Moving to the outside world

I have studiously avoided painting outside for most of my painting career.  When I was a Saturday morning and foundation student at Camberwell, I got into the habit of sketching people as I stood at a bus stop or sitting on a tube. Anywhere I could be fairly inconspicuous and not really be notice. Even if I was noticed, people would look, maybe make a comment and go on. Until one day in Church Market,London NW8, some woman noticed I was sketching an old man directly in front of me. Well, seemingly it was her Dad and by sketching him I was stealing his soul?  Obviously I stopped drawing him as the woman was clearly upset, so I moved on. However, that wasn’t enough for her. She then proceeded to stand/jump in the way of anything I might want to sketch. She was also becoming verbally abusive so I decided then I was finished and I have never really felt comfortable sketching outside, let alone painting outside.

Anyway,  I have decided I need to get back outside to get inspiration as I am quite a homebody.  So, this week, I did a small painting (12×12) in our back garden which is not terribly inspiring but its a start. One of the thing you have to learn to contend with in the summer in Texas, the heat. When I got up this morning it was 75F(24c) and by the time I stopped painting at 2.15pm, it was 91f (33f), so its important to use the sunscreen and wear a hat. I am not that dynamic in the morning, so for the Thurs/Fri it was about 10.30 before I got out. Today, I managed to be out by 9.30.  As is normal I was using acrylics.




This was the result for my first day as I had numerous stops and starts, scrubbing out several starts mainly due to lack of confidence. First issue was, what do I paint, what do I focus on? Fortunately I was in my garden so not a lot of options but in the brief times I have consider landscape before, that has been my biggest hurdle, where do I start?

One of my issues is to focus on a part and not the whole. By doing that I am creating more work for myself as once I finished on that part, it was at odds with the rest! So I would work on the windows and then remember, boy there is all that other space to work on as well.  As you can see I can draw a straight line to save myself. Photographic painting (which I don’t particularly like anyway) will never be my forte.  Anyway day 2 was not a lot better but at least I didn’t give up as I am apt to.





Today, I was determined that whatever the outcome, it would be the last day. I worked mainly on the windows and walls. I don’t know why but I decided I was going about the windows entirely the wrong way. I should forget about the frame and work back to the reflections. By focusing on the windows, I could see there were at least 3 if not 4 levels before I could even consider the frame. I don’t think I mastered it but it was closer than yesterday. The walls were difficult and I know I could do better. Our walls are very light coloured but obviously this is a covered area so even though they are light, they are also dark compared to the outside wall. Also how do you depict a brick wall. It’s tempting to paint in every brick but not practical. Not painting any indication of the brick would also not work. I never did solve the issue!




Finish piece. Most admit I quite enjoyed the challenge despite the heat.

Next time, I am going to try oil paints as acrylics just dry too quickly. I would mix up a colour and as I was using it, the paint was drying.I suppose I could use an extender but it’s not something I am use to doing, so I would probably forget most of the time. However, I haven’t used oils since my foundation years as basically they scare me to death as there appears to be lot of rituals involved in oil paints LOL and I hate the smell. I am sure I can get over the smell and as for the rituals, I will ignore them. Also mean using gloves as I tend to get contact dermatitis when using them, the original reason I started using acrylics

Whilst I am learning, I am going to stick to small canvases or boards. I thought  12×12 was small but really it was probably a little big for my ability or maybe I should use large board so I don’t get so stuck with the minute details?

Time limits  I think this would be a good option so I don’t get bogged down in the details.

What is the aim of all this figure and landscape work, just observation, as I have seriously stopped doing in the past 20 years. Without this simple ability, I will never move onto the next stage. What will be the next stage? Have no idea but not trying, will get me no where.