Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Sydney Gardens bridge on a summer afternoon

On sunday the weather was hot and sunny and after a day of tidying and cleaning at the flat I decided to reward myself with a plein air painting at one of my favourite places in Bath: Sydney Gardens. So I jumped on my bike with all my gear, and when I arrived I was greeted with wonderful green reflections on the water and quickly set up by the bridge to do a study:

Sydney Gardens bridge on a summer afternoon   10"x12"  oil on board

I loved the variety of greens on the water and in the trees:

the painting towards the end

As I was painting, a little girl looked at my canvas and shouted at her mother while pointing at the painting "Look mum, that's what I want to be when I grow up!" I almost replied "What? A bridge? A painting?" but she probably wouldn't have found it funny. Joke aside - it is always nice to see some ambition with kids - maybe she'll be the next Picasso.


As you can see below, I set up just before the tunnel. I lost count of the number of kids and people coming from the other side who shouted 'funny' words while in the tunnel to enjoy their own echo, and then, as they came out of the tunnel, looked at me with a bit of embarrassment realising I was there the whole time hearing their vocal performances.

On an other topic, I need to explain that many times I would step back and lay against the wall to have a better look at my painting. And it's only at the end that I realised that every little hole on the wall is actually a spider nest! You should have seen me suddenly shaking like a maniac making sure I didn't have any on me!!


I might enter this painting for the Bath Prize and I hope I'll get an other chance to paint outside before the show. I've worked on a couple of studio paintings too and I'll post these in the next few days...

ps: If you feel this painting reminds you of something, it might be because I did a similar painting at Sydney Gardens a few months ago. It wasn't the same bridge, but actually just the next one after the turning. Click here to see it.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

My favourite painting books

I've just finished Ken Howard's autobiography "Light and Dark" and found it very inspiring (and actually very well written). A great insight into the life of a talented and successful painter with some meaningful thoughts about the Art of painting, the world of Art and about life generally. 

Ken Howard - Autobiography Light and Dark

This gave me the idea to write a post about all my favourite art books, the ones I have in turn on my bedside table; the ones that have the page corners folded for future reference and that are often stained with some paint here and there because they live in the studio and are an eternal source of inspiration. Here is below a (small) selection from my collection: 

First a few painting guides books, great for problem solving:

Alla Prima by Al Gury

Capturing the moment in oils by David Curtis

Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting by John F. Carlson

Oil painting Pure and Simple by Ron Ranson and Trevor Chamberlain

Oil Painting Secrets from a Master by Linda Cateura

And here are my favourite artists books and catalogues: 

Edward Seago - The Landscape Art by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and James W. Reid 

Edward Seago - The Vintage Years by Ron Ranson

Edward Seago by Ron Ranson

Isaak Levitan - Lyrical Landscape by Averil King

Ken Howard - A personal view Inspired by light

Nicolae Grigorescu - Itinéraire d'un peintre romain

Peter Brown - Bath Between the Snows

Peter Brown - Brown's Oil Sketches

Sickert in Venice by Robert Upstone

The Art of Edward Wesson by Ron Ranson

Tom Coates' Exhibition catalogue  - Messum's 2011

The Glasgow Boys by Roger Billcliffe

By looking at this, I realise how "english" my selection is! I might be belgian but I've definitely  embraced the Art of my adoptive country! 

If you have any other books you would recommend feel free to let me know...

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Painting in Bath in July

A few weeks ago, painting pals Tim king and David Pilgrim came to Bath to drop some paintings for the pre-Bath Prize show, so we took the opportunity to meet up and paint together. The weather was rather wet and gloomy, so I must admit I would normally work in the studio instead on such a day, but it's good sometimes to work in conditions you are not used to. For the first painting, we did a small study at Laura Place, trying to get protection from the rain by staying under the trees:

Laura Place in wet July   10"x8"  oil on board

To spice it up a bit, I took the wrong tripod with me so I had to work with the pochade on my laps instead, but it worked quite well as I found a way to tie the box to a string that I wrapped around my waist. Very classy as always.

I liked the reflections on the wet pavement and the soft tones on the Bath stone:

David working hard on his little gem  

Tim painting with passion. Click here to see the finished painting on his blog.

I set up on the floor in the middle

As we were painting, an old man came to have a closer look and started talking to David, observing his work and showing great interest. After what felt like a good 15 minutes, he moved on to Tim and chatted and commented on his work for an equally long time. When he came next to me, I was all ready to give my best speech and be flooded with compliments but he just had a quick look at my work and said "ah", and then walked away. A good lesson of humility!


After a welcome break, a light lunch and litres of hot tea, we returned to the rain for a second and last painting. We ended up at the Circus, one of the most famous landmark in Bath. The view towards Gay Street with the distant hills and the white door at number 1 caught my eyes:

As I was painting this, I wondered who actually lived there. Might be someone rich or famous. After all Nicolas Cage used to own the property just a couple of doors further to the right. He didn't keep the house for long though. The english weather must have put him off...

Number 1, The Circus, Bath   10"x8"  oil on board

Sometimes you get really absorbed in the painting but suddenly have that strange feeling you are being watched. Tim and I turned around and realised we were surrounded by a dozen of tourists that just got off the coach and that were observing every brushstroke we made. No pressure then!


I have been working on more Bath pieces to prepare for the Bath Prize so I will be posting more work soon. Watch this space...