After following along with painting tutorials, learning new skills and getting excited to develop your own painting practice, it can feel like a step into the unknown when trying to choose what subjects to paint next.
Should you paint landscapes, still lifes or work towards portraits? With so many choices it can quickly lead to indecision and procrastination.
I’d like to share with you some of my photos I use as my own visual diary that inspire my sketches, paintings and palette choices. It could be from museums trips or travels to new cities, new paint experimentation’s in my studio or simply a fall of light on a through a window that has a great quality to it.
Just as a painters palette can give you a glimpse into the painter’s approach, your camera roll can reveal what really interests you. The compositions you naturally create, the repeated colours that keep on cropping up and patterns of the negative spaces you’ve observed, all contribute to your own personal style.
Below are a selection of photos with a brief description of what inspired me at the time and this first collection comes from my trips around National Trust properties, focusing on historical kitchens.
Also, I’ll be regularly posting the photo collections to my new Instagram account, really hope you enjoy them.
When I was trying to find my way in portraiture, I’d spend hours studying Old Master paintings thinking “Wow, how did they do that?”
I was flummoxed.
Not only did the skin look realistic, but they’d managed to capture those bluish grey tones that lie just beneath the skin’s surface. In my naivety, I just couldn’t work out how you could paint one colour next to another colour yet create such a smoky transition.
I’d repetitively ask Vanessa, “When will I be able to paint the melt of the cheek you see on the Mona Lisa?”
Unhelpfully she used to say “Isn’t it just old?”
Inwardly I’d sigh.
And then I discovered oil glazing…
When Vanessa suggested a spot of Winter sun, if I’m honest, I dragged my feet.
Locations where being proposed and I politely nodded.
When she casually mentioned a possible trip to Seville, my interest was piqued.
Seville was the birthplace and hometown of Spanish artist Diego Velázquez, and one of my favourite paintings is the ‘Waterseller of Seville’ by Velázquez, but I had never seen it in the flesh, was it even in Seville?
Caught up in the fever of ‘my’ trip, I got researching and discovered the painting was actually hanging much closer to home, in Apsley House, London.
Apsley House? Where’s that?
Well as it turns out, it’s known as Number One London and sits at Hyde Park Corner.
How had I missed it on all my gallery trips and what else was there?
Holy Moly! There’s a study for Pope Innocent X by Velázquez, there’s a Goya, in fact, there’s another portrait by Velázquez and some cracking portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence.
I shouted through to Vanessa ‘Do you fancy a trip to Knightsbridge?‘
Who knew train tickets could be booked so quickly?…
It can seem a tricky subject to capture.
Is it white? Is it blue? How do you paint it to look soft, or darken it without it looking dull?
Having a ‘less is more’ approach to your palette can reflect the colours of Winter absolutely perfectly – without getting complicated.
And the first clue to a convincing Winter snowscape, is the sky…
There was a small sign that hung below an empty black space, it read ‘In Prestito‘.
Last Summer I was back in Florence, Italy, to visit one of my favourite paintings that had enticed me to the city over 10 years ago.
The only problem was, when I got to the gallery, the painting wasn’t there.
It was at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna and I had missed it.
Caravaggio’s sleeping Cupid.