Friday, March 23, 2018

ICELAND, PART 3



Here are the final paintings done from the Iceland trip. Some are unfinished unfortunately but I didn't get the time to work on these as I had wished. I'm sure that they will be worked up eventually and I'm also sure that I'll be doing more paintings from the trip later on.
There was still a lot of snow on the higher elevations as shown in this series of paintings and I have to say that I was quite captivated by the distant mountains swathed in snow and the lower regions more open showing how the moss had covered most of the lava. Next would come smaller bushes then dwarf trees etc slowly covering the landscape as we saw in other areas of Iceland.





I remember how some of the peaks would drift in and out of focus as clouds drifted across them and it is this effect that I would like to put into a large painting. This will take some thinking about first though and certainly more than a few pre-studies. Actually I consider many of the paintings shown here as pre-studies as I am better able to work out what it is I want to say in this smaller scale.





This work was completed after a portion of our trip was delayed due to bad weather and we arrived at a visitors center with only about half an hour to spend as we saw fit. I immediately headed outside and began jogging towards the glacier at the foot of the mountain shown above (although we were told not to go there as there wasn't enough time - still I thought I could make it). Well after about 30 seconds, the wind came up in such a way blowing directly at me that I was forced to a walking pace - and a slow one at that! Realizing that the Gods had spoken, I gave up my attempt to reach the glacier and continued at a slower pace looking around me at the various rocks and plants eventually making it back just in time to catch the coach onto our next stop.





While looking at and photographing the plants mentioned above, a Redwing slowly approached calling all the while. I kept still and was afforded amazing views as it passed just a few feet from where I sat. I did a few quick sketches and took more photos as I followed it about for awhile. The bird seemingly not at all worried by my presence.





So then, from incredible and towering mountains to black-sand beaches that spread as far as the eye could see, from grass sod houses to picture-perfect blue fjords, from desolate rocky coastline to foggy moors, from massive waterfalls to serene slow-moving streams, Iceland had all this and much more. Birding was incredible (although due to the weather we didn't see any Puffins) and there were many species either resident or on migration during the time we were there so I consider myself lucky to have visited at that time to see it all. I'm quite sure that there is still plenty left to see so I will go back some day, probably during the summer months next time.

Monday, February 26, 2018

ICELAND, PART 2





A few more paintings from our Iceland trip. Most of these were done in my sketchbook during the day, a few of the oils were completed when back home in the studio. I have kept the oils smallish for two reasons: 1, working at this size allows me to complete a painting in a relatively short period of time (I have so many ideas for future paintings) and 2, if successful, they serve as studies for larger paintings. The clouds in this painting were just clearing the closest mountain but washing away the top of the more distant one. I loved the way the snow brought out all the ridges, valleys and the very structure of the land.




Eider Ducks were common along the coast and quite approachable. I was able to sketch and paint them from close-up noting many plumage details etc. Occasionally they would display with the male giving lovely cooing calls. Apart from some 2nd year birds, they were all paired up at this time of the year with the males in close attendance to the females at all times.





Almost as common but certainly not as tame were Great Black-backed Gulls. They looked magnificent while surfing the brisk winds we found in Iceland and were at times a welcome sight to a somewhat forlorn and severe landscape.




We stopped off in such a landscape as described above for a quick photo stop. It was still very cold in the wind and with intermittent rain. Higher up this precip fell as snow so most of the visible mountains were capped like the study done in my sketchbook shown here. Stunning was one way of describing the surrounding landscape. The glacier which appears in the lower right was some distance away but had drifts of snow and rain falling across it giving incredibly atmospheric views - something I hope to try and capture in a larger painting.





This larger oil was completed in the studio after we got back using the study I did of this scene shown in the last post. I tried hard with this one to more accurately capture the tones and colors of the mountains. Oh, to live and work in such a place!






I saw this scene from the bus as we drove by so was only able to do a quick watercolor study in my sketchbook. Sometimes these studies are the impetus for larger paintings - usually though they remain as studies only. I still value them though - sometimes more than my finished work! I have other works of Iceland in various stages of completion so must give up a few days soon to finish them all off.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

ICELAND



Travelling has gotten in the way of Blogging! Our latest trip to Iceland was, simply put, incredible! So many beautiful scenes, places and images - I collected so much that I have about a lifetime of reference to choose from. I worked mostly in my sketchbook during the day and continued painting each evening when we got back to the hotel. The above study was the first one I did when I returned home to the studio - it is a small painting (5" x 7") but I'm happy that I captured the distant mountains with the covering of snow just as I remembered them.





We basically did the circle tour around Iceland but the weather when we arrived was rainy, cool and overcast. The winds increased so much that some roads were closed and we had to sit out in the hotel one morning until they re-opened the road. The previous evening, we had walked down to the beach shown in the painting above and were nearly blown over by the force of the winds - I have never experienced such rough weather! Amazingly just offshore were large flocks of seabirds seemingly in their element and the wind didn't seem to bother them much at all.




Fortunately the weather improved over the next few days until we had wonderful sunshine near the end. Birdlife was impressive as we visited during the early migration period. I had a few birds on my list that I really wanted to see and was happy that I saw most of them - including 3 Gyrfalcons! Pity we missed the puffins as the weather was too bad to visit their nesting sites. Equally impressive was the landscape which changed quite a bit as we circled the island. Apart from livestock, the only other mammals we saw were reindeer.




The Icelandic people were friendly and very helpful, our driver and guide exceptional. The girl in the watercolor above worked with horses and had a lovely voice. Other paintings of portraits and landscapes are to follow when I get the chance. I do plan to return to Iceland one of these days, probably in the summer this time to explore and further experience this wonderful place.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

COSTA RICA, PART 3




The last few paintings from the trip. Another morning scene, this time on the next beach over from where we were staying - this time at high tide. Here I was taken by the stunning light across the water, the waves and the distant landscape. Size of this oil is 9" x 12". There were a surprising amount of wading birds resting and occasionally feeding along this strip of the coast. Since I didn't want to disturb them, there are no close-up photos to show you but amongst the more common species were quite a few North American waders and an occasional osprey drifted by. Brown Pelicans soared over the waves just offshore - marvelous!




Painting these banana trees were of special importance to me as when we were leaving the area, a  large flock of frigate birds flew over heading towards the coast - I distinctly remember seeing them appear and disappear as they flew above the treetops - wonderful! The painting was difficult and I had to take it slow - I don't usually like painting a lot of green in a painting but this was one that worked out okay I think. I especially wanted to capture the fan-like effect of the leaves as they seemed to soak up the sun. Size is 8" x 10", oil.





This small painting holds a special place in my heart as it seems to sum up all the experiences of Costa Rica in a single painting. I suppose it is mainly about the light which seems to be particular to the area, and this brings it all back. We passed many such places as this - so many paintings yet to do from this wonderful trip. Title of the painting is Roadside Trees. Oil, 5" x 7".


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

COSTA RICA, PART 2



Travelling as we did from one side of Costa Rica to the other gave us the opportunity to see many different aspects of the country. These large huts were half-hidden by the foliage and the jungle seemed to be slowly reclaiming the place. This is a smaller 5"x 7" study as I plan on doing larger paintings of most of the images shown here.




This one is a slightly larger painting of a study I did earlier but this time using a square format and aiming for the same bright and sunny effect. I think I pulled it off although for the larger one I plan on doing later, I'll be reverting back to a regular landscape format. I used an 8" x 8" board upon which I had glued a piece of canvas (using a neutral ph glue). I then then primed with two coats of acrylic gesso - sanding between coats. This results in a surface that I find I am liking more and more as time goes by so have made up a whole batch of different-sized canvas-boards on which to work.




I was lucky to be at the beach with the sun setting over the water for this one. Again, a small study (7" x 5") but hopefully to be painted much larger when I get the chance. I could have worked there for ages as it was a spectacular sunset but I focused on a smaller area towards the end of the beach where two small headlands jutted out into the sea. Managed to gather a lot of photographic reference also so have plenty of ideas to get on with.





The final painting in this part is again one of rock pools which has always been a favorite subject of mine and brings back many happy memories exploring the North Cornwall coast when I was much younger. Unlike the studies shown above, this one is painted directly on a gessoed board - size is 8" x 8".

Monday, July 31, 2017

COSTA RICA, Part 1



Visiting Costa Rica with friends was an unforgettable experience that has resulted in a whole series of paintings. Mostly these are smaller studies done in oil with the intention of doing some larger paintings when I get back to the studio. One day in particular when I had a few hours to myself, I walked for some time along the coast and found some lovely places to paint. That outing alone has resulted in 5 or 6 studies with more planned.




Weather was truly outstanding with cool breezes in the mornings and bright mostly sunny days - talk about tropical paradise! The whole trip was well organised and we managed to see most of the country.




A lot of time was spent either in the pool or walking the beach. I tried getting up each day at dawn and seeing what was about before anyone else was up. Plenty of birds and truly spectacular scenery.





What impressed me the most was the complete diversity of life and how in balance most of the country seemed. I felt completely at home there and could have stayed for months! For once I was able to spend my time as I had hoped, living my authentic self, travelling, observing and painting - for that I am truly grateful!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

AUSTRALIA, PART 3



Arriving in Hobart - the capital of Tasmania - was interesting as it is very picturesque with great museums etc. Surrounded on one side by mountains, the other faces a sheltered bay. We though, were staying about 45 min out of town in a very quiet village by the sea. Connecting with old friends was wonderful as it had been quite some time. John lives as a poet and editor so happily works from his garden office while M works in Hobart. Still, not much of a commute though - hardly any cars on the road and not a single traffic light until you get close to the city! Definitely my kind of place then. The general landscape was in a way similar to the mainland but still had plenty of its own beauty and charm.





Taking a two-day tour of North-Eastern Tasmania was a perfect introduction to the country! Our visit took us to most of the major tourist attractions and included a few strenuous hikes! Well worth it though and although I didn't manage any paintings over those few days, I did gather plenty of reference - both photos and sketches. Later in the week we took a trip over to Bruni Island  which was really unforgettable! Wonderful hikes through the forest and along the shore - great birds and perfect company -  couldn't have asked for more. We had lunch at a beach so beautiful that I could have lived there for the rest of my life!





Memorable birds included a fly-over of a large flock of Black Cockatoos - some of them landing in the trees right under where we sat - and both Scarlet and Flame Robins. We also picked up most of the endemic birds of Tasmania so were well happy with that side of things. Common birds were also welcome and John's garden attracted many including a breeding pair of Blackbirds. Wonderful waking in the mornings to Blackbird song as that really took me back to England where I was born.





So all in all, a great introduction to Australia and Tasmania - pity we had to leave so soon . We felt quite at home there and could have stayed for months. An added bonus thanks to John, was the sighting of 3 Wedge-tailed Eagles overhead as we drove to the airport on our last day! We will have to go back soon but for now the focus is on our next trip to Costa Rica.




Pics above:

Bay of Fires Study, 5" x 7", oil on canvas
Wineglass Bay
Bruni Island coastline
Silver Gulls
Native Hen