Those Oxford spires have lured me back over the last couple of weekends, helped along by some decent weather and a meet up with the UK Plein Air Society. It was great to meet up with the crew, compare notes over coffee and paint out together!

Oxford is such a great place to paint. The warm sun on the sandstone spires is superb, although it moves fast as it creeps over the buildings! It makes me realise how important it is to try and keep up with regular (daily) drawing so that there is little hesitation when making judgements at speed out in the field. I’m not aiming for detail, more the ‘essence’ of the place at that moment. It’s tricky….sometimes elusive….but more satisftying than the purely literal (in my view anyway).

Hopefully I’ve managed to capture something worthwhile. Sometimes I feel like I’ve nailed it but others can fall short of expectations. It’s par for the course though with plein air painting….one moment….one hit…..give it your best shot and you can’t ask for any more than that!

This was REALLY tricky to paint. Such a busy scene with people, light and boats all moving and changing. Still, in for a penny and all that. I think I managed to simplify certain things without getting too fussy…..certainly no time for that! Whilst the subject is quite genteel, Tim and I were actually standing amongst an assortment of dubious litter and debris on the river bank opposite.

 Outside the entrance to Christ Church College. The light was good, although moving swiftly. The guard seemed intrigued as to what I was up to (sorry about the light catching on the photo)

Looking towards the Radcliffe camera

Looking towards the church down Turl Street. I was keen not to overpitch the shadow values to prevent the dreaded ‘veil of drabness’ creeping in. Perhaps I should have pitched deeper but one can but try!

Evening light by the Randolph/Asmolean museum, 6x8in. This had to be done at speed but it was all about the tonal values. I wasn’t too fussed about detail but I really wanted to try and judge the balance of tones in order to get the sense of light and atmosphere. The crazy thing was it took all of 40 minutes and the sun started behind the Randolph on the left and finished behind the Ashmolean on the right!

A couple of shots of me in action (thanks for taking them Valerie)

The umbrella stops the sun shining on the canvas which helps to stop me over compensating by making the darks too dark

Above: Getting my eye level sorted! You can see my little improvised panel raiser on the easel since the easel doesn’t seem to account too well for taller artists :o)