The Park Gate Collective Artists Open House officially closed for business on Sunday 27th May. It’s been a great month for all of us, surpassing our expectations and leaving us all enthused about what we might do next and how we might take ‘the collective’ forward in the future!
From a personal perspective, I was delighted to sell a few more paintings. First to go was this view of La Segrada Familia:
and finally, this view of the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts at the University of Sussex:
Of all my paintings, this was probably the one that generated the most interest but, as time went on, I began to write off any chance of selling it. It’s a half sheet painting, so one of my larger works which, mounted and framed measures 70cms x 50cms. I originally imagined that, if it went to anyone, it would be to someone with a connection to the place.
I’m delighted however that this work will be taking up residence in Paris with an architect who has absolutely no connection with the location, but who made lots of connections with the painting – and who can ask for more than that.
While I was on duty over the weekend, I thought I’d best make myself useful and do a bit of painting. The other weekend I went to visit friends who live about 30-40 minutes outside Brighton in the countryside. The weather was gorgeous, and their house, which is also rather gorgeous, looked so magnificent that I couldn’t resist taking a few photographs.
Back home, I thought it would be an interesting challenge to do a ‘house portrait’ and, in a fit of enthusiasm, set about it during my time at the Open House. Here’s my first take:
What particularly attracted me to the view was the dramatic sky and the silhouette of the house. At first, I thought this was going okay, but as I went on I became increasingly dissatisfied with it. I thought the house was too dark and gloomy looking, and the whole painting felt heavy-handed. I was finding it difficult to marry up my current preferred approach to painting, with the need to arrive at something that actually looked like the subject. The result was a distinct tightening of the hand and my brushstrokes.
Feeling a little downcast, but not entirely disheartened, I went back to my references and selected a different image, from a similar viewpoint but taken at a different time of day, later on in the afternoon. The long shadows of tree helped to break up the foreground and, with the tree, create a nice composition that I think helps focus attention on the house.
I was also keen to treat the house a little lighter and bring more of the warm terracotta coloured tiles and brickwork to the fore. For a bit more interest, I added some figures under the distant umbrella and the suggestion of a figure carrying a tray over to them. I still struggled to balance my preferred, looser approach with this self-imposed brief but I’m much more pleased with this version than my first attempt.
What’s particularly pleasing is that I’ve sent pictures of these paintings to my friends and there are positive signs that they may be interested in having one in their home, which would be wonderful!
It also opens up a rather interesting avenue of house portraits! I remember as a child my parents were approached by someone hawking their aerial photographs of our house that they’d taken from a helicopter. I can now imagine driving around the countryside doing paintings of people’s lovely houses and then trying to doorstep them with a framed watercolour!
Oh, I almost forgot – with June comes the 30×30 Direct Watercolour challenge. To make this endeavour remotely manageable, I needed to come up with something modest in scope, but also something a bit different that may even be fun. So here’s my plan:
Aside from this being another contender for the most boring photo on the internet – this is an old imperial sized sheet of Bockingford paper that I’ve taped up into 30 small squares.
My plan is to do small sky studies in an instagram / squarish format. I’m still deliberating whether these will be skies only, or whether they’ll include a skyline of some sort, or maybe some telephone wires, or jet streams etc that I thought might make some interesting little abstracts. I’m nervously excited about this. I have no idea whether I’ll stick with it but I’m hopeful that it’ll prove to be an interesting little project on the sidelines!