The lure of the garden |

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The lure of the garden

David Curtis describes how he raced against the light and the heat as made an alla-prima contre-jour oil painting of a picturesque corner of his garden
The Stable Block – Sandbeck, oil on board, 7x10in (18x25.5cm). This is an end-of-the-day subject. So often, for some reason, your last piece of the day might just be the best. I think it is a carefreeness of attitude where that creative buzz occasionally surfaces. Strong vertical and horizontal features always assist compositional values

Quite often, it is easy to lose sight of enticing subjects in one’s immediate locality. In my case, I have used the garden at Gibdyke House as the basis of the rural theme. Rather than the tidy manicured effect, the garden is a more comforting, chaotic mix of mature trees, pond and a bit of ‘shed land’ including chickens, dogs and cats. The house is 17th century and set in rural Nottinghamshire. All very conducive to the painter’s eye, I think. The village church is just visible through the tree mass some 100 yards distant.

This whole setting forms the step-bystep demonstration outlined here. I wish to convey an exercise produced very much on the spot, against the light – urgently executed to seize the sense of the moment, the whole image produced in about one-and-a-half hours. Any further deliberation beyond this will have lost the light effect and shadow form will have moved on and, of course, will not adhere to the original concept of subject appeal.

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About The Artist

Welcome to our December issue, packed with inspirational workshop-style features from our team of top professional artists and tutors. This month David Curtis demonstrates an oil painting of a corner of his garden, Graham Webber shows how to paint boats in the landscape, Judi Whitton shares her 'creepy crawly' drawing methods to help you produce unique sketches without a viewfinder and Penny German reveals her tips for setting up and lighting a still-life subject. Watercolourists will love learning how Claire Harkess paints her prizewinning wildlife paintings, and how to paint a successful botanical subject using just three primary colours following Jarnie Godwin's advice. Writer, broadcaster and painter Andrew Marr discusses his thoughts about abstraction with reference to the development of one of his own compositions, as well as much more to keep you inspired, informed and, of course, drawing and painting!