Lockdown for me meant very little painting... in fact almost no painting at all for 3 months. So when I eventually got round to thinking about doing something this painting literally fell out of my head!
Bruised sky has been created with oils and a medium called cold wax. Cold wax is used at room temperature, without heat, and when combined with oil paints can be used to produce atmosphere and depth to a painting. The layering of transparent colours and the blending techniques I have developed have helped to create the atmosphere and drama in this painting.
I started to use cold wax in my work a number of years ago to try and develop more of an abstract style whilst retaining the atmosphere you normally see in my landscapes. I now feel that I have come full circle with my latest collection of work which is more representational.
Bruised sky is inspired by the Airedale valley in Yorkshire. It's not a true depiction of the valley but is inspired by many journeys between Skipton and Saltaire. Big rushing skies, sodden pea-green fields, and the sweep of a road (or is it a canal?) down into the valley. This is Yorkshire!”
So let me walk you through how I created Bruised Sky.
I needed some sort of reference point to work from but at the same time I didn't want to recreate an exact replica of a landscape from photos or sketches. With cold wax I have tended to paint based on memories of a place but this painting I needed some reference to ensure that the sky in particular was dramatic enough. I took a bunch of photos of clouds that I had taken and sketched up some shapes of valleys and land and used those as a starting point. I didn't start out to paint Airedale valley but I took cues from the painting as it progressed.
I had primed my board and also given it a base layer of red acrylic so that I had a nice bold colour to start off with. I then started putting down my lights and darks.
This is where it starts to get messy as I move the colours around until I am happy with the shapes. I am mainly using a squeegee for this part of the process along with a brayer.
Once I am happy with my shapes I then start with my blending techniques to refine those shapes. I'll keep adding colours for depth and lights to help give the clouds shape. At this point I am only working on the sky and I am using palette knives and fan brushes.
Now I am happy with the sky I start to work on the foreground. Again making sure I am happy with the shapes, where the lights and darks are before adding in the details. It's at this point I am starting to get the idea that this is feels like the Airedale Valley and with a sweep of a brush I create the road heading down towards Keighley.
More detail is added to create the fields, trees and the final highlights to the sky.
It doesn't end there as many photographs were then taken of this painting as I had decided that this would be my main image for my 2021 calendar. I also wanted to be able to create limited edition prints of this image so lots of printers proofs to check before it could be made available.
If you want to see Bruised sky in the flesh then head over to Hawksby's in Haworth from 1 October until end of November 2020.