small paintings

Small paintings born in observations that attract the eye and mind.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Nocturnal Painting - Three Amigos at the Domain near Sydney Hospital & Parliament House Sydney

I am finding the city at night an interesting place to paint. The light effects and shadows create interesting shapes and a sense of mystery which lends themselves to a more abstract quality in the paintings.
This painting came as I was heading home after an exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW, and my friends were waiting for me to catch up. The light behind them created mysterious atmospheric silhouettes.
Oil on canvas, mounted on board
10 x 12 inches  (25 x 30 cm)
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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pearl Beach near Sydney, Australia.

 Every so often I participate in an art weekend with a group of friends, discussing painting methods, things that have inspired us, sharing ideas, watching art films, etc., etc.   A few weeks ago spent one of those wonderful weekend with friends who live at Pearl Beach, which is just north of Sydney, Australia. 
 My plein air (painted on site) paintings and sketches from that weekend, are shown below.  
Pearl Beach, near Sydney Australia
12 x 10 inches  (30 x 25cms)
Oil on board
It was a beautiful clear sunny day & we sat high on the rocks above, to paint this one. Evidently the name of the beach comes from the pearl shapes made by the waves in the wet sand.

The next day we descended to the beach where the light was quite different to yesterday, being quite dark and cloudy during the early morning. 

Pearl Beach
A couple of sketches using  watercolour pencil on paper

Pearl Beach Headland
A Oil on Canvas
12 x 10 inches  (30 x 25cms)

Four of our group will be attending the renowned Julian Merrow Smith's "Postcards from Provence"  plein air workshop in the south of France next year, which will be a wonderful experience.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Finger Wharves from Sydney Harbour Bridge

It has taken me about 50 years to discover that one can climb the southern pylon of the Harbour Bridge. What great views it provides.
Here is an oil painting that I did which captures the view looking towards the western side of the harbour bridge, & portraying the finger wharves below. The contrasting warm and cool light effects at this time in the late afternoon were very special.
Fingers  Wharves from Sydney Harbour Bridge

10 x 12 inches (25 x 30 cm), Oil on Canvas
The painting will be offered for sale in my next newsletter, featuring my new paintings. To subscribe please click here
The cruise liner "Sea Princess" sails under the bridge as it made its way on another pacifc cruise
A watercolour sketch of circular quay and some photos looking east from the pylon, appear on my sketch blog "the Painted Journey".
Please note that the studio will be closed until early May, whilst I will be away in south america.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Hawkesbury River, Sydney- Arthur Streeton and I.

A few weeks ago I travelled to paint the Hawkesbury River near Freemans Reach. The small plein air painting appears below.
Hawkesbury River near Freemans Reach
Hawkesbury River near Freemans Reach
5 x 4 inches  (12.7 x 10cm)
Oil on Canvas.
I didn't realise it at the time but I was only a river bend away from where Arthur Streeton in 1896 painted the iconic "The purple noon’s transparent might". I love the deep (but low chroma) blue that Streeton uses in this painting.

The Purple Noon’s Transparent Might by Arthur Streeton
 Oil on Canvas
123.0 x 123.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
The site is well marked now as "Streeton Lookout at Freemans Reach" overlooking the spot where Streeton painted the river. When Streeton discovered the Hawkesbury, the river became a subject for a  series of large works.  Streeton used unorthodox (for the time) shapes for his canvases and used a square one for this "panoramic" painting . He felt that he discovered "the great hidden poetry" of the Australian landscape in the ‘glory of river and plain spread before him.
Katherine Tyrrell has an informative post on Arthur Streeton on her blog "Making a Mark", and built a new website about Streeton with links to information and online images.

Streeton, Tom Roberts, Charles Condor, Frederick McCubbin and the other Australian Impressionists are well known for their plein air painting expeditions and "camps" near Sydney and Melbourne in the mid 1800s. The National Gallery of Victoria has a good overview reference of these sites at this link
I have recently sketched at a  couple of the other Sydney sites ( Coogee and Mosman Bay) that they painted at,  and they will feature in a couple of future posts.

My other blog "Painted Journey" has paintings and drawings from my second post about the painting trip to Central Australia around Alice Springs.
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

First Light MacDonnell Ranges - Finalist St George Art Award

Continuing on from my previous post about my trip to Central Australia a few of us rose early one morning to catch the sunrise at a hill behind our camp at Ross River.

The light was something very special and as the sun peeped over the Macdonnell Ranges it sent out its first rays illuminating the river into a sparkling sliver of light.  So when I arrived back home, it was one of the memories that had to be painted.
24 x 24 inches (61 x 61cm)
Oil on Canvas
The 2012 St George Art Award is a national prize which has the theme of "New Beginnings". My painting capturing the start of a unique new day fitted well with this criteria. Fortunately it has been chosen as a finalist for the prize.

The prize will be announced on Friday 19 October 2012, and the exhibition will commence on Saturday 20 October - Sunday 16 December 2012 at:-
Hurstville Museum and Gallery
14 MacMahon Street
Hurstville  (Tues - Sat  10am to 4pm, Sunday 2-5 pm)

I have just released some new paintings, inckuding these shown below.

Pont des arts paris france oil painting Red PoppiesPainting Nocturnal St James Sydney

These paintings and the other new ones can now be seen at my website

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Reflections at the Edinburgh Castle Corner

Reflections at the Edinburgh Castle Corner
8 x 8 Inches (20 x 20cm)
Oil on Canvas

$175 plus shipping ($14 in Australia and $24 Internationally)

Click here to send me a message if you want to buy
I am becoming very interested in painting the light effects seen in cities. Sydney has experienced its greatest volume of summer rain in over 50 years, which has provided some great light effects in the city streets. The corner of Bathurst & Pitt Streets provides the stage for the light hitting the umbrella.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Simplify - Painting a San Francisco Cityscape

Terry Miura publishes a blog titled "Studio Notes", in which he generously shares his experiences and knowledge on the craft of painting.
A few weeks ago Terry wrote about the need to simplify, i.e. what should a painter leave in or out of a busy scene. I find that "leaving things out" is one of the hardest things that a painter has to decide when constructing a painting. I know that many of my colleagues have the same difficulty.

Terry's approach involves applying rules which helps keep his mind focused and organised. His rules are outlined in his post, however he went on to invite his readers to paint the same photo and respond how we deal with the same problems. Here is my take.
Original Photo

 Stage 1
I like to unify the colours of the painting by painting a base colour. In this case a light burnt orange which will be the complementary colour of the blues of hills and sky. This approach makes it easier to set off cool and warm colours against each other and achieve broken colour in these areas.   I then do a simple drawing cropping information out of the original photo

Stage 2
Paint in the basic tones letting the orange come through. The base colour is also used for the sunlight areas of the buildings. I like the light effect when one can transition the walls of buildings from warm at the top to cool at the bottom (or vice versa). I find that I can also desaturate the intensity of the blue when scumbling it over the orange. I then invent a shadow to unify the foreground into one major shape, and making it a rest area for the viewers eye. I use the photograph and try to not copy it.
5 x 4 inches
Oil on Canvas
Stage 3
Adjust the tones and colour to create distance and build contrast in areas to guide the eye through the painting. My natural inclination is to paint hard edges so I need to spend time going back to soften edges, otherwise the eye will be zooming all over the picture.
It has been a valuable exercise and made me think about how to simplify. Some of these practice are intuitive, but some I need to keep before me to build the habit. The "rules' that I discovered are summarised below. Some are the same as Terrys and some different:-
  1. Use a photo (or a scene) rather than copy it.
  2. Underpaint a base colour to complement the planned main colour.
  3. Crop and draw first to solve design problems before committing to paint.
  4. Leave quiet places for the viewer
  5. Vary edges
Interested in this painting? It may be purchased here