This is a painting of firsts… starting with the amazing weather. We’ve waited a long time for summer, and it was a joy to be out painting this evening.
My order of gessoed plywood boards from Zecchi arrived this morning and I wanted to try them out. I toned this one with a wash of Burnt Sienna, which is a ground tint that I haven’t worked on before either. I usually use a bone grey for portraiture, but I thought this hot earth tint would be a good experiment for warm evening light. I toned a few boards, so I’ll certainly know whether I like this ground by the time I’ve used them all. I have a sneaking suspicion that a desaturated grey will ultimately suit me better, but today the Burnt Sienna suited the scene.
I love the Gloucestershire village of Eastleach, and we often walk the dogs there. I wanted to find a stretch of river off the beaten track, and so we followed a footpath in a new direction and discovered some stunning countryside that was teeming with wildlife. I wanted to have a go at painting water within a landscape, which I was thinking would be another good first. The part of the river I stopped at is definitely not what could be described as a raging torrent – more a glorified puddle – but very pretty, with pebbles and stones picking out a path across.
The boards are very smooth, more so than I am used to. The hog brushes I used for a basic lay-in slid paint around quite a bit, and I had to move to sables much sooner than I usually would. In fact, I almost gave up several times and considered wiping the whole lot off. It is very broadly painted, which has given it a sense of spontaneity, and when I returned to the studio to clean up and placed the panel on the other side of the room, I saw that from a distance it carries really well. I’m glad I persevered. I have ended up being quite happy with the results.
Having lived in Gloucestershire, England for most of her life, Helen Davison Bradley (b. 1974) graduated with a degree in Fine Art from Cheltenham & Gloucester College in 1998. For many years she ran her own successful graphic / website design studio, until deciding to embark upon a career as a figurative painter in 2010.
Find out more about the artist here: