Saturday, 22 November 2008

Fincas Casares Landscape Watercolour Painting

Being a northern man I am used to seeing Autumn as the crescendo of the year. When its then followed by the onset of winters cloak I view it as the end of colour and the beginning of the greys and muted life. Of course there is the exception of the sparkling winter day, the magnificence of a frontal systems sky etc but in general these are splashes of light that we use to brighten up the months of dark . Here in the Casares Valley the autumns seem to make the world a better place. First of all the temperature drops a welcome ten degrees to about 22C which makes it more bearable to paint outdoors. Then there is the rain which comes in torrents and with it the gurgling playful sound of running water in Arroyos and Rios. Then not only does the Andalusian landscape painter have access to the new palette of deeper reds and browns of the autumn woodland but also a new colour, a vibrant green. The footpaths and trackes which litter the valley floor are covered with the palest of green clovers and grasses. As a painter you are spoiled for choice by the richness of colour. Finally in between the woods and ancient fields the Fincas or Farmsteads compete for the prize of who can be the brightest. Often painted in whites, or warm reds, or pale ochres, they stand like castles on the rise of a ridge or like an elven house huddled amongst the trees.





Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Some notes on work this week.

For a few days now the hills of Africa across the strait have looked very close and are very clear to the naked eye; they are a wonderful deep red in colour and the sea a flat blue so that the large tankers and other ships loom like drifting skyscrapers above it; I can discern groups of Moroccan buildings; a lighthouse or two; the town and last night even the blink of a car or truck headlight.
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Having a cold for the last two days has set me back on this week’s planned work. Yesterday despite the temperature outside of 22 degrees C I felt chilled and came inside, wrapped myself up and spent my time indoors; as is the case when you work alone it’s hard to get on task; the result being I flitted mentally and physically from one task to another; I spent a lot of time watching Africa; I didn’t accomplish an awful lot; I think I am going to paint a long painting of its hills with the massive sky above it; Even my time sheet which I had placed in prominent places as a prompt for myself the night before, went largely unheeded. My indoor plan or wet weather route today was to do some watercolours on some local Fincas and make a start drawing up maps of two contrasting art routes from Slaidburn to Roeburndale and Estapona to Casares via the Arroyo Hondo but did not.
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All day I had stared at the large canvas that I had worked on in the fading light on the summit of Los Reales; but nothing was happening to it; by the end of the day I felt less chilled and walking past the painting and seeing it in the same light things began to happen within it; the colour and form began to emerge; I carried the canvas outside and in the dwindling light of a splendid sunset managed to make a great deal of progress on it without a fight.
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Today; the wind is strengthening and it howls and moans around the Moorish designed superstructure of the apartment building; it is maintaining its westerly route to the Ocean; it blows strongly from the East carrying a warm scent; I am in luck; I am in the lee of the building and can work without all my papers and things being blown about; Africa has disappeared again behind a shimmer that is neither sea nor sky; Gibraltar wears its white woolly hat; This morning I feel much better and the work I did yesterday still feels good; I have made some good progress on the two watercolours and I have started on two more small canvas’s of the working farms or Fincas up on the Casares road; today I also got two emails complimentary emails on my work and some interest from an art dealer in London; so its onwards and upwards. At least it was until a thunderstorm struck in mid to late afternoon; the deluge flooded the terrace and a retreat had to organised.
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Sunday, 16 November 2008

Arroyo Hondo Casares Landscape painting


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The light was just starting to fade as the departing rays of the November sun struggled to keep within the confines of this steep valley. El Arroyo Hondo. The very steep valley and bright light sets up an ever changing array of beautiful blues and purples that drift upwards for about an hour and a half, the blues chasing their counterpart the warm reds and oranges of the autumnal Andaluz woodland.
This valley has been created by an arroyo digging deep into the hard rocks. The woodland that has largely been planted over the centuries is made up of ancient oaks planted for their cork, Juniper Trees planted for their berries which once fed the Moorish silk worms, and the grain crops planted on the steep slopes which once fed the now derelict water mills.
After painting here in temperatures of the mid 30’s c in August it feels strange to be feeling cold at 12c. Up and down the valley smoke from new an old Fincas hangs in stratas of creamy white over the pale cream buildings under blue green trees. High above a vulture drifts spiralling effortlessly in an infinity of pale blue. Whilst around me the air is full of the chatter of birds getting ready for their dreams. I painted, facing directly into the sun, hiding beneath the shade of the surrounding trees until a last blinding ray shone into my eyes saying “adios pintura”. As I gathered up my brushes and packed my canvas away.
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Friday, 14 November 2008

Los Reales de Seirra Bermeja Landscape Painting


I spent some hours working outside on the Los Reales Seirra Bermeja.
The 2 images above are details taken from the Los Reales painting as dusk approached.
The image below is the canvas wedged against a table.

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As a painter the atmosphere on the Pico or Peak is breathtaking. I painted with acrylic and charcoal on a 1m x 1m canvas. I was initially stationed with the canvas propped against a fir tree above a near vertical 700 metre slope of crags. Far below the white forest road snakes down to a very blue sea. The abrupt change in altitude 1000m in aprox 5k makes for constant cloud and winds which give a temperature change from 22c in November down to 4c. At times it was more like flying a kite than painting on a canvas, one minute I was working in a windless, hot, sauna and the next minute I was freezing in a strong gust, with ice crystals falling to within 2 metres of the ground before they melted. As the gusts of wind became stronger I had to chase after the 1 metre square canvas across the mountain, fortunately it went up the slope. I then decided that I would have to move location in order to wedge it against a table and be able to focus on my work in some safety. At the end of the day I had to work with the canvas flat on the table top, I used piled stones to stop it from flying away. The ground looks quite normal in the image, in reality it is a very sharp small gorse like plant.
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As I painted I watch an Ibex graze and Eagles hunt close by. I completed the basic sections of the painting in 4 hours trying to catch the fleeting light as dusk descended. I think I will leave the painting in these dusk shades and tidy up some of the marks on the terrace studio at Casares.
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Next week I shall take a second large canvas along with some breakfast and aim to start in the early morning sun.
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I have added some information translated from a Malaga natural information centre below.
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Los Reales The Pico or mountain peak is high above Estapona and is located at the southwestern side of the SerranĂ­a de Ronda.
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The most attractive site of these mountain range are the little Spanish fir forests of Los Reales, consisting of 1.236 Ha. and protected since 1989 being declared as Natural Site.
Its ground, together with its smooth and relative rainy climatology, achieve a very special flora and vegetation, among them about 50 different vegetable species, considered to be rare by its botanical interest or by being in danger of dissapearance.The forests mainly consist of the Spanish fir, but there can also be found pine trees, junipers, cork trees and kermes oaks.
Concerning the fauna it is remarkable to see, the Spanish Ibex, the wild cat, the roe deer and the mongoose. And among the birds of prey, the eagle, the hawk, the kestrel and the owl.
Los Reales are part of the mountain range of Sierra Bermeja, which, through de 35Kms. separates Ronda from the Mediterranean Coasts. The mountain range has got an average height of 1.000 m. and is located between the Sierra de las Nieves and the pico de Los Reales, taking a southwestern - northeastern direction parallel to the Coast. At its very sharp sides there can be found some trees.The colour of its red rocks gives the name to the mountain range and it can be easily seen between the white coloured lime stones of Sierra de las Nieves and of the Sierra Blanca de Marbella.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Manilva Andalucia Landscape Drawing.

Artwork Sketchbook106 Artwork Sketchbook  Manilva 1

The view from Manilva looking across to Bahia Casares from the Manilva Sketchbook. Graphite and Ink.