Cambridge

Three weeks ago I went to meet people gathering near Cambridge with whom I identify and whom I had only met through social media before now. The Friday night and then the breakfast on Saturday morning have, I think been transformative. Driving back, the thoughts and memories merged with the light over the road and started to form into this abstract which I have subsequently painted in oils.

This is how it started.

grammar of images

This is an exercise in using oils. I feel a bit more in control, mixing with a knife and using paint on the tip of the brush rather than over loading the bristles.  Where needed I am blending on the canvas.

There was no sketch. The only idea was the hard edge between orange and blue centre stage and a vague sense of yellow and green at the top.

Rotating this 90 degrees and working further imposed a child-like grammar of landscape – blue sky and clouds above, earth colours, mountains, trees, grass, below.

The other way up, blue and white are water and surf crashing onto rock faces.

Rotate back one quarter and I am staring down the cliffs onto a torrent.  It needs the dentate leaves of ferns and, far below, the small shapes of wheeling pterosaurs.

I’ve been following a lot of fabulous palaoeart on twitter recently which is rubbing off on me.  See these as examples, fossil fish and the first pterosaur to be recognised as being furry.  Here are some more. Mark Witton, whose sketch accompanies a piece on the BBC world service, is a fabulous palaeoartist I have followed for some time.

 

mmm…

I hope everyone has had happy holidays. This is how my first attempt in oils is shaping up. These are water miscible, but that just means I can wash brushes without toxicity.  I have switched to using linseed oil as the mixer where needed.  This builds on a charcoal dog-sketch transferred onto a textured canvass, prepared by painting over an old image in white acrylic.  After the first layer of oil I muted the garish colours in white, left it for a few days then scraped back.  I will leave this to harden a few days then work over it again. There is a kind of plan, but I dont wholly know what I am doing. The dog-sketch was from late September and I have some source photos.  However, I am  not setting out to be true to the original scene.  Comments and advice are welcome

 

Tombstone

Somehow these dark grey trunks silhouetted against the winter afternoon sky brought to mind tombstones. The field sketch is below using conte crayon, charcoal and white gouache in tinted paper.  Above, I tried to darken this with washes mixing burnt sienna with ultramarine or paynes grey, the watercolour scattering on the powdery surface.  I have also turned down the exposure on the photo.

Below is the quick preliminary drawing, with the sun behind me. In reality that trunk is tiled with rich brown scales mortared in green. I need to have another try at capturing that.