Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Work and Play

I really enjoy drawing in pencil. The feel of the graphite as it glides across the paper is almost sensual. When I start a portrait in this medium I sharpen about seven or eight pencils with densities ranging from 2H right through to 7B. This enables me to capture the smallest detail with the harder ones, and to render the darker areas with the softer pencils. Sometimes I use sepia but they are not made in such a variety of grades as graphite. I wish I could get hold of a really hard sepia pencil as I just love the colour.
Last week a client came to collect my latest commission – three approximately A4 size drawings of her stepchildren – a present for their father. I had them framed beautifully with a double oval cream mount and silver/gilt rectangular outside frame. Here they are – Dan, Josh and Abby.


The social season in Henley is still going strong, and last Thursday, accompanied by my young friend and Felicity, we all togged up in our evening finery to go to the Henley Music Festival. Held on the banks of the Thames in the area vacated by the previous week’s regatta, all sorts of activities are taking place as well as the main attraction. Tom Jones was appearing on Wednesday but the tickets had been sold out for that day. Soon after we got to the Festival we were offered a trip on ‘Consuta’.


This lovely umpire’s launch was built in 1898 and is 52 feet long. It’s the only surviving steam powered umpire’s launch in existence and can reach a speed of over 27 mph. We had a great time gliding along part of the regatta course. I sat right next to the engine so could really appreciate the almost whispering sound it made and the lovely smell of steam.

We sat outside to have a meal in one of the many restaurants there, and afterwards toured the attractions. Rolf was represented by the Henley Lemongrove Gallery with a very impressive array of recent paintings and limited edition prints, some of which had featured in the BBC Arena programme.
Here are a few of the sights.






And as you can see the river was full of every sort of craft you can imagine – including Henley’s own Dragon Boat.


Later in the evening as it got dark – and a bit chilly – a gigantic balloon took to the sky. Attached to it was an acrobat who performed a number of hair-raising balletic manoeuvres high above us.


She was accompanied by a really good musical firework display. This is one of the views across the river with boats and their reflections adding to the ambiance of the scene.


Now that I’m just about fully recovered I’m able to play bowls at full strength and competed in what is called the ‘Yardstick’ competition last Sunday morning. Any bowls that are not within one yard of the jack are removed. It’s a twelve-end contest and I was leading right up until the eleventh end, when my opponent suddenly surged ahead and beat me by one point. I’m playing again tomorrow in the second leg of the championship so hope to advance a little more then.

I popped over to a boatyard at Bourne End the other day to buy another set of oars and rowlocks for my dinghy. So on Saturday afternoon with two of us rowing we speedily made our way up to Phyllis Court and tarried awhile eating the ice creams we bought by the slipway and listening to an Abba tribute band rehearsing on the far bank for the concert that evening.

On Sunday the weather sparkled and steadily got hotter as the day progressed, so we took the big boat out for a trip to Hambleden and back. Here I am lazing in the back of the boat, which we moored at Phyllis Court.


Later in the evening we drove over to Streatley to have dinner at the Swan at Streatley. Such a beautiful balmy evening – we sat outside on the verandah and had fish and chips. This hotel also caters for functions on this barge moored right outside the hotel.



Finally, this is the miniature I finished last week. It’s of ‘Shining Bear’, which I mentioned in my last blog. The clothes and symbols he’s wearing for this portrait represent different indigenous tribes, the shirt being a copy of a Sioux holy man’s shirt. The feathers of a golden eagle on his shoulder were given to him for building a medicine wheel over the bird’s body and are very rare. The medicine wheel on his chest represents the four colours of man that make up the human race, and the ring on his finger is a Navajo design.


3 comments:

Wes and Rachelle Siegrist said...

Fabulous portraits Bill! I bet the one of Shining Bear was especially fun to paint. That is really amazing about the acrobat alongside the fireworks although I would have been concerned for an errant firework or ember taking down the balloon!

joy said...

wow, highly impressed on the miniature's Bill (as always)! May have to have one of jules made with pencil ;)

Alice Hill said...

Hi, this is a brilliant painting, you are very talented.

I am an artist who works in oil paint, but I've always done large scale portraits. I want to start painting miniatures and I wondered if you had any tips/advice about painting miniature portraits for someone who is just starting out?

Again, congratulations on creating a beautiful piece of work