Painting Blencathra

I’m back! Well I’ve returned to blogging after a wee hiatus and of course my modest piece of the virtual world has moved from Google’s Blogger to WordPress. I shall not go into detail explaining the move but what I will say is I’ve been tremendously busy over the past few months, least of all working on my Blencathra documentary.

Incidentally, I’m now in the final few weeks of filming too and I’m amazed at how fast the time has passed by while working on my next big project. There’s been lots of ups and downs and of course the recent Cumbria floods were a huge game changer too. More of that in future posts though.

For now I thought I’d share with you all another hobby I’ve resurrected of late. Painting!

Zoomed in on Sharp Edge, trying to paint the details of Foule Crag.

Only my close friends and family will be aware that in my teens and 20s I worked as a painter and illustrator; specialising in photorealistic black and white pencil drawing and impressionistic oil and acrylic painting.

Just over a year ago I spent a considerable sum of money on new paints, brushes and canvasses only to leave them collecting dust in my garage. The urge to take a brush in hand and mix paint and create something featuring the fells of Lakeland has been growing in me for some time but working on Blencathra which requires my 100% focus had put to bed any idea of pretending to be Michaelangelo.

No tangible brushes, just a graphics pen.

All said during the festive period my wife bought me a graphics pen for use with creative software on a computer and from that I’ve hit the ground running.

I must admit lots of memories came flooding back at the countless hours I put into my paintings including covering subjects I didn’t like. I’ll go back to canvas soon but in the meantime I’m creating work digitally through software.

An extreme close-up of trees I was painting in the Castlerigg stone circle image.

It’s really weird to see how technology has come along to enable ultra realistic painting digitally. It’s astonishing to me in fact. How sensitive you stroke or mix colours, the realism of various tools and how they respond through to the aesthetic appeal of the final product. I love it!

No more brushes to clean, no more paint on clothes and no need to spend significant sums on equipment are just a few things that spring to mind explaining my personal excitement at painting again albeit on a PC or tablet.

Colouring the sky. Looks daft eh? But I blended the colours I was after; aiming for an atmospheric and dramatic sky.

Below you can view two pieces I’ve almost completed. Each one took me several hours to produce but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. They’re based on photographs I’ve captured of Blencathra, though there is a bit of artistic licence at play. I’ve changed the skies and light, removed trees and added them elsewhere or slightly exaggerated some details on the fell. All to form an impression of the scene through my eyes of course.

If you’re a painter, you’ll understand what I’m about to talk about but for everyone else this is how I went about creating the images. First of all I propped my tablet up on my desk displaying my chosen photo. I then used the digital pencil to sketch a rough outline of key features, then after some fine tuning I began to layer on the basic colours of the scene. A good example is the image above where you’ll see a spray of colours in the sky above Sharp Edge.

Slowly but surely I blend in the paint using a dry soft brush or scraper and inevitably I zoom in (or squint my eyes) focusing on adding details and again amending and merging colours.

Another good example is the extreme close-up photo of the trees I was painting in the Castlerigg stone circle image. It looks a mess really eh? But once you take a step back and look at the painting as a whole, it begins to make sense and form a clearer scene.

In due course and when time will allow (maybe on ‘stay at home days’ when the weather is foul) I intend on producing more paintings of course but for now my focus is back on completing my Blencathra documentary. I hope you like the end results.

Sharp Edge WINTER
Almost completed! Sharp Edge in winter.
Blencathra Castlerigg
Blencathra and Castlerigg stone circle at dawn. As a finishing touch, I added a wagtail atop one of the stones.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Nathan says:

    Pictures look amazing, if you don’t me asking, what is the make / model of graphic pen and does it work with an iPad ?, I think it would be a great present for a few folks I know!


    1. Hi Nathan and thanks! I’ve ditched the packaging now. Which model I can’t be sure. But the graphics pen is made by Wacom. Hope that helps!


  2. Susan Irvine says:

    saw this on the George Fisher share on FB, really love it


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