Oil painting of boats at Alnmouth, Northumberland

Detail from "Summer afternoon at Alnmouth", Alnmouth, Northumberland.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021355

This delightful view is from the middle of the tidal mud flats on the River Aln just before it meets the North Sea at Alnmouth, Northumberland.

A number of fishing and sailing boats were lying on the mud, a bit tricky in places but with care most areas were passable away from the main channel which is behind the boats. It was late afternoon and the sun moved to the correct angle to provide the highlights on the wet mud, in some spots too bright to really see, so it was a case of moving around until a good spot was found.

I really liked the additional pools of water: 1. as a good lead into the painting and 2. to break up what would then be just wet mud (which as present when drawing another view of the far distant boats), so I wanted to include those even though it required a little be more work.

The background was quite simple with a nice hazy feel to it... the main East Coast railway line goes across the view, it's the straight line three quarters of the way up the background hill

Join in The Big Draw at the Mall Galleries, London

Join us at Mall Galleries for two events as part of the annual Big Draw, the biggest drawing festival in the world.

The Big Draw is run by The Campaign for Drawing, and has one aim: to get everyone drawing!

Wednesday 2 October, 11am to 3pm
Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours’ Big Draw
Short clothed figure poses throughout the day in the main gallery of the Mall Galleries, no experience required, no booking necessary, basic materials provided, come whenever you like during the day, Members of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours will be there to assist.
Admission Free

Thursday 3 October, 11am to 3pm
Royal Society of British Artists’ Big Draw    
Short clothed figure poses throughout the day in the main gallery. Basic materials supplied. Two models posing. Come whenever you like throughout the day. No booking required. No experience required. Members of Royal Society of British Artists will be there to assist.
Admission Free

Last call for Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition - from Mall Galleries

If you missed the online submission deadline, you can still bring in your works to be looked at by the Selection Committee on the Receiving Days:

Sunday 15 or Monday 16 September, 10am to 5pm.
at Mall Galleries, 17 Carlton House Terrace, London  SW1Y 5BD

The Society of Wildlife Artists promotes appreciation and delight in the natural world through all forms of fine art inspired by the world’s wildlife.

Any work depicting wildlife subjects is admissible. The Committee will also consider work that evokes the spirit of the natural world. Botanical subjects and domestic animals are NOT admissible.
Maximum of six works to be submitted. Maximum of six works will be selected. Work must have been completed within the last two years. Work exhibited previously in a London gallery is not admissible.
All works must be for sale. Minimum price: £300, unframed prints: £120.

Acceptable media
Work may be in any medium including sculpture and original prints (please detail edition and how many are available).  We cannot receive works larger than 2.4m (8ft).
Submission fee
£12 per work or £6 for artists 35 or under.

SWLA Bursaries
Awards of up to £750 each are open to any artist (16 and over) to enable them to develop their skills. This may be through help with education and courses, expenses for a field trip or expedition, or help mounting a special project.

To apply for a bursary please click here to download the application form and submit it to arrive by 12th September 2013.

In the last twenty years SWLA Bursaries have supported many varied projects:
A bursary enabled Vicky White to travel to Gibraltar to study and raise awareness of the Barbary macaques as part of her MA course at the Royal college of Art
Stephanie Black aimed, for the sake of wildlife and the environment, to influence consumers to recycle more and to refuse supermarket plastic bags, by producing free cotton bags with seabird designs
Christopher Wallbank used his bursary to produce the Unbound Amazonia Field Guide of local flora and fauna for use at the Manu Biosphere Reserve of Eastern Peru.

Swans on the River Windrush - oil painting

This delightful scene in on the River Windrush near the village of Swinbrook. The family of swans just added to the charm, thankfully they stayed for long enough to gather some reference.

The reference for this has been waiting for some years to be painted, on the day it was late afternoon, not 'ideal' light, the trees were just beginning to change to their autumn colour. Sadly on a more recent visit some of the trees had fallen down into the river, hopefully they will be cleared.

The river itself, is an artists delight with lots of subject matter to be found along it's length - it is also well known for fly fishing and on many visits I've met fishermen and used them to add a human element on some of the paintings/

Detail from "Swans on the River Windrush", nr Swinbrook, Oxfordshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021354

Trip to Mersea Island on the Essex coast

These pictures are from both West Mersea and East Mersea on Mersea Island which is located on the Essex coast. For those that wish to do a 'google maps' search for 'West Mersea' and then move the orange man onto the coast road (left hand side of island) for a view of this area.

The above two images show the joys of working on the coast... within half an hour while sketching this view the incoming tide had risen by over 12 inches / 30 cm, the small boat had entered the view while the light - part sun to full sun - changed throughout...

Lots of children fishing for crabs, some doing very well by the amount seen in some buckets...

Some interesting views amongst the boats.

The Thames Barge 'Dawn' waiting for high tide before moving into the main channel.

Its now high tide on this day, having been sunny for a few hours the sky is changing fast. Some people are walking back though the water on the now submerged footpath.

Off the coast at East Mersea, which is a complete change to West Mersea, a number of Thames Barges were sailing up the channel. This one was in full sail before doing a 360 degree turn and dropping some sail.

Early morning oil painting of the River Welland

Detail from "Changing seasons alongside the River Welland", nr Duddington, Northamptonshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021353
Another early morning start captured the superb low sunlight on this view up the River Welland. The trees and vegetation had started to change to their autumn colours, the nights, with their colder temperatures, provided the ideal conditions for some mist patches to form over the river which just added to this scene.

Banburgh Castle Oil Painting

Detail from "Majestic Banburgh", Banburgh, Northumberland.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021352

The reference for this came from my last trip to Northumberland. It was early afternoon on a warm and windless day, the tide had just passed high water for that day... it was then find the spot, or spots, to gather the reference material needed. On the previous visits during the trip I'd gained some good material from locations closer to the castle (hopefully to be painted soon) so I was partly looking for something different - hence this view which shows some of the beach, rocks and sand dunes that line this part of the coast.

The next snow oil painting

Detail from "Nottinghamshire stream in winter", Nottinghamshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021351

A lovely warm early morning sunlight on a good covering of overnight snow was all that was need for this view. This painting and others in this batch are for exhibitions later in the year but it can be a bit odd working on winter subjects in the middle of summer (near record temperatures) or the other way round...

Step by step oil painting - oil painting of small stream with snow covered banks

Stage One:
Basic under painting with thin washes having been applied over the drawing which had dried over night - the drawing (the dark lines) was a thinned (with turps) mix of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna.

Stage Two:
Go over the whole painting now trying to establish more weight to each area - usually at this stage I'm looked at the darker tone or the colour of the darker tone of each element and placing that. While it cannot always be the rule the lighter elements will be painted over this darker base. Note that, even at this stage, some of the base lines still show through which helps with the placing of things. The alternative which I sometimes use is no line put work out the placement as I going along - in the end the choice is down to each artist and how they want/like to work.

Stage Three:
This stage I started to establish the far distant background trees before moving forward to the trees than line the bank of the stream. For the distant trees it was a case of painting the lighter snow cover branches over the under painting done in stage two.

For the foreground trees, first it was paint in the dark areas followed by the branches that were catching the sunlight - these were painted wet over wet. Additional dark elements were also added to the foreground banks.

Stage Four:
This stage was all about painting snow. A range of both warm (sunlit) to cool (shadow) colours were mixed and then in some cases it was paint the snow on each branch, some having both sunlit and shadows sections or the bigger areas of snow which had limps and bumps plus cast shadows.

When all the snow was painted, the darker dried grasses and other vegetation was painted plus if need some of the tree branches.

Detail from "Covered with soft snow", Nottinghamshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021350

Stage Five:
The final part to be painted was the stream. In this case a rather simple one compared to some. It was all done wet into wet, again working dark to light but most of it had been established already so it was really more mid to the lights that were being reflected on the water surface that need to be painted. The last bits to be added were the snow covered twigs etc that stick out over the stream from the right hand bank.

Next group of oil paintings started

Below are some of the next group of oils paintings started - early base layer has been applied to all of these...

All being well, a step-by-step demonstration of this stream and snow covered trees and banks coming soon...