Monthly Archives: February 2015

Disappearing palaces, tempestuous landscapes and lemon squeezers

image showing three books

two Christopher Lehmpfuhl painting catalogues and a book about Emil Nolde’s watercolour landscapes

It might be cold outside but there has been a simmering of wild colours and stormy brushstrokes within. More late birthday gifts arrived in the form of two new catalogues of Christopher Lehmpfuhl’s bold and dazzling work and a small but sumptuous book filled with Emil Nolde watercolour landscapes. Both German painters, but separated by time.

image showing colourful watercolour

wild watercolour number 1, 10 inches square on Arches paper

The Nolde book is very inspiring and propelled me towards my watercolour tubes and pans, resulting in some enthusiastic and richly-hued daubs. I still can’t work out how Nolde achieved such dense, strong colour. Maybe it was the particular shades he chose to work with and maybe he created numerous layers. The more ‘stainy’ colours I used held up relatively well but the others did what watercolours often do – looked vivid while wet but faded to a whitish glow on drying.

watercolour, 10x10 inches on Arches paper

watercolour attempt number 2, 10 inches square on Arches paper

I have done some more work on the Crosdale large painting and, while I’m pleased with the colours, it’s still not quite there yet.

oil painting of Crosdale, work in progress

large Crosdale painting, work progressing slowly, oil on canvas

At the opposite end of the brightness scale, my odd dark painting is still progressing towards its rather spooky finished state.

A2 oil painting on canvas, Whitewell painting

seems it’s always dark near Whitewell, work in progress, oil on canvas, A2

Lehmpfuhl catalogue showing still life paintings and window views

the joy of small scenes in the Lehmpfuhl catalogue

One of my Christopher Lehmpfuhl catalogues is full of intimate still lifes: views through windows and portraits of tables loaded with glasses, crockery and other small items. It gave me an idea to have a go at capturing a ‘family’ of glassware grouped on a table top.

6x8 inches still life of glassware, oil on canvas

still life glassware family group, two tumblers and a lemon squeezer, 6×8 inches, oil on canvas

As the evenings have been getting longer I also managed to paint a very quick view out of the kitchen window as the light was beginning to fade. It was a real rush to get it done, especially as a stray dog appeared wandering through the gardens below while I painted, leading me to break off and check that it had not been abandoned, but it could lead to further paintings as I enjoy the odd shapes of the hills and the trees and their associated shadows.

oil painting on canvas, 9×12 inches, window view

extreme painting, through the window in record time, oil on canvas, 9×12 inches

Christopher Lehmpfuhl catalogue: Die Neue Mitte

Die Neue Mitte exhibition catalogue, brimming with energetic paintings

The larger of the two Lehmpfuhl catalogues is full of thrilling, swirling, huge plein air paintings from an exhibition called ‘Die Neue Mitte’. The series of paintings was created to document the controversial, politically-motivated demolition of an East German landmark building in Berlin, the Palast der Republik, which was open to the public as well as being the home of the DDR parliament and the people’s chamber, or Volkskammer.

It was a place where cultural events took place, with a theatre and art galleries as well as a disco, restaurants and even a post office. As the Palast was gradually torn down Lehmpfuhl kept finding new angles to paint it from and the whole extraordinary process was documented in a film which can be found halfway down this page, entitled ‘Die Neue Mitte’.

I saw the Palast der Republik on my first visit to Berlin in 2001 and it had a real 70s look to it, with its bronze mirrored exterior reminding me of glittery disco interiors and dark smoked coffee tables made of glass. Another short film, about the opening of the Palast in 1976, can be found here.

Winter: a post of few words

photo of frozen pond

pond on the edge of an icy nowhere

There are such a lot of things that have no place in summer and autumn and spring. Everything that’s a little shy and a little rum. Some kinds of night animals and people that don’t fit in with others and that nobody really believes in. They keep out of the way all the year. And then when everything’s quiet and white and the nights are long and most people are asleep—then they appear.

― Tove Jansson, Moominland Midwinter

Winter still has us in its grip. It’s too cold to do anything much other than survive and dream and paint indoors by electric light and, if you are lucky, the shy, rum things might creep out to watch.

In the short daylight hours Tilly and I take to the hills seeking compositions for future paintings.

image of snow on the hills

snowy path marks the entrance to Crosdale (round the corner)

large cloud image

a huge cloud floats across the valley

image showing sun, cloud and snowy hills

sun breaking through the cloud

photo showing Howgill Fells and Lakes mountains in the distance

Lake District mountains on the horizon

Tilly the Welsh Springer

lovely Tilly

hollow in the hills with mountains behind

a bowl-shaped depression frames a mountain backdrop

photo of cloud composition

an assertive cloud arrives