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Queen's Parade, Brandon Hill, Bristol: pastel 12x12 inches

, 11:39

A subject like this is quite a step away from my usual stuff but it made a change and allowed me to get a break from intense, close-up work. Having said that, it took me a while to do all the windows....

This pastel is on Sennelier card, a warm sienna colour. It tends to be quite toothy and in some ways wasn't quite so ideal for some of the detailed parts, but it worked nicely in the grass and tree areas. The terrace of buildings, in reality, has been painted in various colours (thankfully none of them too brash) and add an extra dimension to a scene which would ordinarily be just a little drab during an English winter.

I used hard pastels to start the work with and also had to make a few starter attempts on the angle and positioning of the buildings---they start to slope downhill at one point. This layout I did at home, would have been tricky outdoors. The evening glow was built up with a layer of pastel pencils to start with, then soft pastel added on top. I resorted to hard conte sticks and pencils to get the windows and doors marked out. The park grass and trees were kept a little looser in working.

Snow on Ben Lawers : oil 7x5 inches.

, 12:04

Back to painting; this small oil on Ampersand "Gessobord" is a little scene that I have had in mind to do for a long time, but never managed to decide the best format until now. I was fortunate to photograph Ben Lawers in Perthshire, Scotland, at a time when it had a covering of snow, accompanied by a long, low and rather striking cloudbank. The top of it is seen here across two steep-sloping ranges of dried grasses that were in deep shadow. The moon was also in view but I decided not to include it on such a small painting, focusing instead on the snowy slopes.

Colours used; alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow, cadmium red, cadmium orange, french ultramarine, titanium white.

Winter Wall: oil on paper 12x9 inches

, 10:58

Have been waiting for this one to dry before handling for photograph. The original source reference was actually an autumn view with rather dull greeny-brown hills and mud, so I decided to winter-ise it. The stone wall slopes away to the right down a very steep hill and in fact my later photos in that area provide a few interesting possibilities for a larger painting. There is also a pastel of this same scene in progress; I haven't worked on it for a couple of weeks because I now have flu and am pretty much incapable of major focus for any serious painting.....so it will have to wait.

Winter Wall is on Arches oil paper, specially produced for handling the characteristics and properties of oil paint; it does not allow bleed-through to the back, permits thin washes and the application of impasto paint, and provides a smooth surface rather than the toothiness of board or canvas. It can be framed with a mountboard, or affixed to a suitable acid-free panel and framed directly without glass. The paint can be varnished, just as if it were on canvas.

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/652277

Cloudscape, North Wales: oil 7x5 inches

, 11:54

I'm working on one or two more demanding pastels at the moment, so have backed off further small ones and returned to oils for a while. This one is a small 7x5 inch picture on gessoed MDF panel, with rainstorm clouds and green shadowed landscape.

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/647225

Somerset Rhyne: pastel 10x11 inches approx.

, 21:04

(not for sale)

I'm using some new pastel techniques, to try and improve the way I start a picture and get colours laid down as a foundation to build on. For some years I've started with a standard pastel-paper or card, in the usual manufactured colours; but now I'm playing around with re-coating and re-colouring old failed works. The picture above was made on a sheet of pastel card that had once borne a fairly dull and ordinary green landscape. I scrubbed off a lot of the pastel with a 3-inch decorator's brush, then washed turps over it to fix the resultant green-grey colour. Once it was dry I brushed a coat of clear Winsor & Newton acrylic gesso over it.

The landscape was marked in with a square-ended hard conte stick. After this, areas were filled in loosely with lots of hatched lines, using other coloured conte sticks and the edges of medium-hard Rembrandt pastels. From here I set about developing the trees and grasses, with more lines and hatches. The willow-trees in my locality exhibit many tangled branches and twigs, so line-work was very appropriate for them. This was autumn/winter, so the trees were bare but often display reddish-browns and mauves on their branches, when seen in weak sunlight.

The steep green bank was the hardest object to create. These moorland rhynes ("reens") are often in deep cuttings, edged with reeds, trees and sloping fences. This bank had been shorn of all its reeds and was sporting a haphazard collection of dry grass, mud and green tufts...none of it particularly thrilling to paint, so I decided to just keep it simple.

Softer pastels were not brought in until the second session of work. I deliberately avoided them until I was happy with all the line-work and hatching. Softer colours were used for the yellow grasses, the distant tree clump, and to add rusty-reds to twig-tips. The sky was kept simple and a light-source created to hint at a hidden sun. Finally, two swans added at the river-bend, using the edge of a hard grey-white Rembrandt pastel.

Heavenly Dahlias: pastel, 6x6 inches

, 12:37

I came across this very old church building in Devon, England with faded pink-painted walls and right next to a colourful display of summer dahlias. The scene stuck in my mind for a long time afterwards. I recall it here to the best of my ability, in pastel, with vivid orange and deep purple-red flower-heads.

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/608859

Glastonbury: Ink on paper 16x11 inches

, 14:10

Just a complete break for a few days from oil painting, in order to play with something new. I have read several articles on ink and gouache resist techniques but never tried them. They seem to work best with strong shapes and structures, so I dug out a photograph of Glastonbury Tor, famous English landmark, and did a drawing on watercolour paper. The technique then requires the artist to cover over those areas that need to be white in the final picture. The covering is done with thick white gouache paint. Once this is thoroughly dry, the whole picture is painted over with black india ink (waterproof). This must also be left to dry.

When ready, the paper is placed under a cold flow of water and the gouache paint, although covered with ink, will begin to drift off the paper. The ink on top of it will also flow off. Areas that were not painted with gouache will be black ink. However...

The random nature of this process shows that some areas of white will be flecked with black. Also, some thinner patches of gouache will not totally resist the ink and thus may turn quite dark. In my picture, the black patch on the right hand side happened because I did not paint thickly enough with the white gouache.

The overall effect is one reminiscent of a woodcut. The image is stark black and white. It is possible to add colour but the black ink will resist most water-based paints. You might paint over it with thick acrylic, however.

I decided to leave this image alone and not add colour. I may do a second one....it will never come out the same as the first...and try adding colour as an experiment.

A few days ago I carried out another wash for a different subject, which is more complex. It is testing the ability to place black and white areas in the image; sometimes I get it right, sometimes not. The images are far more graphic than "standard" painting; they may help to create new painting ideas for me.

Good fun in between my usual oil paintings.

Winter Clouds over Loch Tay: oil, 12x9 inches

, 17:53

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/christine-derrick/winter-clouds-loch-tay/477876

The painting for this post is a little more unusual. It has been painted on Arches oil paper, a fairly new product that looks very much like watercolour paper but has been specially treated to handle oil paint.

Normally, the oils and turps will eventually rot untreated paper (that is, a sheet of watercolour paper used "as is"). There is nothing wrong in using such paper for oil-sketching but you have to just remember that it may have quite a short life-span.

Arches oil-paper takes a little bit of getting used to; this is only the second time I've tried it. I find the surface to be fairly absorbent; it pulls moisture from the brush as you paint over the surface, causing the brush to "run out" of paint quite quickly. It does, though, permit turpsy washes to be put down, rather like a watercolour wash; very useful for blocking in the main components of a picture. Washes can be scrubbed around, too, the paper is strong and able to put up with some rougher treatment.

Once a certain amount of paint has been laid on, it becomes easier to add it with a painting knife. You can push the paint around and scrape it off with very few problems. In the case of this painting, I started to add the light parts of the clouds on top of the darker areas with a small knife. The bright ochre-orange foreground hillside was worked only with a small knife. It was easy to push the paint around on such a smooth surface; and the marks created did not sink down or disappear.

I think the paper tends to give a more matt finish to the painted image, than you would get on canvas, and certainly more so than on a gessoboard. However, I find this interesting because there is some resemblance to the matt appearance of a pastel painting.

Finally, how to frame something on oil-paper. Contrary to some beliefs, you don't HAVE to frame it under glass, just because it is paper. There are a number of ways of getting the paper mounted onto stiff backing-boards (I'm still researching them); this then creates a panel, which can be framed just like any other oil, i.e without glass. I imagine that, once strengthened in this way, and maybe also with varnish on it, the picture will be as robust as any other canvasboard or ply panel.

I might consider painting the same subject twice; once on oil-paper for a matt finish; and then in pastels on my usual surface, to make a comparison.

Summer Masses: oil on canvasboard 6x8 inches

, 14:32

On DailyPaintWorks.com: http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/christine-derrick/summer-masses/476550

Back to painting again and this one is now dry enough to scan and put online.

Continuing with the clouds theme which seems to have taken over much of my painting in recent months; these were viewed from a high vantage-point in the Lake District near Threlkeld. Painted fairly quickly, within a couple of hours, to try and catch the briskness of the storm clouds which, although rather cumbersome, were buzzing through the sky at a fair rate.

In case anyone's wondering what has happened to my pastels, the answer is nothing....generally. For some reason, at this particular time, oils are working for me better than anything else, so I just go with it.

"Valley Storm": oil on canvasboard, 8x8 inches

, 11:10


Now at DailyPaintWorks.com: $75 (£50). http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/christine-derrick/valley-storm/473360

Have had a painting "surge" recently and completed this one above, a couple of weeks back, along with another four small oils that are now drying. To avoid burn-out, I'm going to be working on a larger acrylic project, to rest the brains a bit.....for a little while.

My pastels have taken a bit of a back seat in recent weeks, especially floral subjects. This happens sometimes and one has to simply go with what the creative force is highlighting. In mid-summer I shall have a local group exhibition to prepare work for, so there's plenty to do.

Since deliberately setting up a new palette of oil-colours, I have found my oil-painting to flow more satisfactorily. I have had a habit of changing tube-colours for each painting, with mixed results....some ok, some rather dull (I haven't posted those!!). Now, I am going along with a double primary palette; ultramarine blue, thalo blue, cadmium yellow, lemon yellow, alizarin crimson, cadmium red....plus white. Occasionally using cadmium orange and permanent rose (when I can't find the alizarin tube). It is making me stay within a limited choice, something I have tried to do in the past (and failed). This is very much a personal progress thing and not much interest to a potential purchaser, but I feel all the better for it.

Evening Yachts: oil, 4x3 inches

, 12:30

Here's a little one to pass the time with:

At auction as from February 9th, starting at $7: http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/503365

Balcary Bay, Galloway: oil on gessobord

, 22:05

Today I was out on a chilly coastal path, attempting to pastel-sketch the rapidly changing clouds in front of me, across mudflats. Those sketches will I hope turn into paintings a little later on. This one today has been drying a little while and can now be scanned. It is a holiday scene that took my particular interest and I have already painted it twice before; once in pastel and again in oils....albeit from different viewpoints.

Balcary Bay, Galloway : oil on gessoboard, 7x5 inches

At DailyPaintWorks auction as from 15th January, for 7 days:

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/494275

I still have images of the previous versions:

Calm Light, Balcary : pastel on paper approx 13x8" This was quite a different time of day; more to late afternoon/evening.

also:

Balcary Bay : oil on canvasboard 7x5"

The pastel was done in 2009, the oil under it not till 2012. It is interesting to do the same subject several times, although oddly enough it is something I have rarely done till recent times. I still like the pastel and have retained it; but I suspect I'll be tackling the theme again at some stage.

Summer Clouds

, 17:48

Slowly sliding back into normal life from the holiday period. I haven't yet got under way with much new, so here's a little oil painting that's dried sufficiently to go into the scanner.

Summer Clouds : oil on gessoed panel, 7x5 inches

On DailyPaintWorks now, for 7 days: http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/492161

I like to make a hand-gessoed MDF panel. I first cut up a number of different-sized panels using a band-saw; then seal both sides with Golden GAC100, and the board's edges, before painting over with acrylic gesso (currently using Liquitex gesso). I do one gesso coat on the reverse (sometimes a second if the first is a bit thin) and two or three coats on what will be the front-side. Leave em to dry and use when required. Although I don't do a large number of oils now, I have begun to prefer the smoother panels to canvas-surfaces. I rarely use stretched canvas these days.

This small painting is a very simple study of summer cumulus clouds over wide grasslands, near the coast. It was done with five colours plus white; thalo blue, ultramarine blue, cadmium scarlet, cadmium yellow, raw sienna and titanium white.