Friday 28 December 2012

Avebury Sheep

Way back in 2007, when my daughter was still learning to walk (it must have been spring), I took her to Avebury, with her pushchair. I also took an old-school 35mm SLR loaded with monochrome film.

My photographs weren't all what you'd call stunning; in fact, the source for this painting was a little underwhelming, technically. I think I got the exposure wrong. But the composition worked, I thought; and I loved the two lambs sheltering in the lee of the stone. And there was enough information to make a painting... if you ignored the fact that there were no colours.

So I made the colours up. Based on what I remembered, and what I knew...

I remembered that the stones were reddish. I looked them up: they are sarsens. Sarsens are sandstone (which explains some of the weathering). Sandstone varies quite a lot in colour, but does tend towards the red and the yellow.

This post has been republished with an improved photograph of a slightly improved painting (I have darkened the shadows on and around the foreground lambs).

Oil on canvas, 55 x 46 cm
27 December 2012
For sale

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Porthleven from the Beach

I wasn't expecting to get the opportunity to paint yesterday, but I did. So I did.

This is based on a selection of photographs taken at Easter in 2010, when it was gloriously warm and sunny. They weren't intended to be a panoramic view (they just happened to join up), and I did remove a number of people, including, um, some in  the foreground. I didn't include quite all of the seaweed, either.

The church on the seafront is, I think, quite distinctive; it certainly says "Porthleven" to me.

Oil on canvas, 55 x 33 cm
25 December 2012

Tuesday 25 December 2012

Autumn Skye

This is a commission, completed mid November this year; but as it was intended as a Christmas present, I have scheduled the post for Christmas day.

I was asked to paint a family pet, a Cocker spaniel. Slightly reluctant to produce a standard "pet portrait", I suggested placing the animal in the landscape. This seemed to go down well, so I went for a walk with the owner and her dog.

Blurred, hasty shots of a moving dog aside, the trickiest aspect of this approach turned out to be scale. The
downs were just Too Big (and in the wrong place - or perhaps it was just that our path didn't provide any suitable foregrounding opportunities), but the trees - still hanging on to their autumn leaves - provided a colourful alternative.

In-progress sequence showing the acrylic
underpainting and two stages of the oil painting.

Oil on box canvas, 50 x 50 cm
18 November 2012

Friday 21 December 2012

Perranuthnoe Beach, 7 x 5"

A rather small, sketchy painting made with the left-over paint from Waves Breaking... (and making use of one of the leftover source photographs). Again, it's represented by a photograph taken under artificial light.

Oil on canvas panel, 7 x 5"
20 December 2012
For Sale

Waves Breaking on Perranuthnoe Beach, Cornwall

First of all, forgive the photograph; it was taken under artificial light. I still haven't seen this painting in daylight.

I painted this on a linen canvas that had been prepared with a transparent gesso. You can see the natural colour of the linen. It seemed a shame not to do something with this fact, so I deliberately skimmed the paint so that there were areas where the canvas is still visible. At the bottom of the painting, the canvas' brown surface is the sand; at the top, it is a reminder of the painting as object.

I used a different palette for this, too; two earth colours (Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna), two blues (Ultramarine and Phthalo Blue), and Titanium White.

Based on a photograph from April 2012. Painted yesterday (20 December 2012).

Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 cm
For Sale

Thursday 20 December 2012

Granite Gate Post, Cornwall

A disused granite post nestles in the hedgerow on a hillside above Helston.

I took the source photograph in August this year; I made the painting this past weekend as a birthday gift. I started the painting under artificial light on Saturday evening - and had thought it was finished - but was disappointed with the colours in the cold light of morning. The greens were decidedly too flat and too blue. It was almost a if I had used Viridian (a dark, bluish green) straight from the tube! (In actual fact, I mixed my greens - and everything else - from Phthalo Blue, Lemon Yellow, Process Magenta and Titanium White*.) The stone was lacking warmth, too.

So I took a bit of time on Sunday morning jollying up the colours.

Acrylic on canvas panel, 5x7"
16 December 2012
Painted as a gift
*This is my current acrylics version of the oils palette described in a previous post.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Trevarno Halt

Here's another image from the Helston Railway. It's the bridge adjacent to their first and former station at Trevarno... it's a long story.

Watership Down in the Snow: Framed

I chose a green frame for Watership Down in the Snow. Well, a grey-green. It's Farrow & Ball's Lichen, as supplied to me by Moonshine framing in Penzance. The idea was to pick out the green tint of the valley floor under its melting snow.

I've used this image as my Christmas card this year.

Happy Christmas!

Monday 17 December 2012

Stormy Poppies: Framed

It took me a while to frame it (even after I was in possession of the frame), but here is the very first Poppy painting in its Pavilion Gray Driftwood frame. (Pavilion Gray is the colour - it's a interior decoration paint made by Farrow & Ball. I didn't paint the frame; I ordered it in that colour.)


Sunday 16 December 2012

Godrevy Summer 2009 - SOLD

A Godrevyscape with sunshine! Unlike the other Godrevy paintings, this isn't based on a photograph from New Year's Day. It was sunny when I took the photographs (on 35mm film) that this painting was based on - and getting towards the end of the day, as is evident from the pink tinge to the clouds. It must have been quite warm, still, because the people on the rocks are wearing swimming costumes. 

Oil on canvas, 20 x 16"
15 December 2012


Friday 14 December 2012


When artists talk about palettes, they mean one of two things: either the thing they mix their colours on, or the range of colours that they use in a painting.

This post is about the colours.

Grey Wethers and Black Bullocks

I couldn't resist calling these beasts bullocks, despite there being no absolute evidence to support this, and me being sufficiently unfamiliar with bovine appearance to say for certain that these are male animals.

Why is this?

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Godrevy 5

Photograph under artificial lightPhotograph in late afternoon light
A bit more of Gwithian beach, a bit more of Godrevy Point - and the lighthouse can still be seen beyond the point. This is another painting based on my photographs from New Year's day 2012; you may be glad to hear that I've located some other photographs (from the summer of 2009) that may form the basis of my next Godrevyscape.

Sunday 9 December 2012


Dipsacus is the genus name of the plants also known as teasels, teazles or teazels. Here, they are growing in a large puddle or small pool on Greenham Common, upon which the wind has created some nice ripples on the surface. Another small, quick painting.

Oil on canvas, 7 x 5"
For Sale 

Saturday 8 December 2012

Greenham Reflection: Spotted Bullock

Greenham Common is particularly wet at the moment. There are a number of ponds, pools and (possibly) lakes (I'm not sure how big a body of water has to be before it is called a lake) that are always there. There are also a lot of big puddles that occasionally dry up - if we have a hot, dry summer.

Godrevy 4

I went back to my photographs again for this commissioned fourth version of the popular seascape off Gwithian beach, with a view of Godrevy lighthouse.

Oil on canvas, 41 x 33 cm
SOLD (with a frame on order from Moonshine)

Friday 7 December 2012

Cottington's Mug

My new mug arrived yesterday. It's a wraparound design, with a detail from Cottington's Poppies on it.

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Puddings: four old paintings

Apple and Blackberry Crumble
Pear and Almond Tart
Peach Melba
Lemon Meringue Pie
I gave these four paintings away many years ago, but I did photograph them first. I happened upon the prints at the weekend, and thought that maybe you might like to see them. The photography isn't brilliant, despite the fact that I was using a (film) SLR on a tripod.

The paintings are all oil on 7 x 5" canvas - done with a brush and solvents! - and were done in October 2002.

Monday 3 December 2012

The Big Book of Landscape Paintings

I've just "published" another book. It's a BIG book, and is loosely based around Places That I Have Lived In and (made paintings of). Those of you missing the Cornish landscapes will, I am afraid, have to wait until I have enough suitable paintings for a second book of landscapes.

Adventures with a ...
By Amanda Bates

Sunday 2 December 2012

Dinghies @ Gillan - SOLD

Location: Gillan Creek, Helford River, Cornwall

I like the idea of boats better than the reality of (being in) them. The photograph that this painting was based on was taken on the same day that I painted "From the Herra" en plein air in oils. The painting was made on Friday; it was the first time for a while that I have tried to make a whole knife painting in acrylics (rather than adding foreground detail to a brushed background) - although I did sign it with a brush.

I was expecting to be able to make cleaner contrasts more easily - which is one of the reasons that I chose this image - and it was, indeed, so. I think it worked fairly well. My next experiment with knives and acrylics will be to attempt a subject more similar to the ones that I favour in oils.

Acrylic on canvas, 41 x 33 cm
30 November 2012

Skyline 2: green field, May

This is bigger and less yellow than the first Skyline painting, and the trees are both barer and clearer. It's also from a different viewpoint - further along the path, higher up the hill, and closer to the trees.

Yellow 7x5

This painting resulted from an attempt to use up a big blob of yellow (and sundry other colours) on my palette after completing Skyline 2 and Misty Nuthangar. Of course, it didn't work that well, because I had to add a few other colours to finish this - so I painted Godrevy 7x5, too.

By which time, it was definitely time to stop.

Saturday 1 December 2012

Godrevy 7x5 - SOLD

I went back to my photographs for this, a small, quick, using-up-the paint rendition of New Year's day 2012 at Gwithian (with a view of Godrevy lighthouse).

Misty Nuthanger

Nuthangar Down is the slope coming down to the west of Watership Down. The road winds up through the pass between that hill and the one that becomes Ladle Hill in a remarkably picturesque fashion. I've often admired the wooded slopes, and, one misty morning in late September, I stopped my car to grab a few photographs.

This is a rather small rendition of one of those shots in paint.

Oil on canvas, 7 x 5"
27 November 2012
For Sale

New Forest Heather 5 - Blasted Tree

Blasted TreeFinished

I started off by telling myself that I was just going to do the sky... but then there was too much blue left, so I made it into green ... and purple ... and before I knew it the painting had progressed to this stage and it was way past bedtime.

In progress
(artificial light)

It took a couple of days before I was able to find the time to work on it again, but eventually I did, and this is the result. The photography, of course, took even longer; domestic artificial light doesn't work very well with my rudimentary set-up, so I had to wait for the weekend. 

Oil on canvas, 55 x 46 cm
26 November 2012

Tuesday 20 November 2012


Meet Barnacle, the Lifeboat bear. He usually sits on my car dashboard, but yesterday, during my son's guitar lesson, I let him sit on the steering wheel.

Derwent Drawing, cropped from A4

Sunday 18 November 2012

Copyright Issues: Who owns the copyright to a painting?

Let's leave aside the copyright issues that might be involved in making a painting (I touched upon those in a previous post concerning map data); what about the painting itself? (And let's simplify matters even further by only considering the UK.)

If an artist sells a painting, who owns the copyright?

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Cornet in oil pastel

My son has recently started learning to play the cornet. It's a beautiful instrument - and it's rented, so, just in case it turns out to be a flash in the pan, I felt the need to make a picture of it. Oil pastels seemed like a good compromise between painterliness and time, so they got used first.

Sennelier oil pastel on Daler-Rowney oil pastel paper (A4)

Monday 12 November 2012


"Skyline" - new photograph, taken in daylight
There's a lovely ridge very near here where the field sweeps up to a horizon that plays host to a number of trees. It's a subject I keep eyeing up from the footpath, and I have a large collection of photographs of it in all seasons. This painting is based on a photograph taken one evening in July, with the wheat almost ripe and the sky ominously laden with cloud.

Sunday 11 November 2012

Bromley Tetraptych Edges

It occurred to me that, while I took the
photographs a while back, I haven't
shown you the edges of the Bromley 
Four (that's the East Street Tetraptych).

So here they are.

Clockwise from top: tops, rights,
bottoms and lefts.

Saturday 10 November 2012

Minifigures on Canvas: Updated edition

There were a few typographic errors in the first edition (which is now a collector's piece, naturally), so I have corrected them and uploaded a revised version of my LEGO book to Blurb.

You can look at it on Blurb's web site, and I also have a number of copies on order.

The Railway Hotel - Better Photographs

A slightly better photograph of the whole painting, taken in subdued daylight, and - below - a couple of close-up shots that worked out quite well.


This is the concourse at Bromley North railway station. It was shut the day that I was there, so I took photographs through the metal grille, and it is those photographs that I used to work this image up.

Thursday 8 November 2012

New Page: A Day in Bromley

I've collected all of The Bromley Project paintings that I've made so far together on one page. It's called "A Day in Bromley," because that's the origin of the images - a single glorious day in August.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

The Railway Hotel, Bromley

This is a pub with a history, with famous clientele (I am told that Ernest Hemmingway, H.G.Wells and David Bowie have all drunk here, although not, one imagines, all at the same time) and a reputation as a live venue (as can be seen in the small acrylic I made in September, reproduced below.)

Friday 2 November 2012

Return to Helston Rails

My painting of the railway track near Trevano has found a virtual home on the Helston Railway's own Web site. A very warm welcome to you if you arrived by train, and here, for your convenience, is that very painting:
(Click on the painting to read the original post.)