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Wednesday, 16 January 2008

What's in a name?

This blog started out under the name, "The Illuminated Landscape", but having just discovered that there is a book about painting and another blog with a similar title, I have decided to change the name to "The Filbert and Rigger". For the oil painters among you these terms will need no introduction. For everyone else however, these are types of brushes. The filbert is similar to a flat brush but has a rounded end, whilst the rigger has long slender hairs and, as the name implies, is used to paint thin lines - like the rigging on boats.

One that worked

I want to talk about a picture that i did some years ago now. It sits at the top of our stairs and I pass by it several times a day, usually without giving it any thought. Today however, was different. I'm not sure why but as I climbed the stairs I focused on the picture. Why do I like this picture, I thought. After all, it is of little technical merit and was only ever intended as a quick oil sketch, painted, as far as I can recall, on acrylic primed cartridge paper. I mulled this over for some time and the following points came to mind:

It is a visual reminder of the process and enjoyment of its creation. The piece came about after an early evening stroll along the Nottingham Canal armed with my video camera. Thumbnail sketches with written colour notes were done from the video.

I am entirely responsible for it - including the framing (made from some planed timber and quadrant beading). Creating something, albeit of little value, can be immensely satisfying.

Although it is painted quite thinly, the loose brushwork, especially in the foreground, gives the painting a feeling of spontaneity. Additionally, the limited palette has contributed to the overall colour harmony with the orange hues in the branches being played off against more muted grays and greens.

I think it captures the feeling of a crisp, sunlit autumn day.

For me, the composition works fairly well and even the home made frame seems to suit the picture.

The moral is that for a painting to be a success it does not need to be a grand, highly finished piece. Even the simplest of sketches can have their own merit and and often benefit from the lack of pressure during their creation that can easily cause a more important piece to appear laboured.

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Sunday, 6 January 2008

Autumn on the Nottingham Canal

This was painted alla prima in about two hours (It would have been quicker but I got carried away talking to passers by) towards the end of October last year. The support is one of my ususal suspects - a 10 x 8 gesso primed MDF board.

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Friday, 4 January 2008

More about me

If you have read my profile you will see that I have described myself as a civil servant turned painter. I thought I would start this blog by expanding a bit. I've been a civil servant for 21 years but, although I have enjoyed my job, I have become increasingly frustrated with the lack of opportunity and, for the last couple of years I have been itching for a change. Anyway, last year, in a bid to reduce staff, the department that I worked for announced an early exit scheme and so I took the plunge. I gave myself a well earned break and spent some time revising for an OU exam that I took in October. All went well and my degree is now finished - I managed to scrape a first! With that behind me I have decided to dedicate some time to my first passion - painting. That is where this blog comes in. I'm hoping to share some of my paintings, my experiences and hopefully make some new friends along the way.

To kick off here is a small painting (10 x 8) that I did recently. It is painted on a stretched linen canvas (I prefer to stretch my own) although, at this small scale I normally work on MDF panels prepared with a gesso and texture paste mix or, for a less absorbent surface, covered with muslin and then oil primed.

more of my paintings can be seen at

That's enough for now - I'm off to clean my brushes.