Wednesday, 29 August 2018

The Lodge at Lingholm Portinscale A watercolour painting

The Lodge at Lingholm
Water colour on paper 38x24cm

I began a series of drawings and paintings in the grounds of Lingholm Estate Portinscale Keswick some months and in some cases years ago whilst painting the large triptychs in the Stone Room which is situated in the main house. Stretched on large boards they have resided happily in the back of the studio. Today I dug them out determined to complete them and give them new life.

The grounds of the estate are quite breathtaking in the autumn and then the Lodge was newly refurbished and its gardens opened up to the light of sun.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Painting in the garden at the Lingholm Estate Portinscale

This is the initial water colour sketch in my garden sketch book. Its where I tried to plan out the this painting of Lingholms walled Garden. There where plenty of onlookers and visitors to the garden and kitchen and  needed to see if this view would actually work. In the studio and sometimes outdoors, largely dependant on the conditions its interesting to go with the flow and if necessary scrape off and over paint and correct areas of work or simply change my mind and pick out a different focus that may emerge for the work. After all  the more you look at something the more you see, changes in light wind etc etc can also make a sound reason for altering a composition . More often than not unless Im work small scale I get a bit caught out sometimes so if when you first pick up your brush and you like the look of the shadows do record them. 

The issue with painting in the  walled garden are the shadows and a back drop of dark trees which soar skywards. The layout is also quite formal leaving little room for creative exploration. When painting nature I try and stick with or whats the point I may as well sit at home and think  garden.
This is the first blocking out process the pots and urns add a definite structure and warm points of interest, the tall peas on their canes also make a wonderful backdrop. The light glancing over the garden walls created wonderful patterns through the leaves. I kept my brush marks small to try and emulate this pattern.

This is the second stage and the final one en plein air before I complete this and a couple of other smaller works. I had spent a couple of hours last week looking through some excellent books I bought on Whistler, Sorolla and Cezanne's garden paintings and had a kind of painterly journey in my mind. So  I annoyed myself considerably when I realized towards the final few minutes that I  had moved away from this accidently. The same thing happened at Gawthorpe Hall I'll try and post some of Sorolla's and Whistlers images. So you can see what I'm getting at.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Developing paintings in the garden 2

This is the second sitting with this garden subject which is a corner of the kitchen flower bed. Ive moved a couple of pots around and created some extra interest with some old setts. Today Im working with oil on board on a pochade that measures 30cmx30cm. The first sitting concerned making a water colour sketch in my garden sketch book  today the weather is fairly similar and the time of day is about the same. This means that I'm going to get I hope a good chance of completion. painting similar shadows and highlights. I'm never sure whether or not they should be called studies, I suppose I a painting them as a forerunner to some larger more abstract works at a later date when the studio is ready at the front of the house. But study seems to demean the creative process involved. I am not unfortunately for me a conveyor belt painter, by that I mean I don't paint the same old colour range, same subject, draw the outline the same way, paint dark tones then mid then light. I'm the worst of the indecisives, a change of light  can set me off in a completely different direction sometimes. My answer to that is to have a number of works on the go at once which saves a lot of navel gazing and muttering on my part as well as a lot of repainting and scraping off.  

I've started on a prepared board board that I painted with three layers of emulsion and a final glaze of thin acrylic scarlet red. I like the way the rough brush marks and patterns of tone can assist my eye to go more creative. I've made a start at an underdrawing using prussian blue and burnt umber. Outdoors I tend to use liquin or neoglit to speed up the drying I give the drawing about half an hour to dry a little.

My second foray is to block in some areas the background and the lighter grey foreground. I love Whistlers garden paintings and Sorellas and the way they paint the backdrops to flowers or ornamental features. It is so loose, my problem here is that I want to see how that works but Im working on a much much smaller canvas. I don't want to get to small with my brush size. If I did I will only start fiddling with detail. One brush stroke of mine covers a lot of the board. I'm trying to remember that. I love the way Cezanne worked in small marks and sinuous line but again Cezanne took an inordinate amount of time they say sometimes over many weeks on one canvas returning to it when the light was favourable and the paint drier. In the UK and the north Uk the weather is cooler and the seasons change quickly.

I've worked across some mid tones here especially on the plant pots and the greys on the ground. Ive dug out of my paint box a whole shed load of greens and Im having some fun mixing up different hes with different blues and greens. Because of the flat square brush that I'm using the painting is starting to get a little regular in the mark making but it will come good. I still don't really know, the lights changed a lot, where Im going to end up. I wanted contrast in shadows and light but as I work Im starting to reflect what I see.

Here a shot of the palette and tins of medium. I used to do a lot of colour chasing but Im over that now. Frustratingly I ca be a little lazy at times and say to myself that colour will do or I don't clean the brushes as much as I should. I think its because Im sat down squeezed between two flower beds and the bees and wasps have arrived in force. I do prefer standing up I find Im more organised that way.

Here's a shot of the easel and my box of art materials along with my uncomfortable small stool. You ca see that the day is becoming overcast and I'm having to guess a little as the lack of light is starting to flatten out shapes and fudge colour.

The palette and my red clogs, they cheer me up but my partner hates them but nobody ever wears them but me. 

Here's a shot down the board looking at how I've laid the paint on I have a love hate relationship with lumps I can make many marks and then find myself later scrapping off with the palette knife.

I think that this is about it for this sitting the digitalis looks fine to me Hopefully I will be back and complete tomorrow the forecast isn't good.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Developing paintings in the garden

The really hot weather has now moved on and the fresh rain and cooler temperatures have seen green become the predominant lush colour. As well as that on a very cheery note birdlife and wildlife is everywhere and there's a real atmosphere of the gardeners winged and crawling friends becoming much more industrious, including biting me.  Its sunny right now a warm 21C here in Brinscall with a mild fresh breeze. Above are banks of pale cream and light grey clouds travelling Eastwards stretching in long long lines from North to South. 

A gallery owner told me a few years ago that art buyers never bought green paintings, Im sat here pondering on that thought as I try to unscramble all the different greens in front of me. Ive made life harder by bringing out the wrong watercolour box. My garden watercolour set has loads of different yellows blues  greens and mauves that make an eclectic array of shades and tones. But having got up from my little camp stool to answer the phone, make coffee, answer the front door to the postman and become side tracked by my email pinging on the ipad, there's no way I'm going to get up again.

At the latest demo I did I was asked how to tackle a garden painting  by a lady who did not like to travel far from home but who wanted to paint outdoors. So here are a few easy notes Restricting your palette has a positive to it, I had to be more thoughtful about tone and brushmark in my small A5 sketch book. There's a simple pleasure in sketching and making art outdoors, but be warned if you think that you can go and sit on your bottom and get it right straight away your in for a rocky ride. Looking doesn't come naturally, well only to the super gifted. You have to train your eyes consciously to look and control your vision of what's around you. If you can stand on a high point and take a look at a view. Try and stand so that the light is sideways onto your subject matter. It really helps if its a nice sunny day with a low sun. Shadows and bright areas will be uniform and create lines between you and your subject.In front of you will be a mass array of tangled shapes and trillions of verdant hues. Over this will be a pattern of light and dark divide into blocks maybe squares maybe triangles maybe arches. Next take a look at the high ground or hedgerow or wall or rooftops. The dark line or squares create an horizon line for your sketch that may be straight or broken by taller plants or trees. Concentrate on finding three areas of interest that are formed by a fork in a tree, a dark curve of a bush meeting a light straight path and plot where these intersect. Mark these points or intersections, don't join them up just yet or better still ever.

You may be able to pick out some interesting geometric shapes and meeting points in the image above, straight lines and curves abound as does bright shade. Its a somewhat overgrown path in my rear garden where rocks, plants and brass lanterns find a changing jumbled home.

The overgrown cracks in the old paving make for soft lines that keep a constant geometric shape against the tall plants in the bedding as well as the planters and rocks. Once you have made a start on your drawing and feel that its a third complete stop at that point and take hold of your brush and a simple primary colour palette. Use the brush like your pencil or drop into your sketch blobs or shapes. Keeping it as loose as you can. Remembering which is your coffee and which is your woter pot. Coffee tastes good and also acts as a nice raw sienna whereas the water pot tastes awful and leaves a colour like mud. Give me coffee anytime. That reminds me its time for some more coffee. I will also prepare three boards for the next stage. I use 30x30cmx3mm board covered with a few layers of white emulsion coarsely brushed on to give texture marks and interest. The white paint incidentally which reflects colour back out to the viewer. Finally I add a wash of scarlet red acrylic I blob a little on the board and then use plenty of water to spread it out. It doesn't matter if it blotches or runs, it all adds interest. (Well within reason). Im going to go and do that now.  My next blog will move us onto a basic plein air oil painting in the garden. Blogging and chatting about making art is great with the ipad as I can stay in the environment that I wat to talk about. Great fun.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

UNFRAMED FRIDAY See new work and grab a bargain

Unframed Friday at Falcon Mill Studios
3rd August 2018 
10.30 - 5pm

Visit the studio . Grab a bargain and see my new work

further details from myself 
Rob Miller 07841140562

More about me 

Find Falcon Mill 

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

RA Summer Show 2018

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As usual the RA summer show throws up a discord of protests from working artists and art followers about its lack of artistic quality . For me its not the subject matter or narrative that I disagree with. My issue is with the RA a central organisation of British Art putting together a show which in the main people laugh at because it lacks skill, knowledge and I suppose artistic attitude. For me it betrays British painters and artists and is a contributing reason for the falling influence on society of British 'plastic' art.

Sunday, 22 July 2018


Its interesting that the abstract expressionists of America coined the word plastic to represent two dimensional art . The thought occurs to me that it was easier for them to dismantle classical art ainto abstractions and colour fields then it will be for the modern painter to give up using plastic in her  studio. Personally  I'm getting more and more unsure about the amount of plastic that I as an artists use and how we are  Dealing with plastic. I've decided to make this a part of this blog and here is a link to a positive video that doesn't just talk about it but gives alternatives to using plastics. I think glass and metal have to be the main two elements. Heres a practicing artist whose has tackeled the issue head on australian oplastic artist

As a landscape painter I profess to be a supporter of environmental protection from my waste, the materials I use and the waste thats derived from the industrialists who make the raw products that are then made into art materials. I'm looking first at making a list Acrylic paint, paint tubes. synthetic brushes, jars for mediums and turpentine, tidy boxes, palettes and boxes especially watercolour just the start of what will be a long list. One intention is to make a toxic corner by putting all the worse materials into a corner and painting it.

Image result for plastics and artist painting equipment