From the Lake District to the streets of London....

As a complete contrast to the last few posts, which have all come from the Lake District, the next few oil paintings are for an exhibition in Feb 'The Urban Scene'.

Detail from "Warm Summer Afternoon", New Row, London.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021401

Having done the usual handing-in of paintings at the Mall Galleries, it's then a case of going and exploring the city of London for subjects. Trips that in the past have taken me to all over, some fruitful while others not so, even having done some research before hand.

I enjoy being alongside the River Thames, the many canals, indoor and outdoor markets or street views, like the above all are possible starting points and in the end it's the light that makes the subject for me. Software (apps etc) that shows the precise angle of the sun, for any day or time helps although over time you also build up the knowledge of which streets are better at certain times of the day.

For the above, the warm late summer afternoon sunlight added the much needed contrast and being a busy afternoon a constant stream of people passed by, not always that easy to gather the require information.

Detail from "Before Theatre", London.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021403

The 'meal before theatre' is advertised by many of the food establishments in the area. The establishment on the left couldn't get any closer with the Noel Coward Theatre to the right and in the background (behind the man in the white trousers) is the Wyndham's Theatre.

Again it was the light that attracted me in the first instance to this subject, this time in late spring, thankfully less people and most were less mobile than the first painting

Seeking the best in contemporary watercolour painting - open exhibition at Mall Galleries

Submit online now (deadline 30th Jan), and be in with a chance of winning some of the £3,750 worth of prizes.

The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) was formed to exhibit the best of modern and traditional watercolours and to show non-members works alongside those of members.

Submit online now
Deadline: Thursday 30 January, 12 noon

Acceptable media: Watercolour or  water soluble colour (excluding water soluble oils), any use of non-watercolour media must be handled as watercolour (e.g. no heavy impasto, no varnish, etc.).
Work must be painted on a paper based support (no hardboard, textiles, etc.) and mounted under glass.
We cannot receive pictures taller than 2.4m (8ft).

Conditions: Work must have been completed within the last two years. All works must be for sale. Maximum of six works submitted. Maximum of four works selected. Minimum price: £300

Submission Fee: £12 per artwork, £6 per artwork for artists aged 35 or under.

More info here on Mall Galleries website

Three more oil paintings from the Lake District...

Detail from "Crystal Clear Beck", Deepdale, Cumbria.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021379

A delightful beck (local name for river/stream) offered this winter view - what more could an artist want... In summer it's blocked by all the leaves and when visiting in the past at that time of year it wasn't as appealing... what's great about all the becks/rivers in Cumbria is how clear the water is. This makes the painting of the water that bit more involved plus add in the reflections (trees/sky) and it gets very interesting. Breaking it down into smaller areas or layers as I've mentioned before in previous post works best for me anyway.

Detail from "Morning sun melting the frost", Glencoyne, Ullswater, Cumbria.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021376

The usual superb view over Glencoyne to Ullswater and Place Fell was even more special this morning. With great sunlight, autumn coloured trees, patches of frost, some melting fast as the sun's warmth got to work on it.

Detail from "Langdale Stones and Pikes", Great Langdale, Cumbria.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021377

One of the classic views of Great Langdale with the Langdale Stones in the foreground and the Langdale Pikes in the background.

It was late afternoon with warm sunlight catching the autumn colours while at the same time the shadow from the left hand side crosses the valley floor much faster than I'd hoped but it added a good contrast to the subject.

Thankfully as the sun went behind the fells, it was a short trip to the B&B which is behind by the Oak tree and a wonderful location to stay and to start from the following morning having had the full English breakfast and much talk of locations to visit with some of the walkers staying at the same time.

Special series of Pastel Workshops for the amateur and professional artist...

The Pastel Society is offering a special series of Pastel Workshops for the amateur and professional artist.

The workshops cover a wide range of subjects and will be tutored by members of the Pastel Society. The workshops will run from 10.30am to 4.30pm (Except where indicated).

Participants may bring a packed lunch although drinks and snacks are available from the Mall Galleries café.

Easels and drawing boards will be provided, but students should bring their normal range of materials.

Models will be available, but where the subject is landscape, participants are recommended to bring sketches to work from.

£50 per day or £45 per day if booking four
*Reduced fees for Friends of The Pastel Society are £45 per day or £40 per day if booking four
*Early booking is advisable

Download the Booking Forms; Page one here and Page two here

The Workshops are: 

'Preparing a variety of surfaces for three small paintings'
Workshop with Ann Wilkinson
11 June, 10:30am to 4:30pm

'Travels with Pastels'
Workshop with Felicity House
12 June, 10:30am to 4:30pm

'Landscape with Pastel'
Workshop with John Tookey
13 June, 10:30am to 4:30pm

'Portraits with Pastels for all Abilities'
Workshop with Glenys Ambrus
14 June, 10:30am to 4:30pm

'Life drawing for all Abilities'
Workshop with Sue Relph
15 June, 10:30am to 4:30pm

'Drawing from a model'
Workshop with Victor Ambrus
17 June, 10:30am to 4:30pm

'Figurative Compositions'
Workshop with Jenny Halstead
18 June, 10:30am to 4:30pm  

'Figures/portraits in Black and White'
Workshop with Roger Dellar
Sponsored by Caran d'Ache
19 June, 10:30am to 4:30pm

'Pastel Alchemy'
Workshop with Jason Bowyer
20 June, 10:30am to 4:30pm

To book your place download the Booking Forms from the Pastel Society website

Last Call for the Royal Society of British Artists

The Royal Society of British Artists seeks submissions of work displaying the highest standards of skill, expression and draughtsmanship in any media including sculpture and original prints.

If you missed the online pre-selection deadline, you can still submit your work on the Receiving Days:

Friday 24 & Saturday 25th January, 10am to 5pm

at 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5BD

For more information and inspiration, visit:

Other open calls:

Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours
Deadline 30 Jan, 12 noon

Royal Society of Portrait Painters
Deadline 13 Feb, 12 noon

Pastel Society
Deadline 20 March, 12 noon

Oil painting double from the Lake District - Sprinkling Tarn and Stockley Bridge, Seathwaite, Cumbria

Detail from "Sprinkling Tarn and Great End", Seathwaite, Cumbria.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021375

I put these two oil paintings together as they are not far from each other as the crow flies... walking between the two is... well, lets say more effort is needed. The painting below shows the climb from Stockley Bridge (a delightful packhorse bridge) following the right hand wall and then through the shadow and following the far edge of that shadow as it climbs right... to come out just behind the the copyright symbol on the painting above.

It's strange to think when looking at them that the reference came from two day's over a year apart although both trips were done in early to mid summer with the greens at there most vivid.

Having got to Sprinkling Tarn (on this trip I chose to go the other way, via Taylorgill Force and Styhead Tarn, approaching the tarn from the right hand side) I walked around the edge looking for the best view... well most of the time at least, as the rest was spent avoiding the small swarms of midges. The above view appealed for a number of reasons, reflection of Great End - which was what I wanted to capture - although this day anything even a short distance away was hazy, nice water surface with slight ripple, some stones beneath the water along with vegetation to add some additional interest.

Detail from "Grains Gill from Stockley Bridge", Seathwaite, Cumbria.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 02138

Standing on Stockley Bridge for any length of time one is passed by those heading up or those that have almost finished (some in a better state than others) their walk. A good number with have been walking for many hours, if they have been to Scafell Pike - I've seen some head straight for the pools below the bridge on hot summer days...