Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours Exhibition - Friday 5 April to Saturday 18 April 2013

Visit the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours annual exhibition at Mall Galleries, London SW1 from Friday 5 April to Saturday 18 April 2013, 10am – 5pm daily. 

The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) is using their annual exhibition to highlight the plight of Britain’s woodlands with the special exhibition Trees & Landscape.

With Ash dieback threatening 80 million ash trees the RI’s exhibition is a celebration of the dwindling trees.
Some of the finest watercolour painters working today have gone out into the woods to capture the dappled light of sun shining through leaves before it is too late.

The annual exhibition is always taken as an opportunity to showcase the diverse range of approaches possible with the endlessly adaptable medium of watercolour. With the introduction of a group theme, the diversity of the medium is really brought to the fore; from Jean Noble’s semi-abstract works, through the impressionistic views of  Roger Dellar and Chris Forsey to the almost photorealistic works by Andy Wood and Ian Sidaway and encompassing Julia Sorrell’s symbolist The Re-Making of the Landscape; Trees & Landscape really shows the possibilities of contemporary watercolour painting.

Alongside the Trees & Landscape exhibition will be the traditional The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours annual exhibition. With over 400 works on display; both by members and by artists replying to the open call for entries, the annual exhibition gives a comprehensive overview of watercolour painting today.

Admission £3, £2.50 Concessions, Free to FBA Friends, National Art Pass holders and under 18s

For those that cannot get to London and see the show about 50% of the exhibition is shown here plus these are available to purchase now. Note: if on a slow connection the above link page has lots of images...

Leaving mountains for the coast... a selection of the latest oil paintings that's being worked on.

With two marine exhibitions ahead, plus the RSMA later in the year, it was time to leave the Fells and Dales of Cumbria and North Yorkshire for a while and head for the coast.

Below is a selection of oil paintings that have been started, two at the drawing up stage while the others have had the base wash or under painting applied.

Minehead on the Somerset coast. The small harbour is below the headland to the right hand side. It was low tide and not many people on the beach.

One of my favourite locations, North Landing which is just above Flamborough Head on the Yorkshire coast. Two of the boats now used to take visitors along the coast to Bempton, famous for the cliffs and the birds at the RSPB reserve. Some great subjects and coastline views can be had by walking along the cliffs both north and south from here

Early morning in St Ives, the hot spot of Cornwall for artists and tourists...

Late afternoon in Beer, Devon.

Another morning and back again in St Ives, Cornwall

Latest oil painting finished...

Detail from "Across the River Brathay to Wetherlam", nr Elterwater, Cumbria.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021327

Having started near the Three Shire Stone at the highest point of Wrynose Pass, just to the right of Wetherlam and flowed through Elter Water, to the right of this view, the River Brathay is quite sedate before it heads to Windermere having passed by Clappersgate and Skelwith Force with the waterfalls and rapids being most impressive after some rain.

Apart from the autumn colours it was the still evening light that attracted me to this view. A little bit of haze helped add something different.

Out with the cold weather gear due to a bitter wind, bands of snow showers with sunny spells inbetween...

Up early this morning to be greeted with a fresh covering of snow...

choose then between:

1. work in the studio
2. go out and get some new reference material

Well the second option won and out I went... it was great in the sunny spells but when the bands of snow came through, white out at times, although the bitter wind never really helped. The snow on the ground didn't really know what to do, one minute it was melting and then freezing which made for some interesting walking at times.

Cold weather clothing - from head to foot:

Head: Apart from when main jacket hood is up...
Possum Fur and Merino Wool Beanie
from Ray Mears by far the best, and warmest, I've tried and thanks to it's design one has four layers in parts and can extend down the back of neck.

Watendlath Beck, Borrowdale, Cumbria - oil painting

Detail from "Autumn morning with frost and lifting fog" Cumbria.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021326

The reference for this oil painting came from a three day trip to Cumbria last autumn. While bitterly cold first thing, the day had promise... having driven through Keswick and alongside Derwent Water in thick fog it didn't look hopeful at that time but having gained some height, by climbing the single track road that headed towards Watendlath, the sky was clear but a heavy frost on the ground. Lots of photographers were set up at surprise view, a well know spot with a view over Derwent Water towards Bassenthwaite and Keswick although it would be two hours later before the fog began to break. I left them to watch the fog and headed further along the road towards Watendlath, which is a small group of farms buildings and cottages beside Watendlath Tarn (all owned by the National trust). This section of Watendlath Beck comes from the tarn and flows down the short valley before heading over Lodore Falls (better after some rain) and then into Derwent Water.

The morning light couldn't have been better and it was hard to select the 'best' view from my wandering up and down both sides of the beck. In the end I spent much longer here than I though I had, or even planned, but ended up with a number of possible paintings gathered.

This painting was done with what may be thought of as method two, number one method being first paint the sky and then paint the trees/leaves over that. In this case most of the tree branch, truck and autumn leaves were painted first and then the sky 'cut' into the previous. Either work, give a slightly different feel and worth a try on your next painting... although best to have some good rigger brushes at hand before starting. In some way most oil paintings employ both methods at some time.

Threadneedle Prize for Painting and Sculpture opens 4 April at 12 noon...

Call for entries to the £30,000 Threadneedle Prize for Painting and Sculpture opens 12 noon 4 April.

You have until 12 noon 4 July to submit strong, topical observations on the world in painting, drawing, original prints, sculpture or installations to the UK’s most valuable prize for a single work of art.

For more info click here

Last call for Portrait Painters... Receiving Days: Friday 15 & Saturday 16 March, 10am-5pm

Royal Society of Portrait Painters (RP)

The RP encourages and showcases new and traditional artistic models and perspectives in portraiture.

Acceptable media: Oil, watercolour, acrylic, pastel, pencil, sanguine, conté and any dry medium. Original prints (please detail edition and how many are available). Work must have been completed within the last two years. We cannot receive pictures taller than 2.4m (8ft).

Conditions: Maximum of three works submitted. Maximum of three works selected.

Submission fee
£12 per work or £6 for artists under 35.

This afternoon... sketching along the river

Returning from Birmingham with a diversion to the River Mease and back to the normal job... Due to the lack of rainfall the water in the river is a bit low but as the last time I was here it was in full flood, one shouldn't complain.

 Afternoon sun highlights on the stream... another month and there should be more green.

Riding into the afternoon light, well almost late afternoon by now

Heading towards sunset, sadly at this time of the year, non of this section of the river has the correct angle for a river and sunset combination.

This morning... Focus on Imaging at the NEC

A morning break from painting with a few hours spent with friends at the Focus on Imaging exhibition being held at the NEC, Birmingham. A great time 'playing' with all the new equipment etc as it's Europe's biggest annual imaging show, covering all manner of equipment, materials, framing, printing then there's demonstrations on computer software, studio flash lighting etc

 Heading for the Wacom stand....

then also the Canon stand... then onto the Eizo stand...

The bare shell of what will become almost £5000 worth of Canon camera but does a great job...

 One of the demos of lighting a figure... at the bottom is a video being shot with an ipad.

Latest oil painting... Dunnerdale, Cumbria

Detail from "Bright Warm Afternoon" Cumbria.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021325

I spent some time alongside this river, it had a number of interesting view points and therefore possible painting... almost behind me is the small footbridge called Birks Bridge, in Dunnerdale, Cumbria where the River Duddon flows down a series of small waterfalls and is then forced through a narrow gap and over time has created some interesting rock formations - a Google search for 'Birks Bridge, Dunnerdale' or 'River Duddon' will show better than any text can. Either side of this area the river is wide and as can be seen in the above oil painting almost calm.

It was the afternoon light with the reflection of the sky on the water surface and the shadows cast from the trees that made me select this view point. I really enjoyed painting the clear water in the foreground, seeing the pebbles on the river bed and the reflected sky colour.

Report from the last few days... been to the Lake District again with stops in Yorkshire and Derbyshire on route.

What had be at first thought of as a day trip, started the morning of the day before, being great weather (the main reason for leaving sooner) and some hours on the way up exploring West Yorkshire and the North Yorkshire Dales:- Whafedale, Wensleydale and Swaledale (the top end) before heading via West Stonesdale (see Flickriver) and Tan Hill to meet the A66 and then on into Cumbria.

Some of the lying snow... still around on the higher areas from the snow a few weeks ago, not everyones' idea of 'beauty' but I really enjoy the landscape when there's snow around. The bottom image shows some of the snow drift patterns created by the wind and the snow drift was still over 30cm/1ft deep on the road that I was standing on and the wall is about 240cm/6ft high.

The one day trip, having already be extended, continued as I ended up staying two nights in Cumbria. The two images shown above are from the Lake District, top one is in Patterdale, one of the many becks (local name for stream) that flow into Ullswater. The bottom picture is of the River Duddon as it  flows through Dunnerdale starting at Wrynoss Pass and ending in the sea just north of Barrow-in-Furness. A less visited valley, compaired to others but no less attractive...

This was one of the stops on the return trip, on the Derbyshire/Yorkshire border and in this case a location I have visited and painted many times in both watercolour and oil. Some sections of the stream were still frozen and created some interesting moments while sliding across, much safer that trying to jump and not knowing what the landing surface would be like... the water in these streams has a brown tint which comes from the peat that covers the surrounding Moors - a contrast to the clear becks of the Lake District.

Now back in the studio for one day then out again...