Tree in Blossom Monserrat

Began – outside of Manressa, continued Marganell, Catalunya, April 2010

Completed – Didsbury, Mancunia, May 2010

The air in the city makes the sky a gloomy yellow in the heat.  After crossing one or two serras, the mountains are blue, and the sky turns green.  The Pyrenees are in the distance, what I thought were clouds is the snow melting in the spring sunshine, but Monserrat looms as a mysterious shape in the landscape, towering over Manressa, and the tiny villages.

Tree in Blossom Monserrat, MMX £400

In April I went on a painting campaign to Catalunya, I stayed in several places, but moved on when I had the feeling that said “I’ve got to get out of here.”  The only place I didn’t get this feeling was in the mountains.

The painting came from thinking about musical composition, and the continuing challenge.

One of the trains of thought i have been following is to construct a painting as a piece of music.  So the elements which make a piece of music, such as rythmn, bass, melody, harmony are translated into elements in painting and used similarly.   I wanted to take music, which takes a simple melody, but only plays it for one phrase, and alters, improvises and changes, throughout the music, before and after the phrase.

I thought using this would make the continuing challenge more comprehendable.  The continuing challenge is to paint as your eyes see, not as a camera sees, and not as  a vision that is completely fixed, so that you can look at what is close up, and what is far away, but not at the same time.   Double vision/blurring etc, three dimensions, but not 3D.

Blackthorn MMVII can't remember the price

I did a similar painting – using white blossom to approach the continuing challenge, concentrating on the focus aspect, using blackthorn in blossom.  As ever not a good quality photo, strangely enough I had the banner this one is hanging on with me in Catalunya, and came in handy when some pajero smashed the window next to my bed.

This earlier painting was in Chorlton meadows, in bright sunshine, my eye had started to get bad, but I was determined to do the painting, even though it meant looking into the sunshine.  had to wear an eyepatch after doing that one.  Anyway, that was one of the experiments with medium and glaze to create blurred effects.  I confess that i did cheat though.  I painted the blossom in detail at home using a cutting, so that I could take my time over it.   The composition wouldn’t allow that with the Monterrat blossom, however I did try.  I didn’t double vision anything though, I didn’t want to lose either subject and haven’t experimented with that aspect of the continuing challenge succesfully using paint.  I’ll show you some drawings, but not today.

Unless its been stolen or defaced, this painting is in Studio Art in Warrington. which is a gallery above a furniture shop.


MontSerrat + tree in blossom

not sure what kind of tree

Composite of 3-1 locations, the first was coming down from Manressa with a view of a town, I didn’t want the town in the end, and replaced with the tree.

original plan was to have focus changing from fore to back ground like eyes, with repeating and disappearing elements.

Then I had an image in my mind of blossom appearing through a fog, I experimented while painting, I really wnated then the low light glowing through the petals it was a hot day and windy, I realised the first tree wasn’t getting me anywhere, after painting since sunrise. so I moved to the other side of the serra and painted another.

blossom before glazes, correction and cleaning

I like how the blossom dissappears into the fog of paint though its not how I expected now I need to repair damage from bushes as I was carrying it, remove dirt from when it fell over in the wind, use glazes to blur more and strengthen colours.  I’m giong to experiment with stand oil for glazes and marble dust so the new colours don’t overpower the old.  The glaze I’m going to use is 9 part damar, 9 solvent, 4 stand, and 2 venice turps (I used it here before the agules)

the venice turps is old and crystalizing I hope its alright

pain in the arse to dissolve its very thick and orange.

the solution is looking like cloudy lemonade

takes a lot of shaking to dissolve the balm

a sneaky few specks of orange crept into my white

made a powdery paint with short practically no flick at all, (quarry) but soft

the white has been overpowered by a tiny bit of orange in the glaze and has so little oil it odesn’t mix quickly

I’m planning to work from light to dark with the glazes,  turns out the white works well being thick in a very watery glaze, but there are some drips with  mixture now *something* the jar lids needs more colour, or the mixture in the jar needs more venice balm.  now i need to darken the white/orange. yellow without spoiling it, I’ll use a little brown + yellow

bottom drippy fog needs working on.


Same construction and sizes as with Agules.

emulsion and oil d’aspic ground again, mixed carefully for the strange lilac tint of the air while beginning the painting.

lots of fun painting montserrat, walnut oil again. and the light catching the side of the mountain, met a local lady who was saying how wonderful it is to wake up to, gave me some photos of the mountain.  her description was more useful strangely enough.

several scraped down fat layers, until the right attitude and tree (caught the sun very badly)

medium number 2 working into the tree

9part damar glaze at home.

decided to keep layers of glaze visible along the bottom to develop the disappearing fog of paint idea.

lots of glaze,  the marble dust was useful.  scumbles dried translucent.

big question is now about a frame.


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