Tag Archives: River Lune

Recent bird paintings

I’ve mainly been painting birds and woodland over the winter, I love both. Mainly I head to the coast to watch the birds and these paintings are from the Lune Estuary near where I live, and the barnacle geese from the Solway Firth in Galloway. The entire Svalbard population of barnacle geese overwinters on the Solway Firth and it is really worth a visit to see them.

The Scottish word for curlew is whaup. I was in my twenties before I knew that they were the same bird ūüôā Morecambe Bay is a wonderful place to see them and other wading birds.

Whaups, Morecambe Bay. Oil on canvas, 61 x 46 cm

Whaups, Morecambe Bay. Oil on canvas, 61 x 46 cm

Barnacle Geese, Solway Firth. Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm.

Barnacle Geese, Solway Firth. Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm.

Little Egret, Lune Estuary. Oil on canvas, 50 x 50 cm

Little Egret, Lune Estuary. Oil on canvas, 50 x 50 cm

 

Sketching at Conder Green, Lune Estuary

I just thought I would share a couple of photos from this morning, I went to Conder Green on the Lune Estuary. Such a beautiful day that even the mud looked nice – reflecting the blue sky. I love the shapes carved by the tidal channels in the salt marsh and mud, and the birds are always fascinating. Today there were lots of redshank scurrying around busily, feeding before the tide covered up the mud. I think they were redshank anyway, they had red legs.

I’m planning a series of larger paintings from my accumulated sketchbooks of the Lune Estuary, I have dozens of sketches of birds and the river, I’d like to do something with them.

My Mighty Midget telescope and sketchbook

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Wellies essential all year round in Lancashire

Conder Green. Glasson Dock in the background and a flock of oystercatcher and knot?) which rose from the opposite side of the river

Redshank feeding on the mud, incoming tide

Blue Mud! An acrylic study I painted from my watercolour sketch.

Collaborators wanted for river/flood related art exhibition

As I have mentioned on my blog previously, this year I’ve been working on a series of paintings connected to the River Lune and the floods of last winter. I’m planning to exhibit these to coincide with the anniversary of Storm Desmond (5th/6th December) – or thereabouts, in the Lancaster area. I’m looking for others who may have been working on art/writing/films/poetry/whatever related to floods or the River Lune or climate change more broadly and may be interested in also exhibiting their work or collaborating in some way. I’m also looking for somewhere to show my paintings. I have a couple ideas in mind but have not decided anything yet.¬†

If you are interested in collaborating or have any suggestions, please get in touch at jmr@jmr.org.uk. I am away for a couple of weeks until early September but I will get back to you as soon as I can.

High Water on the Shortest Day. River Lune, December 2015. Oil.

High Water on the Shortest Day. River Lune, December 2015. OIl.

Lune Year: Sycamore and Flood Grass

A short lived spell of warm sunny weather in the past few days has finally brought a touch of green to the trees. This sketch is of the brand new sycamore leaves opening, the grass from last December’s floods still wrapped tightly around the branches.

Its mixed media; acrylic and pastel, on a watercolour background.

New leaves of Sycamore with Flood Grass, mixed media

New leaves of Sycamore with Flood Grass, mixed media

Lune Year: Buddleia and Flowering Currant with Warlocks Whiskers

These drawings are of buddleia and flowering currant bushes growing alongside the River Lune in Halton, outside my studio. They are just beginning to bud, and I wanted to record the budding leaves and blossoms tangled in the ‘flood grass’, or warlords whiskers, as a friend calls it.

Buddleia & Flood Grass #1, mixed media

Buddleia & Flood Grass #1, mixed media

Buddleia and Flood Grass #2. Mixed media

Buddleia and Flood Grass #2. Mixed media

Flowering Currant with Flood Grass. Mixed media

Flowering Currant with Flood Grass. Mixed media

Without really planning it, I’ve embarked on a project I’ve called Lune Year. I am drawing and painting the river, and the riverside, for twelve months following the ‘big flood’ of December 5th, 2015. I’m fascinated by the way that the riverside has been so profoundly changed. From late November until mid January, give or take a few days, the river was in spate. On the night of 5th December, the river flooded to unprecedented levels. The environment agency recorded the flood on 5th/6th December as follows:
The River Gauge at Caton on the River Lune recorded the highest ever flow on an English river as 1742 cumecs (m3/second) ‚Äď That‚Äôs 1742 tonnes of water flowing down the river every second! The flow peak was recorded at 00:15 on 6th December 2015 following the intense sustained rainfall from Storm Desmond.

The river throughout December and early January was pretty scary to be honest. However, it was also utterly fascinating. I spent a lot of time filming and photographing it, at different points within walking distance of my studio, and I began my series of paintings and drawings. I’m planning to exhibit them next spring, once the twelve months is up. In the meantime, I’ll post some of the work on my blog.

Museum Inspired Exhibition at Lancaster Museum

This exhibition has just opened at Lancaster Museum, showing a series of work by myself and four other artists: Milan Ivanic, Fay Collins, Gill Aiken, and Rosa Mackinder. The artwork was made in response to the museum collection.

Here’s my two paintings.

Gerrard Street Ginnel, August 2015

Gerrard Street Ginnel, August 2015

Looking around the museum I was fascinated by the old photos of the city. I¬†saw how much some aspects of the town and surrounding landscape have¬†changed in the last 200 years or so, yet how little others have, at least¬†outwardly. Photos of Lancasters’ back alleys, or ginnels, in the late 1800’s do¬†not look much different than they do now, the chief difference as far as I can¬†tell being the wheelie bins, which have to be carefully parked so they don’t roll¬†down the hills. This is the ginnel (alley way) behind the street I used to live on,¬†and I wanted to try and capture the somewhat timeless feel of the place. It¬†was August when I painted this, although there are no trees visible, and the¬†flat grey light of a rainy day looks pretty much the same in summer and winter.

Coromorant and Lune Bridges, Halton, November 2015

Coromorant and Lune Bridges, Halton, November 2015

There are several paintings showing the River Lune and the Lune Valley in¬†the museum’s collection. Joseph Mallord William Turner painted ‘Lancaster,¬†from the Aqueduct Bridge’ in 1825, when the aqueduct was being¬†constructed. I decided to paint the River Lune today with the new Lune West¬†Bridge under construction at Junction 34 of the M6. My studio at Halton Mill is just¬†upstream from the new bridge, and I have watched the progress of the bridge¬†over the last year or so as I walk along the riverside. I wasn’t really sure how¬†to go about painting such a large-scale subject. I looked time and time again¬†at the bridge over the course of 2015, looking for inspiration. I even canoed underneath the bridges in search of an unusual angle! I thought that the huge¬†yellow cranes would form an interesting composition to paint.¬†In the end, however, the inspiration behind my painting was a fleeting moment¬†on 12th November when I watched a cormorant fly under the two motorway¬†bridges, reflected in the still water of a perfect autumn morning. I found the¬†simple beauty of the bird, the trees and the water far more interesting than the¬†vast bridges. My painting reminds me that in spite of the expanding and¬†changing human landscape, the river will always have to flow downstream,¬†and the cormorants will continue to dive for fish.

Retrospectively, what I find most interesting about this painting is that it represents one of the last days of a long dry spell of weather, before the seemingly never-ending rain of most of November and all of December. The floods of December 5th were monumental, and have really changed this part of the River Lune Рlarge parts of the bank were washed away, the trees are now adorned with debris several metres above the river level. It looks odd, carpets, black bags, hay bales, twisted gates, electricity pylons, and rubble, everything out of place. New islands have been created, trees uprooted. A shipping container from the building site of the new motorway bridge I painted was washed down into Lancaster, damaging one of the bridges there. The river rose to 8.5 metres at Caton, over a metre above the highest previous record.

I’m now working on a series of new river paintings –¬†I’ll post some images of them shortly.