Travels With My Art

A compilation of Chris's humorous and entertaining travelogues, revealing some of the pitfalls and frustrations, as well as the joy of being a professional artist. Hoping that his efforts abroad will continue to bring in a daily crust to continue supporting his family at home!

23 Jul 2011

Plantec Distribution Warehouse

 OK so it’s a factory!

But it’s a commission from a company who wanted a couple of paintings of their holding centres for a new showroom/lobby. So how to make a painting from an unpromising photograph? I enjoyed depicting the smartness of the building front to the right, but keeping a ‘watercolour’ look. The left hand side was relieved by the softness of the hillside behind and greatly helped by the distant church tower, and the red post box on the gates. I created ‘movement’ in the sky to relieve the ‘static’ lines of the warehouse. I might yet put a couple of figures by the vans as it just seems to want something else there. Where does one stop?

I hope they like it!

13 Apr 2011

A Painting of St.Michaels, Duntisbourne Rouse

Last Friday was the most beautiful warm and sunny Spring day so I packed up my paints to seek pastures new, and do some painting ‘en plein air’. I had not been down the Duntisbourne valley before (just west of Cirencester) but with daffodils lining the lanes it was the place to be ‘far from the madding crowd’. 

With mixed results I sat and daubed, but in the afternoon came across this obscure spot, not even signposted from the road. It is a tiny Saxon church with a ‘saddle back’ roof on the tower – it is a bit crooked, it’s not just my painting! It was the most peaceful spot in which to sit and paint, in the shade of an old ivy-clad wall. The valley dropped away to a babbling brook far below, and when the shadows had lengthened too far for me to follow, I found myself reluctant to return once again to the world.

It is well-known that many churches built on sacred pagan sites were dedicated to St. Michael (who legend has it fought with the angels against the devil). I wonder if this were the case here?

St Michael's Church, Duntisbourne Rouse - An Original Watercolour Painting.

Malmesbury Abbey Painting

Why do I like Malmesbury so much? The Abbey surely has much to do with it. I sang there with my choir (Wessex Male Choir) last year, and the atmosphere and acoustics were lovely. But in Spring weather such as we have had recently I decided to ‘get around’ to painting it, as I have intended to ever since we sang there.

A victim of the dissolution of the monasteries, if only there were more of it left, with its soaring spire, but I suppose we should be grateful that what is still there is so beautiful. The empty arches have a poetry and poignancy about them and speak to me of the temporary nature of our lives.

It is a busy architectural subject, so I have tried to keep the colours and shadows soft, as of a bright but hazy Spring morning. Turner painted it beautifully once, from afar, but I’ve not let that put me off!

Malmesbury Abbey - An Original Watercolour Painting

17 Mar 2011

Painting Water and Bridges

This is an unusual subject for me – a bridge on Exmoor, (but do you know which one?) It’s a famous one, and very old. I was commissioned to paint this as a birthday present for someone. I used burnt sienna as a base wash behind much of it which gives it the reddish wintry look. The beech leaves on the ground and in the distant trees seemed to demand it.

The trees were entirely moss covered and green, so no burnt umber or real browns in the painting. Instead Paynes Grey to darken trees, and also to darken the water. So the ‘warmth’ of the colours come from warm blues and grays instead of browns and ochres.  This adds to the more wintry feel of the season than a summer view would give. Sorry about all that technical stuff – but unusual colour scheme for me, but I enjoyed painting it!

Now I’d like to go for a long walk there with my wife Gill & dog Truffle!

21 Feb 2011

The Radcliffe Camera, Oxford

I return to Oxford again and again to paint as I love architectural subjects, and Oxford contains some of the finest buildings in the world. I’m not sure this painting is completely finished yet, but with watercolour it’s usually best to stop while you’re winning, and not overwork a subject. Why the angle chosen in the picture? When you approach Radcliffe Square from the High, through a narrow pedestrian lane, the Camera is suddenly there in front of you, and I wanted to evoke the ‘impact’ it has when you first round the corner and look up.

I’ve just suggested the Bodleian Library in the background. I’m never certain a painting has ‘worked’ when I’ve just finished it, but I certainly enjoyed working on it, and that’s important to me!

The Radcliffe Camera was designed in the English Palladian Style by James Gibbs between 1737 and 1748, and is believed to have been the first circular library to be built in England.

9 Feb 2011

Springtime at Arlington Row, Bibury

Wishful thinking whilst we’re still in February, but I just painted this one for the cover of my ‘Cotswolds in Watercolour 2012’ Calendar, which needs to be printed soon, to be in the shops by Easter.

I’ve painted this view a number of times before, but each time it comes out differently. I had to leave room in sky for the title! Doesn’t it make you long for those days when you can laze on the warm grass in the sunshine, having a nap on the picnic rug.

19 Jan 2011

The High and Queens College, Oxford

It’s usually sunny in my paintings, but here there are people with umbrellas, and the mood is restrained and a little damp! I found a line drawing of this view in a drawer, which I drew many years ago, and realised that I never actually turned it into a painting.

I only used two colours in this; yellow ochre, and cobalt blue. They give an interesting scale of blue, and grey greens to gold. I love the architecture on the High, and the muted colours suit the feeling of a wet day.

Original Watercolour Painting of Oxford for Sale.

18 Jan 2011

Chipping Campden in Snow

The recent snow has inspired me to paint a number of snowscenes, and in this depiction of the Almshouses in Chipping Campden, I am revisiting a scene I have painted before. This is partly to contribute to an ‘Artist’s Guide to the Cotswolds’ on which I am working, and hope to finish in a month or so.

It will be a sort of souvenir guide, but instead of photos it will have paintings and line drawings, as well as my own personal commentaries on the towns and villages. It’s an exercise in concise English as there are so many places in the Cotswolds which must be included. I have not put any figures in this picture, as I wanted it to be serene and uspoilt, like the snow before anyone has appeared and messed it up with footprints! 

Cotswold Paintings and Watercolours by Chris Fothergill


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