This makes the exercise very special I think. Each one takes between twenty and forty-five minutes. A conversation takes place. Some people move more than others. Sometimes the lighting is good and sometimes it's harder for me to see.
Anybody in my local area want to volunteer to pop round and be my daily portrait? :-)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Back to fish and chips!

Painting at Sutton-on-sea
Back to England and back to work, back to Sutton-on-sea and fish and chips, and back to health after a horrendous two day migraine!
So sorry for being absent from blog land, but in between travelling back from France and unpacking and being poorly what else have I been up to? Well I've had the trusty oil paints out both in a field and as you can see here on the beach. Today was a glorious day at Sutton-on-sea, weather like this in September can only be considered a gift after the wondrous long summer we've had. My goddaughter ran around in a swimsuit all day it was so warm.
I've also started a little September project because I do like a challenge don't I? My aim is to paint a watercolour portrait from life each day in September. I had to miss one day when I was really ill in bed but apart from that I'm managing to keep it up so far. It's difficult and taxing but also really fascinating to be painting in a different medium and subject, and all added to the discipline of doing it every day! I am posting each one daily on twitter so follow me there if you use twitter, I'm @HaideeJoSummers
I seem to have kicked off quite a large project with #PaintSeptember as lots and lots of fabulous people are on board showing their paintings, some daily and some whenever they get a chance. Feel free to join us!
I will get around to posting the portraits here on my blog, probably a few at a time, so don't worry you won't miss anything :-)
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