I wonder whether you’ve ever stood in a field after the sun has set and observed as darkness falls. Starting at the edges of vision the scene softly dissolves into darkness. As the land becomes darker you become more aware of the still illuminated but dimming sky. This is the moment that I tried to capture in this plein air painting. Leith Hill is seen in the distance.
It was a beautiful crisp sunny day and I went to Karadjordje’s park again looking for a good subject to paint. I found it quite hard to settle on something and spent some time wandering around. I always find that it is better to just choose something instead of continuing to search for the perfect spot to paint. I was attracted by the light on the snow in this scene. I found this a difficult subject to paint at first, but then started losing myself in the abstract qualities of colour and shape and started to enjoy it. This was a good reminder for me that painting should be fun, experimental and playful. As artists we can arm ourselves with knowledge about techniques and theory and we can study other artists’ work that we admire. But for me the most satisfying painting experience is one which has been approached with a naive openness and is in response to the present moment.
I painted from the park opposite the Serbian Parliament building in order to have a snow covered foreground. I haven’t painted a great deal of buildings but it seems to me part of the challenge lies in suggesting complexity without painting every detail. I always find it interesting how willing the eye is to fill in undescribed detail. Mystery, ambiguity and suggestion in painting give the viewer’s eye and brain some work to do and this can be quite pleasurable.
Belgrade had warmed up slightly by the time I painted this plein air oil painting in the local park. Some of the snow had started to melt leaving the path wet. It was the reflections in the tarmac that caught my eye along with the reddish brown leaves of the smaller trees. The scene in front of me had fairly subdued colour so I tackled it by first painting monochromatically, before adding hints of colour to enliven it. It is amazing how many colours in nature are variations of grey with very little saturated colour- especially in a winter scene like this.
I tackled the imposing edifice of Saint Sava’s Temple in the snow with only my trusty palette knife in hand. It was around -10C and it made me realise that for those temperatures I really need two pairs of gloves. One thin pair with fingers and my thicker fingerless gloves on top. As it was I had to keep pausing to warm up my fingers. Interestingly most of the oil colours weren’t greatly affected by the cold, but for some reason only the yellow ochre became almost too stiff to use. I am not sure why. It was fun to try to capture some of the atmosphere of the day. Hopefully some of the wintry feeling I had when painting it comes across in the finished painting.
It is quite an unusual event for the Danube river to freeze over, so I was fortunate to be in Belgrade at this time to paint the scene. I chose to depict it as the sun set in the evening and was interested in the interplay between the warm colours of the evening light and sky and the cool colours of the ice in shadow. It was quite a spectacular sight to see that amount of ice on the river. It looked like the surface of an alien planet. Further downstream one of the wooden floating houses had been swept up by the ice and had ended up stranded in the middle of the frozen river.
Painting still lifes is enjoyable in a different way to painting plein air landscapes. I find it a calmer more meditative experience. Am hoping to get out and experience some of the relative excitement of plein air painting again soon though.
I am pleased to announce that I will be rejoining Windsor Contemporary Art Fair again this year to exhibit my plein air oil paintings. This fantastic event takes place on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th November at Royal Windsor Racecourse (private view Friday 11th November 6-9pm). Over 150 artists and galleries will be exhibiting their work. I will be on stand 90 exhibiting some of my latest plein air oil paintings and look forward to meeting some new collectors and seeing some familiar faces. Windsor Contemporary Art Fair is a great chance to view and buy original artwork directly from the artist. If you are interested in coming to the Private View please contact me at email@example.com for an invite and half price tickets for the weekend. Hope to see you there!
When: Friday 11 November (Private View) 6pm – 9pm
Saturday 12 November 10am – 6pm
Sunday 13 November 10am – 5pm
Where: Royal Windsor Racecourse SL4 5JJ
Dramatic cloudscapes and later an absolutely beautiful sunset were my reward for climbing up Holmbury Hill the day before my daughter was born. The constantly changing scene and light conditions in the couple of hours I was there could have provided subject matter for an infinite number of different paintings. I settled on this view towards Leith Hill and beyond. I was interested in using the arrangement of my clouds to aid in creating an interesting composition. I want my paintings to say something about the place they were painted. I also want them to be visually interesting in an abstract way and to show themselves to be made of paint. Each painting can’t help but hold personal resonances for me too. This painting will always remind me of the day before I met my first baby.
Painted from one of my favourite viewpoints in Redlands Wood. I enjoy paintings which look ‘painty’ up close and resolve into something more realistic when viewed from across the room. I try to achieve some of this effect in my plein air paintings. I find it interesting how the eye and brain can sometimes fill in detail which isn’t actually there. This 13″ x 10″ plein air oil painting is available to buy. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.