Oil painting of boats at Brancaster Staithe on the North Norfolk coast

Detail from "Tides going out", Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021363

The water level was dropping fast as the tide went out, which in this case was a great help as it exposed more and more of the mud which being wet was reflecting the sunlight. I also liked the contrast between the simple foreground and the more detailed middle distance along with the contrast in light.

A mentioned before, all the water/mud area was done wet into wet over a loose base layer, while the background was built up with a number of layers or painted straight on. While it takes more time to paint, I find it a joy trying to capture the detail in a subject like this.

Last call for New English Art Club Annual Exhibition

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:

Friday 4 & Saturday 5 October, 10am-5pm.

to Mall Galleries, 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5BD

The New English Art Club (NEAC) seeks work which demonstrates excellence in both concept and draughtsmanship. For more information and inspiration visit: www.newenglishartclub.co.uk

Maximum of six works submitted. Maximum of five works selected.
Minimum price £300, unframed prints £120.

Acceptable media:
Paintings, drawings, pastels, original framed prints (please detail edition). Sculpture is NOT admissible. We cannot receive works larger than 2.4m (8ft).

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

New English Art Club Drawing School Scholarships

The Scholarships will enable the Scholars to attend all classes and workshops run by the Drawing School free of charge, and will enable the scholars to develop an informal 'mentoring' relationship with one of the members of the NEAC.

Apply by delivering a portfolio of works to the Mall Galleries with a covering letter, your address, email address and a CV.

The portfolio may include sketchbooks and small photographs of work, but no paintings on canvas or framed works.

Receiving Days:
Friday 4 & Saturday 5 Oct, 10am-5pm

More info: www.newenglishartclub.co.uk

Another winter oil painting...

Detail from "The best of winter", nr Duddington, Northamptonshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021362

One first passing this location while walking along the river bank in the opposite direction the light direction wasn't quite right but when I returned it was almost right. It was then waiting for the right time, I could see glints of highlights on the water surface as the sun moved around, so hopes were high. It was really bright with the sunlight reflecting of the river and bright snow, even the vegetation was covered in ether frost or snow with frost.

The location for this is almost on the opposite bank to the early morning with sheep shown in a previous post. The sheep painting was done just below the large trees to the right in the background...

Yet another cold morning - heavy frost at dawn oil painting of the River Esk, North Yorkshire

Detail from "Day break with heavy frost", nr Castleton, North Yorkshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021364

This was the result of getting up four hours before daybreak, driving three and a bit hours and then hoping all turns out well.

What cannot be predicted are things like the amount of frost, which was very heavy that morning, and the sunrise/clouds which can make or break this type of subject. The sky reflection in the river (River Esk) helps bring a little bit of warmth into the foreground but in the end I was lucky with the sunrise with just enough cloud to add some colour into the sky otherwise it could have ended up being a cold looking painting.

Thankfully, a few hours later, it was time to warm up with some hot food in the wonderful North Yorkshire coastal town of Whitby before heading along the coast which is a delight to many artists.

"Painting Matters Newsletter" from Winsor & Newton

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The Threadneedle Prize for Painting & Sculpture

Championing contemporary figurative art by living artists

At £30,000 The Threadneedle Prize for Painting & Sculpture is one of the largest art prizes in the UK.

Visitors to the exhibition may cast their vote for the winner of the £10,000 Visitors' Choice Award (voting closes 5pm on 9th October).

Exhibition open:
25 September to 12 October, 10am to 5pm
Admission free

The Threadneedle Prize is the leading competition for figurative and representational painting and sculpture. At £30,000, it is one of the most valuable art prizes in the United Kingdom.

With many of the most high profile art prizes tending towards conceptual and abstract works, The Threadneedle Prize deliberately sets out to raise the profile of contemporary representational art.

The Prize provides experienced and emerging artists with the opportunity to showcase their work at a leading venue in Central London.

111 works by 95 artists will be on display.

All works for sale and available to Browse & Buy online

Find out more at: www.threadneedleprize.com

A cold start but wonderful sunrise - oil painting of stream in Northamptonshire

Detail from "Just before sunrise", Northamptonshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021361

While on my many trips up and down the country I try and visit locations on route, this was one of those 'small' diversions...

I got to the location well before dawn, what cannot be shown was how cold it was that morning... all the small puddles on the tracks were frozen solid plus there was some frost lying in places. As the sky lightened, one never really knows what each sunrise will bring, but this day the whole sky turned pink and then as time passed towards sunrise, the colours changed with bits of purple, reds, orange, yellows all in wonderful shapes across the sky as each part of cloud caught different light.

It was then selecting one or more locations to gather reference material and this was one of them. The river in the painting is a second channel of the main river, in this case the River Nene, which runs just below the tree line in the far distance from which other material was gathered later.

The whole Nene valley is an interesting mix of river and lakes, lovely countryside and villages but never far away from the big towns like Northampton and Wellingborough.

Winter sunlight on snow and small stream - oil painting

Detail from "A winter morning light", Nottinghamshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021360

This oil painting is all about the light... to have light it needs something to contrast against it, in this case the deep shadow along the waters edge and the snow covered trees/bushes on the right hand side in shadow but thankfully that's broken by patches of sunlight snow and the foreground branches that break up the area.

The water was a real joy to paint... with the reflections, some parts in sun, some in shade and as normal done wet into wet over the base layer.

Back to painting snow...

Detail from "Stream through the fields of snow", Nottinghamshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021359

A rather simple view of this small winding stream in the middle of winter with the banks and surrounding fields covered with the snow that fell over night. Being early the warmth (although little) hadn't had time to start melting the snow on all the small branches/dried grasses etc. The whole of this painting was completed in one sitting, bar breaks for food and drinks.

Early Morning with the sheep - oil painting

Detail from "Hazy and bright morning with the sheep", nr Duddington, Northamptonshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021358

This was one of those being in the 'right place at the right time' moments... something that no amount of 'going looking for' will ever come up with.

My usual path when visiting this location is down by the trees, alongside the river - hence the mist/haze, but this morning the sheep which are usually in the larger section of this field (to the right) were just moving that way. I positioned myself alongside a tree as they slowly moved pass, the slow movement, grazing and suckling help as this aided the gathering of reference.

The morning light helped greatly with this painting, catching the edges of the sheep and tops of the grass... along with the haze distant and slight misty feel as the warmth of the sun got to work on the damp grass (some bits of frost in places) - overall not a bad start to the day.

'Still Alive' at the Mall Galleries

An exhibition of contemporary still life paintings by members of the Federation of British Artists

Join us for the Private View on Tuesday 17 September, 6-8pm

Exhibition open:
16 to 21 September, 10am to 5pm
Admission FREE

Mall Galleries presents an eclectic selection of still lifes, ranging from the realist to the abstract, all of which utilise form and texture, colour and tone, to convey the extraordinary essence of everyday objects.

Still Alive is proof aplenty that the still life genre is as alive and well in the twenty-first century as it ever has been.

Artists include:
Angela A'Court PS
Chris Aggs RBA
Glenys Ambrus PS
Lillias August RI
Richard Bawden NEAC
Jason Bowyer NEAC PS RP
Tessa Coleman NEAC
Jeremy Galton RBA
Paul Gildea NEAC
Ann Heat RBA
Julie Held NEAC
Andy James RP
Pamela Kay NEAC RBA
Lucy McKie ROI
Arthur Neal NEAC
Barbara Richardson RBA
Nick Tidnam RBA
Matt Underwood SWLA
Annie Williams RBA

Perhaps the enduring appeal of the genre owes to the fact that, to quote Professor Anthony Savile, King’s College London: “through [still life] pictures... we find in our everyday domestic surroundings a delicacy and tenderness that we would otherwise quite miss.” A specially commissioned essay by Professor Savile will accompany the exhibition.

All works for sale and available to browse and buy online.

Find out more at: www.mallgalleries.org.uk

Last weekend at the Chatsworth Country Fair

While doing other things I had a few minutes to gather some pictures while at the Chatsworth Country Fair. This is held every year in the grounds just below Chatsworth House, Derbyshire.

Being a country fair, most of the stalls, displays, events are country related but other attractions like vintage fairground and the Red Arrows add to the visitor appeal... of which thousands visited over the three days. More information can be seen on the above link to the Chatsworth Country fair site.

Having just opened, early visitors pass the front of Chatsworth House. Part of the house is still covered while the work on redoing the windows continues - returning them to the original gold coloured window frames.

As well as period cars, a good collection of military related vehicles. 

Just one of the tents holding many of the stalls - selling things from crafts, to wood fires, solar panels to outdoor clothing. The background hill held the clay pigeon shooting, to the left was the archery and behind on the River Derwent (one of three so named in the UK) fly fishing all of which you could have a go at, in exchange for some £'s

Lord Sebastian Coe (centre) while on a trip around.

Part of the food section, everything from burgers to fine wines, hand made biscuits to sausages (this years selection from English, German or French), again not forgetting the sweets...

One of the t-shits on the Harley-Davidson stand - it reads

Robin Hood Harley-Davidson
Nottingham, England

Link to Robin Hood Harley-Davidson, based in Beeston, Nottinghamshire, site here

Two oil paintings - Oxfordshire river and Norfolk coast

Detail from "After the rain", nr Burford, Oxfordshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021356

The above view is on the same river as 'Swans on the River Windrush' (posted a few post before) but a mile or so away - closer to Burford, Oxfordshire. The heavy rain had swollen the river, almost to the top of the banks, a complete change to some years in summer when it can be difficult to see the water at all, due to the bank vegetation and lower water level.

On the day, it was late evening with a hint of colour on the clouds in the sky and just enough light catching the grass and trees. Within 10 minutes all had changed with the sun going behind the cloud and then sinking below the hill on the left.

Detail from "Low tide at Morston", Morston, Norfolk.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021357

At Morston, like many of the North Norfolk coast line when the tide is out banks of wet mud are exposed. The contrast between high and low tide and how that one things changes the view really comes into play in locations like this.

On this day, the light at this time was somewhat unusual, although bright, hence the highlights on the mud and last of the water, the rest of the sky had thin high cloud with some distant cloud forming which gave an overcast feel.

I really liked this view of the creek with the boats and wet mud looking towards Blakeney, the church and some of the village can bee seen in the distance. A few hours later as the tide filled the creek there was a mad rush of boats, some for the seal trips, others going fishing and a few sailing boats heading towards the sea.