Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Painting the Gloamin

Gloamin 2

Across the fields towards Pleasington Lat light

Farmhouse behind some trees Dole Lane early
dusk after the rain

Images glanced at and remembered in no particular order
Gloamin abstraction
Morning sky rain and more rain

The Lake District is and as always been a perfect place for a painter and fell walker.  

“ For me, wherever I am, the inspiration for my landscape paintings comes from both painting and walking in the land. I see this as a meditation which provides me with a direct sense of place. For me, making a painting is like writing prose or a poem, both an expression of a feeling and an impression of a place. Depending on the nuances of the paint the wind or sun my work finishes somewhere between abstraction and figurative. “

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Painting the gloamin

Gloamin 1.

Writing as a Landscape Painter on the subject of painting landscapes of the Moors and Valleys of Lancashire in winter. I always feel slightly down at heart when November ends and the evenings draw in with  full dark  at about 4.30pm. In the past especially when I returned from painting in Southern Spain I ignored this feeling of melancholia by  painting away at a canvas with oodles of bright colour only to have to scrape it all off and paint it again because it didn't feel quite right. My partner and friends aghast at my actions. I've worked hard to make myself a painter whose responsive to what's around me and its difficult for me to switch that lever to off. My  paintings would change as the sky lightens at the end of January. The worse case scenario is a wet Lancashire winter which sometimes lasts until Easter when spring and colour bursts forth.

Around that time I had a number of large commissions which called for bright spring light. Luckily my studio was and is windowless so that my bread and butter work could carry on under bright lights from the English Lighting Company along and a blaze of colour that bounces from one painting to the next.

This year I'm going to try something new and welcome melancholia by walkin and drawin in the gloamin this weird time of the day and year.  I'm taking my cue and inspiration from Poets who are Land based. Like Wordsworth, Jaccottet plus the excellent work of Scots Poets such as Alexander Grey, John Stuart Blackie and Kathleen Raine who describe the daily living made from scratching the poor soil of the uplands. Winters good for poets, for them its a time to sit in front of the fire, reflect and make poems. The same can be said for painters.  How to maintain interest in gloom can be read as how to maintain interest in the day.

Gloamin 1 drawing mixed media on paper Charcoal, ink, watercolour

With this in mind I set out to conquer melancholy.Once started and in the painting zone in winter  I find it hard to tear myself away. Though I know the benefits of good fresh air and exercise. To do this I set my alarm for 4.15pm, strap my fitbit to my wrist, get into my buffalo jacket pick up my sketch bag and I go and make drawings. I'm lucky that in  just a few minutes walk from my easel and tables, up a track there's  an old rough stone wall to sit on. From this vantage point a view of soft browns emerge the top of tree branches brushing a greying orange sky, high above deep grey blue clouds arce. To my right above a hedge of stunted scrag end Hawthorne blown lateral a cold grey colour block of sky turns dark. This is a good place for drawing the living landscape drawing with charcoal and watercolour. Further into the wood an enormous chattering group of Crows emerge as they scold a fox or another walker and his dog. I wander over a still green field, onto the flat ridge top its crusty inch of soil spotted by outbreaks of millstone. Over the field a view of a steadfast copse of ancient twisted beech is loosing itself in a smudge of brown. Beyond all this a still glittering band of sea stretches from Barrow down along Lancashire's silver coast, to Liverpool and North Wales. A splendid place that is quintessentially Northern. To the west a dimming orange horizon spreads up to a silver blue that shivers between the trees. This is the gloaming the moment of near dark a still light lingering and flickering as the winter sun slowly ebbs away.

Fact check I use the word gloaming because I like it very much. I first heard it in the poetry and songs of the Scots and of late via an Irish group of musicians. According to the dictionary it's also an old English word descended from the Norsk settlers. Here's a dictionary definition of Gloamin. which is a very very old word,…/roaming-in-the-gloaming/,

Monday, 19 November 2018

In the studio South Lakes series work in progress

Studio a three of the medium sized South lakes paintings on the esel
and floor alongside a larger Striding Edge in the 
background and an 
unfinished painting of Iona in the Western Isles

Troutbeck twisting lane and old barn in the midsummer
oil on board linen
Lower Vallery Kentmere in midsummer
oil on linen board

Upper valley Kentmere in mid summer
oil on linen board
Painting  for me is about exploring what I see and about trying new ways of experiencing them. For the South Lakes series I was entranced by the light of both summer and winter and how I could represent them. I had already spent a couple of sunshine days down by the River Leven below Windermere and think with these smaller works in mind I have continued with the study of light captured in individual brush marks. The lake District has its own Lake District Genre developed amongst local painters both alive and dead.It is difficult not to be influenced by them and to plow my own furrow.

Sparkling light River Levens
oil on board 20x30cm

Late Summer colours i a deep pond on the River Leven
oi on board

See this work at studio 11 Falcon Mill Studios Handel Street Bolton 

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Poppy day 2018

Poppy for Armistice Day
acrylic on canvas
I'm not sure if poppy paintings at this time of the year should have a narrative maybe silent respect during its making and showing. My Father and Grandfather fought in both world wars and I have memories of them talking about the experience including the loss of their friends. Both Im sure would be worried, even horrified  at the growing social divide and increasing poverty in Britain. 
What was it all about?

Monday, 29 October 2018

A large painting in oils off Hest Bank Morecambe Bay lancashire

Hest Bank oil on canvas 90x100cm aprox
It certainly seems ages since I began this work last Autumn in 2017. It's spent most of its time lounging around the studio at the back under a pile of acrylics as other work took priority. I'm glad  it went that way. A second trip to Hest bank in early summer produced some nice en plein air paintings and a lasting visual memory of the kind of sparkle day that can only be seen when limestone meets the sea, sky and sun in the shape of Silverdale in the mid distance. Once Id had that reminder the rest went fairly quickly.

I think I'm liking the use of repeated washes here, I know that they can be seen as somewhat different from some of my work which focuses on brush marks.

Friday, 19 October 2018


Rob Miller Fine Art: WATER STREET GALLERY TODMORDEN: Rob Miller Seascapes at the Water Street Gallery Todmorden The seaside moves to Todmorden. From next week people in Todmorden can che...