Saturday 28 September 2019

This Weeks Paintings

I expect many will be sick of my puny efforts but I'm just a hobby painter folks so there it is. (I'm only half joking!). 

"Green Man" (1) 16" x 12"

Green Man (2) 16" x 12"

I painted another green man a while back, still have the  painting and like it. The 'Green Man' is linked with old religious pagan practices and there are "Green Man'  head sculpted images in many churches and elsewhere. Each year a large music festival takes place at Crickhowell, within the Brecon Beacons,  Wales. The most recent subject at my art group was 'World Culture'. I wasn't enamoured with this and scratched my head as what to do. Then I hit on the 'green man' thing. It isn't just men as women also dress up in these bizarre green costumes, adorned with leaves, ivy and other green vegetation, as well as painting faces etc green.  It must take them hours to arrange this getup. I know many artists shun greens but it doesn't bother me. I used several greens in the paintings as I have many of those available. This probably sounds like a cop out but when I look at them on the blog or Facebook something seems to be lost between being photographed and transposed to the blog and Facebook.

Friday 20 September 2019

More of My Paintings

These are this weeks batch. The portrait is an experimental approach(!)

"The Sadness of the Amerindian" 16" x 12" Lunar Black (PBk11) & Lunar Earth (PBk11)

I am very interested, although I've done nothing about it yet, in the new product Liquid Charcoal and particularly Stephie Butlers paintings using it with one or two watercolours. Some say you can get the same result by crushing charcoal and mixing it with various fluids - gum  arabic was suggested, and the local art shop said linseed oil. I'll have to experiment. I do like paintings done with charcoal the only real downside it is very messy. 

Sometime ago I bought the Lunar colours made by Daniel Smith which are very granular. I haven't done anything much with them but thought that - maybe - the Lunar Black might, just might, give a similar effect. This paint has gone hard in the tube and this is happening to some of my paints that I've had for a longish time. Previously I've tended to throw them away, but prices are now so extortionate that cutting open the tube and using the hard paint as though it were a pan seems the way to go. I did this with the Lunar Black and it works. I don't however use my newer expensive sable brushes except for the 'small areas of detail', but older ones that have been replaced. The actual painting , it seems in my eyes, to be better than it appears above. Still painting is all about opinion with one mans meat another mans poison.

"Breakfast (1) Approx 16" x 12"

I feel the flowers are overworked on this one.

Breakfast (2) Approx. 16" x 12"

The two paintings above were done as the subject this week at my Art Group was Birds, Butterflies and Insects.

Monday 16 September 2019

Latest Paintings

I'm completing three or four a week at the moment, admittedly fairly simple subjects.  Here they are.

"Sunflowers" 16" x 12"

"Avocet " 16" x 12"

"Butterfly" approx. 12" x 9"

Black-capped Chikadee" approx. 12" x 9"

Thursday 12 September 2019

Winslow Homer 1836 - 1910 By John Softly

It wasn’t until he was 37 years old did Winslow Homer apply himself to watercolours a medium of which he later remarked “You will see, in the future I will live by my watercolours”.

His mother Henrietta Benson Homer, herself a talented artist, obviously nurtured the young Winslow in drawing and the arts and he was sufficiently proficient to be employed by John Bufford and Sons in their lithography workshop as an illustrator. His first work there was illustrating  sheet music covers.
Moved to New York in 1859, continues free lance work until 1862 when he was with the Union Army in Virginia illustrating the Civil War for Harpers Weekly.
In 1873 Homer was in Houghton Farm and Gloucester, Massachusetts and painted his first watercolour series. 

Winslow Homer with his 1899 oil "The Gulf Stream"

The Berry Pickers 1873

Watching the Harbour 1873

Sailing the Catboat 1873

Prior to the late 1860’s there was little incentive for artists to paint in watercolour as it was considered a medium for sketching and preparatory work for larger oil works only and rarely attracted the attention of collectors. Watercolours gained respectability with the founding of the  American Society of Painters in Water Colours and more artists started to paint in the medium, their smaller size and cheaper price started to find acceptance with collectors. 
Homers early work was mainly images of local children and the sizes were usually small (8 x14”). He was working as an illustrator and his paintings reflected the techniques required for the wood engraver.
Gouache was used and it allowed him to treat the medium similar to oils - building the painting from dark to light.
Throughout his career Homer used a Whatman paper and Winsor and Newton pigments in a W& N box containing 20 full pans.
His basic palette contained colours that have long since been deleted from the W& N catalogue but some of those used by Homer the names of which remain the same today, although not necessarily their chemical composition , are :-
Burnt Umber
Prussian Blue
Indian Yellow
Cadmium Yellow
Dark Green
Hookers Green

The New Novel 1877

Fresh Air 1878

Harrowing 1879

Homer gravitated to the quieter areas of the planet and throughout his life he visited the Adirondack Mountains fishing, hunting and painting the pioneer characters of the areas eight times for extended stays. In 1875 he paid his first visit to Prout’s  Neck, a small fishing village in southern Main where he eventually settled permanently.
He painted in his studio on the top floor of the building and gone were the figurative studies of the female form but instead nature and the wild Maine Coast .
Had Winslow Homer never picked up a watercolour sable his reputation in the American Art scene would have been assured due to two oil paintings he did in 1884 an 1899.“The  Life Line” and “The Gulf Stream” are two dramatic marine subjects the former of which resulted, in part, to his 20 month stay in Cullercoats in the north of England where he lived among the fisherfolk of the area depicting their every day life in watercolours.

The Lifeline 1884 Oil

The Gulf Stream 1889 Oil

This visit to England and in particular Cullercoats set Homer on the road to a successful career in watercolour.

Why Homer picked the Tyneside village of Cullercoats for his stay in England has never been ascertained, although there  were many artists colonies painting the fishing villages, particularly in  the north of England. The distinctive fishing boats of the area called cobles, a design specific to the area since the sixth century, have attracted artists over the years and still does today.

Afterglow 1883

Mending the Nets 1882

Returning Fishing Boats 1883

Inside the Bar 1883

A Voice from the Cliffs 1883

Another American painter, John Singer Sargent, who was in England at this time was painting portraits of corseted society ladies in their silks and satins, whereas Homer was depicting the robust fisherfolk of Cullercoats their women sans corsets, silks and satin.
Homers palette, at this time, took on a more subdued appearance more in the nature of the English artists and design was more to the forefront than colour.
Some criticism was levelled at the subdued colours of this period. Greys, browns and blacks with an overall cast of purple but in reality the north of England is a place of subdued colours - especially in winter.  
 There were no absence of models and he even purchased manikins, dressing  them in the local attire but it was only locals he was interested never tourists and holidaymakers.
Maggie Jefferson, Homer’s  most important model, was a fifteen year old red head whom he paid one shilling a sitting and was the subject of dozens of watercolours and drawings.

Maggie Jefferson

He sent 51 watercolours to his dealers in Boston. Half the paintings were sold almost immediately and although later works bear little resemblance to the Cullercoats works Homer’s reputation was established.
He initially intended to stay at Cullercoats for three months during the summer but he extended his stay a further 17 months.
Homer had always liked isolation and on his return to America gravitated to Prout’s Neck on the north coast, adjacent to Portland where he had spent several summers with his family. Only a few fishermen and farmers lived there.
His dramatic painting “The Life Line” was completed in 1884 and was a result of seeing a breeches buoy being used in Atlantic City. The atmospheric watercolours produced in Cullercoats would have helped with this monumental oil painting.
Almost every year he took a fishing trip. Adirondacks or Quebec in the summer - Florida in the winter. His oils were worked up in the studio but the trips were for watercolours all produced with speed and spontaneity.
In 1884 Century Magazine commissioned Homer to illustrate an article it was planning on Nassau.
The Bahama natives, although a world apart from those in Cullercoats had similar work ethics. Whereas in Tyneside the men plied the North Sea for cod and other cold water fish, those in the Bahamas searched the Caribbean for sponges. Once the product was landed the women took over with preparing and getting it to market
The seas around Nassau were relatively calm as opposed to Cullecoats, but conditions for the sponge collectors were non the less as arduous for the Bahaman men as they were for the 'Geordies'. Homer ignored the tourists and local hot spots preferring to depict the colourful women and  sponge divers.
He also seemed to have a fixation on sharks and painted several watercolours of the creatures cumulating in the 1899 oil “The Gulf Stream”.
During the year Homer and his father were in Nassau they were entertained by the Colonial Governor, Sir Henry Blake and Lady Blake herself, an amateur watercolourist. At a fancy dress party the Blake children were dressed in Arabian costume and Lady Blake asked Homer to paint the children in costume.
The painting which was not framed eventually ended up in County Cork, Ireland. and was mistakenly considered to be the work of Lady Blake.
Fast foreword to 1987 when a fisherman found the painting along with works by Lady Blake outside a rubbish dump some three miles from the Blake family home, Myrtle Grove in Youghal.
The fisherman gave the painting to his daughter who, in 2008, took it to to a recording of Antiques Roadshow where Phillip Mould identified it as a Homer and valued it at £30,000.
It was then the subject of an episode of the TV programme Fake or Fortune, was flown to New York to be sold by Sotheby’s who, confirmed that it was the work of Homer and valued it at over £100,000.
The day before the sale the great grandson of Sir Henry Blake claimed the painting.  The legal wrangling goes on to this day and is too involved  to relate here but I  refer the reader to Wikipedia under the heading of “Children Under a Palm”. 
 As with the Cullercoats works the Bahama watercolours focus on the local population but the weather conditions couldn’t be different.

Cabins, Nassau 1885

Sponge Fishing 1885

The Coral Divers 1885

The drama of Cullercoats is missing and Homer’s washes are more transparent and the white of the paper he uses to great effect.
During the 1885 Bahama visit Homer did many sketches of derelict boats presumably in 
preparation for “The Gulf Stream”which was completed four years later.
Homer left the Bahamas for a five week stay in Santiago, Cuba and did eighteen watercolours, complained about heat, late breakfasts, scorpions and very bad smells. Returning to Prouts Neck and thence to Florida a State he visited seven times, but only three of these trips working on watercolours.
The main attraction, apart from the warmer weather in winter was the fishing.

Coconut Palms Key West 1886

In a Florida Jungle 1886

A Norther 1886

Back in Prout’s Neck Homer continued to paint watercolours of local subjects seascapes, fishermen, women on the shore and on land and farm boys at work.

Among the Vegetables 1887

With this painting it can be seen the Homer’s palette had become brighter wth less browns and greys. The seascapes, however, are not represented as much as the Atlantic coast scenes were more suited to the heavier medium of oils.
Homer’s Adirondacks visit in 1899 to 1900 combined watercolour, fishing and hunting. His preference for fishing locations and outdoor activities is well documented, but looking at his watercolour output one would think he lead a solitary life when in the backwoods. Nothing could be further from the truth.
He was a part of a group of influential bankers, industrialists, attorneys and judges. Former President Cleveland described the group as “The Fishing Fraternity”. “Nothing to do with those who fish for a livelihood” “those of us who fish in a fair, well bred and reasonable way, for the purpose of recreation and as a means of increasing the table pleasures of ourselves and our friends”.
This fraternity was amongst the most enthusiastic collectors of his watercolours and his depiction of leaping fish (which to me never seemed realistic) and deer being pursued by dogs with their final demise, draped over a log. Of the 87 paintings Homer did of the Adirondacks the depiction of leaping trout and dead deer pale into insignificance against the pioneer , woodsman, fishing and canoe watercolours of the time.

The Woodcutter 1891

Boy Fishing 1892

The Blue Boat 1892

Homer returned to the Bahamas in 1898 of which he said “I think the Bahamas the best place I have ever found”.
The two months he spent in Nassau resulted in 25 watercolours the subjects of which were similar to those he painted in 1885 - 1885.

After the Hurricane 1889

Bermuda Settlers 1901

The last series of watercolours that Winslow Homer did was in Florida.
He was very vocal about the quality of fishing in Key West and Homosassa.
“As many as thirteen different species of salt water fishes have been taken with artificial fly by one rod in a mornings outing”.
1904 saw another trip to Florida and this trip was purely a fishing trip but resulted in his last watercolour - echos of Cullercoats albeit in warmer climes but none the less dramatic.

Diamond Shoal 1905

Homer died in 1910 at the age of 74.
Winslow Homer’s watercolours spanned a period of more than three decades and for good reason he is considered “The Poet of the Sea”. I usually source my articles from various sources but in this instance I have used only one.
The definitive book on Winslow Homers watercolours by Helen A Cooper (ISBN 0-300-0-3695-7) is a book anyone with more than a passing interest in his watercolours should own.

May I give my sincere thanks to my friend John for the time and effort he has put in to produce this excellent article on Winslow Homer

Monday 9 September 2019

My Latest Paintings

Here are the most recent paintings of mine. All 16" x 12" Just my work.

Cape Buffalo with little friend -Can you see him?


Second try at Highland Cattle

'Big Ears"

Even Bigger Ears! Fenenc Fox Korea

Ringed Plover

Monday 2 September 2019

Watercolour Paintings 58

Here are Septembers batch of watercolour paintings. I think all are watercolours but cannot be absolutely certain with some of the artists I don't know. Also the names of the artists should be correct but mistakes are possible. Corrections welcome. Hopefully there is something for everybody. Several of these artists are new to me. While I like a broad range of watercolours, with a preference towards 'loose' and impressionistic ones, what I try and do here is display as wide a range as possible not necessarily because they are all to my personal taste. The intention is also to show what is possible with watercolour.

Charles Reid

Ogden Pleissner

Milind Mullick

Bev Jozwiak

Boon Kwang Noncharoen

Yuko Nagayama

Morten E Solberg Snr - slightly different to Mortens wildlife paintings.

Another from Lucy Newton
Andy Evansen

John Yardley - I believe this is a recent one. Yardley is now in his early eighties.

Corneliu Dragan-Targoviste

Ng Woon Lam

Roberto Andreoli

Igor Sava

Alison Garlin

Marc Folly

Hla Thida Win

Barbara Flowers

Barnaba Salvador

Lucy Newton - I love this artists work, See the tree creeper at the near top left.

Yong Hong Zhong

Rachel Mc Naughton