Gusts of Libeccio!

Winter's Fixed-wheel

Winter’s Fixed-wheel

I’ve been fairly lazy this last few weeks so to make amends I headed out west on the mudguarded Winter Fixed today. I might be a moaning bugger about the creeping rise of “Americanisms” in our language but there’s a couple of terms I really like.
Badass is one and it’s been happily adopted by cyclists, denoting those who would eschew wind and rain and all adversity to get those training miles in. Folk like legendary Belgian pro Johan Museeuw who fell in the Paris-Roubaix race – a race he’d previously won – and so badly injured his leg that it was touch and go whether it was amputated. The next year he retuned and won it again. The same man whose climb of the Kapelmuur was done in the big ring. A true Hardass – even if some of his performances were later admitted to as being chemically-enhanced.
We cyclists have plenty of examples like this to keep in our heads when we face the mere wind and rain in an attempt to be just a little Hardass.
So out into the elements today went I, and on leaving the built-up areas of town soon found the wind was quite extreme. Not just the expected steady West headwind either but a Libeccio – that’s a South-Western and in gusts so strong that I was riding along hanging off the side of the bike – which was a bit disconcerting when the gust suddenly dropped.
(Incidentally this is a pencil-drawn Caproni Libeccio in rather better conditions than today – interesting eh?)

Libeccio

Libeccio

I had planned a good long ride today but after some extremely hard slogging with rather too many deviations from a straight path I turned for home and zig-zagged my faster way back, musing on that other web-spread word and thinking there’s just a fine line between Badass and Fucktard.

Lapis Lazuli

Or bleue outremer-veritable ( with an acute on that first “e” of veritable).
I wonder how to produce an acute here?
But I digress, because that’s what I do. When an excellent English maker of artists’ oil paints recently produced a limited quantity of Genuine Lapis Lazuli I dug deep and bought a tube of it. This is a rare natural pigment and used to be sourced from Afghanistan which accounts for the “Outremer” or “Overseas” name. Lapis Lazuli was the finest/rarest/most expensive blue available until in the early 19th century a man-made version became available, known as Ultramarine.
The overseas connection again invoked.
Having this tube of exotic blue-gold I thought it best if I tried to produce a painting that would exploit the characteristics of the stuff.
These qualities are: almost transparent, quite dull and without great covering-power.
That is in modern parlance – crap!
So using this wondrous stuff and mixing with the other time-served natural pigments of terre-vert, raw umber and lead white I painted the very thin washy picture below.

Friedrichshafen GIII

Friedrichshafen GIII

Now, I’ve been moaning about another picture lately, that I thought quite “painterly” which didn’t get accepted for a Guild show, but
– God bless ’em, this one made it though. It’s still with me here though
and I must confess I’m quite glad.

The old Ham-Bone

When I go out for a cycle I take an expendable phone in case of some catastrophic event. Something beyond a puncture or a chain-breakage – things which we manly-men are expected to rectify on the road. Well, at the side of it anyway. Hopefully without rain or midgey-attentions.
A phone that I won’t be heartbroken about if I end up skiteing down the road with it in a rapidly shredding pocket. Not an i-Phone 5s then…
My ancient Nokia 6300 was replaced recently with one of the same ilk but younger by some margin. The 515, supposedly the last of its kind and with a 5mp camera superceding the old 2mp one.
Because images from phones are ubiquitous now I thought I’d do two comparison images. The Nokia and a good Nikon SLR camera.
This is my best fixed-wheel bike, taken in low-contrast conditions today. Not a nice day but good for a test of subtle-tone rendition by the two contenders. It turns out there is no comparison

Nokia 515

Nokia 515

Nikon D3s 28-70

Nikon D3s 28-70

It seems obvious that the SLR would be better, but I’m amazed that the difference is so great.
I wonder what a top-line phone’s image quality would be like? Time for that 5s then?

….NEXT!

Frank Zappa it was who once sang “……..it’s a drag when you’re rejected”
and Frank could be right about so many things.
He also made the observation that “PEOPLE are assholes”. A bit of a generalisation there, I fear – but succinct.
A while ago now, whilst vainly searching for a better way to paint than the photographic – repro type of image that is the norm within accepted aviation art, I managed to cast off my inhibitions long enough to do this.

Morning Maintenance

Morning Maintenance

A Hurricane being prepared for its daytime duties to come. I went fairly doolally with palette knife, big brushes and all – and mixing darks from complementary colours etc. Trying to be accurate
but “creatively” inaccurate too.
The Trolley-Ack in the foreground is just about recognisable as such.
I was quite chuffed with it – and pleased to have broken through that mould of
oh-so-photo-illustrative painting.

Rejected as a show entry.

The Caudron Conundrum

G4 watercolour

G4 watercolour

So- back to aeroplanes, which is what it’s supposed to be about here (mostly). Here’s a watercolour of a Caudron G4 – a strange French multi-purpose machine of the Great War. This was the first ever sale I had with the Guild of Aviation Artists’ Annual Show. What a feeling to think somebody liked a picture enough to actually buy it!
So that was me off the mark and exhibiting every year after that.
Two years ago I exhibited this one below. It’s the same aeroplane but this time painted in oils and after a few more years of trying to improve. Hopefully it’s a better image, but sometimes I wonder if the simplicity of the first one isn’t stronger?

G4 Oil

G4 Oil

The Wee Wizard

After my recent visit to the speedway museum I looked out a wee oil painting that I had put aside having started some time ago and then quietly lost interest in. Today, in between looking out the window at the flying branches,slates and rain, I had a go at it again. So now it’s about halfway done and I think it’s going to be OK.
When I first started drawing it was mostly motorbikes. Until the time I could be competing on them myself.
Meadowbank Stadium in Edinburgh wasn’t always an athletic one. It was built for the Commonwealth Games on top of the bulldozed speedway track.
Speedway is pretty awful nowadays but in the Sixties and right back to the Twenties, it was second only to football (bah!) as a spectator sport.
Meadowbank Speedway was a magnificent purpose-built track and near the end of its existence there was a visit to the Edinburgh Monarchs from the Belle Vue Aces team.
Their captain and the reigning World Champion was this wonderful wee man. “The Wizard of Balance” he was called, although “The Wizard” would have been enough.
Anyone there that fateful night will always remember the last race of the great Peter Craven.

The Wizard

The Wizard

The Month of the Halberstadt.

DIII

DIII

Very happy to have a watercolour featured on the December leaf of the Cross and Cockade Society’s annual calendar. A Halberstadt DIII
And another aeroplane featured in December of NEXT year’s one too!
The Halberstadt was most elegant and the first successful German biplane fighter of the Great War. It’s common conjecture to reproduce them as being finished in either natural doped linen or in light blue. Having studied and compared tonalities though, I’ve my own theory that they could have been silver-doped. So that’s what I’ve tried to go for here. Right or wrong? Nobody around who could say…..

Bouch!

We’ve a fine graveyard almost opposite us wherein lie a good many of our illustrious Edinburgh Great and Good.
In the light of my previous post about bridges, here’s a man who’ll long be remembered as the designer of the ill-fated first Tay Railway Bridge.
A man reportedly rather better at self-promotion than he was at stress-calculations.

Bouch

Bouch

He was pencilled-in to produce the Forth Bridge too. Until the morning of 29th December 1879……
He didn’t last another year after that great fall.
Even in a sun-dappled graveyard, Thomas Bouch remains in shadow.

The Two Bridges Run

Forth B.

That’s a cycle over the Forth Bridge, along through Fife to the Kincardine Bridge and back to Edinburgh via Grangemouth and Bo’Ness. No matter how many times I’ve done it I’ve never managed to get the journey to break the 90K. Until today – which involved a wee bit of canal path exploring. Until I could take a snap of The Kelpies……………

Kelpies

Kelpies

.. and that’s not all that’s new when you pass through Grangemouth. A plastic ( I assume) Spitfire. A Mark One or Two. Just the fellows who were first in action in WW2 when the Rosyth Dockyards were attacked by JU 88s. Or not attacked in reality.
Before the building of the oil refineries there was an aerodrome here. With Spitfires. Westland Whirlwinds came here too.

Spit

Spit

So, all in all, not a bad wee cycle. But next time Ill do it when it’s warmer. Bloody freezing today.

WIP! Work in Progress.

My Media-adviser (Ruthie) assures me I have to have a THEME for successful blogging. That’s a shame as I thought I’d try to cover Aeroplanes, Steam Locomotives, the Caledonian and Highland Railways, Bicycles and cycling, Running, Music, perhaps Photography and Colour theory. Artists materials, Running shoes, Saxophones, BSA Gold Stars, First World War history and maybe more.
Oh well – I shall be on Aero-Painting then. With occasional deviations.
There’s an Edinburgh school which has an impressive list of former pupils – amongst whom were the Barnwell Brothers. Harold became a test-pilot for Vickers but died in a crash in 1918. Frank however was a designer with Bristol and produced the Great War’s Bristol Scout, M1 Monoplane, Bristol Fighter and then went on to create the Blenheim prototype between the wars.
That very school now requires an image for a 2014 WW1 Centenary publication and it’s to be the Bristol Fighter (or “Biff” to its crews.)
I thought I’d try one in a more unusual but still authentic setting. Having a tussle with a Rumpler CIV in Palestine regions.
From No.1 Squadron Australian Flying Corps. The fuselage is overpainted in white, either for recognition or for easier spotting on the ground in case of engine-failure

Biff

Biff

A fair bit to go yet but I WILL try not to over-work this one.