Sunday, 17 April 2016

Less is more... and a little sketch of a French landscape

I just wanted to share the great honour I had discovering that the artist/instructor Jeanne Mackenzie wrote about my painting 'Cold Winter Day - Alexandra Park' (see image below) for her series of articles titled 'Why This Works'; where she discusses why a contemporary painting succeeds as a painted image. This was published for PleinAir Today, the weekly enewsletter for PleinAir magazine.

She describes better than me why I  like to keep things simple and almost abstract. I hope she won't mind me sharing her words because they perfectly express my approach to painting:

"From a distance, this painting tells a story with a lot of detail — parks, buildings, roads, hills, trees. But as you look closer, you see that the story is told with eclectic spots of color and shapes. The viewer loves to fill in the rest of the story with information that they bring to the painting. As simple as this application of paint seems, it is difficult for an artist to just leave well enough alone when it comes to detail. We want to make it more real with windows and branches and cars. That can often have the opposite effect. This is a beautiful example of ‘less is more.’"



Cold Winter Day, Alexandra Park  10"x8"  oil on board


I like what she says about "the viewer filling the gaps". I've always liked the idea of an active viewer to my paintings that can see and imagine the details I'm not including and make the painting his own. This reminds me of a theory I heard at University years ago. This was originally about music but it can apply to painting too. It said that when the listener hears a song/ music piece that is easy/finished/obvious/catchy, he might like it at the first listening but gets bored of it very quickly because he is not involved in the listening process. But if the song is more subtle/abstract/unfinished/complex, the listener will have to be personally involved to try to decrypt it and give a meaning to it, and will not only make it his own, but also will keep rediscovering new layers at every listening which will make him want to listen again. Well I would be very happy if my paintings have such an effect on the viewer.


Detail


Detail


If you haven't fallen asleep yet with this long wordy post, then I'll just take the opportunity to post a new little sketch below. This was done after a trip to the South of France. I wanted to capture this quiet early morning light before the heat kicks in.



The courtyard, sunrise - Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt  5"x7" oil on board



Thursday, 7 April 2016

Spring is here...back to the allotments

Most of you know that I have an everlasting love for painting allotments. And now spring is here, this is the first place I'm heading to. I just can't get bored of it. It always looks and feels different to me. This one below was done in the morning just after dropping my daughter to preschool. A real breath of fresh air and freedom to be able to get out and paint while someone else is looking after her!

What caught my attention was the contrast between the dark wooden shed and the bright green cover at the back. All this leading to the beautiful views over Bath.


Monksdale road allotments, early spring  7"x10" oil on board

This painting is available for sale here on my website www.valeriepirlot.com where you can see a larger image of it.




After about 40 minutes




Detail 1



Detail 2



The painting below is a small sketch done at the week-end in the morning. I did paint this plot before for a commission but couldn't resist going back for it as the vibrant colours were calling me.

Mini series - Allotments 6    5"x7"  oil on board


Preliminary sketch



Blocking in the colours


The painting at the end



Detail

This painting is available for sale on my website www.valeriepirlot.com

Saturday, 26 March 2016

The honeymoon painting

My husband and I got married last year after 10 years together (better late than ever!) and we went to Lake Como for our honeymoon (if it's good enough for George Clooney, it's good enough for us!). I didn't take my painting kit with me as it would have been a bit rude to leave my husband alone on our honeymoon while I'm off painting. However I did take some reference pictures and got around to have a try at this view of Como in my studio last month. So here it is:


Como, Italy in September  10"x10"  oil on board



Here are a couple of close-up of the painting:

Detail 1



Detail 2


I got good feedback from people last time I posted the step by step images of the painting process so I'll try to share them whenever I can:















This painting is available on my website www.valeriepirlot.com in the Italy folder alongside all my available work.



Saturday, 19 March 2016

Looking at the Bath half marathon from Alexandra Park

After a few weeks of hibernation, last week-end was the first time this year I got out to paint in plein air. It was the Bath half marathon so most roads were closed but I knew I could access easily one of my favourite spots in Bath: Alexandra Park. The weather was glorious and the park has panoramic views over Bath so people started gathering to have a glimpse at the start of the race. I could hear all the noises from the race thanks to the sound travelling up. I set up my kit while I heard the countdown to the start and put my first brushstrokes as the runners started to run. I pretended for fun that all the cheering and music was there specially for me to encourage me with the painting!


Looking at the marathon from Alexandra Park 10"x8"  oil on board


And I needed encouragement as this painting had the worst start I can ever recall. I felt I completely forgot how to paint and every brushstroke looked like it was done by a two years old! No, actually kids can produce great work so let's say it looked like it was done by a drunken dog. But I persevered and finally that turning point happened and I can now say this is one of my favourite paintings! So basically, never give up!

Here is a detail of the painting below. I had to paint the people quickly as they didn't stay around for long, so I just suggested them with a couple of brushstrokes.

Detail


Here are a few pictures to prove what an amazing view you get in this park:





The painting half way


The finished painting

This painting is for sale on my website alongside all my available work on www.valeriepirlot.com. I can ship worldwide.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Last light on Stall Street, Bath

I've just finished this painting of Stall Street in Bath, produced in my studio while waiting for warmer days to get out. I loved the way the last light of this crisp winter day was hitting the Bath stone buildings.


Last light on Stall Street, Bath  10"x12"  oil on board


A couple of details below:





I have included the step by step below. I used a warm red background as I wanted that warmth to slightly show through the building across the whole painting.








This painting is for sale on my website www.valeriepirlot.com alongside all my available work.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Preparing the birthday party

I couldn't resist doing an other little study from my sister's lovely pictures of her daughters in South Africa. I'm probably just longing for those long hot summer days and this painting is like a little piece of summer in my studio.

Preparing the birthday party  10"x10"  oil on board


I have included below the step by step for those of you interested in my method. In case you wonder why there is a unused section on the right of the panel, it is simply because I don't have square panels so if I want to use such a shape, I pick the relevant rectangle size and then cut the unused section after the painting is finished. (well, when I say "I cut it", I mean my father-in-law who kindly cuts them for me and is definitely more habile than me with a saw!)


Step1



Step2



Step3



Step4



Step5

This painting is currently available for sale on my website www.valeriepirlot.com


Monday, 21 December 2015

Capturing a place with paint

For my last post before Christmas I wanted to share a commission of four paintings I did earlier this year for a lady in Uccle (Brussels), Belgium. The property was outstanding and I tried to capture the beauty of the house and surrounding gardens. I worked on larger formats that I'm used to (40cm/60cm) but I really enjoyed the process and the client was very happy with the result which is always a relief!

The painting below is a side of the garden and features the beautiful globe metallic sculpture. The star of the show was the tree with the beautiful red foliage. I enjoyed suggesting the back of the garden with looser and cooler brushstrokes to give a sense of distance.

Uccle series - Garden with sculpture

Detail


Detail

Detail


Detail


Detail




The second painting below is the driveway leading to the house. There was such a magical light piercing through the leaves which I tried to depict with impressionistic brushstrokes. 


Uccle series - The entrance

Detail


Detail

Detail

Detail


The third painting below is a view over the garden from the top floor window of the house. It gives an idea of the beauty and scale of the property. The challenge here was to treat all the different greens in a different way to show the various shades, textures and depths of the trees and flowers in the garden.

Uccle series - The garden from above

Detail


Detail

Detail



Detail

Detail




The one below is a cropped version of the painting of the house. I removed the house for privacy purposes but wanted to show here the trees and swimming pool surrounding the building.

Uccle series - The house (cropped detail)

Detail


Detail

Detail


If you are interested in a commission of your house, garden, favourite room, favourite view etc..., you can contact me here or visit www.valeriepirlot.com/commissions for more info.

I wish you all a merry Christmas and fantastic year 2016 full of creativity!