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Ashley forgets his blog.

Finally a bit of freedom! I don't feel as though I'm alone when I try to suggest that the latest lockdown has been by far the hardest. The cold, long nights, and dreary days ruined my mood on as many occasions as I could think! Looking back now, I am incredibly glad to have my studio shed. I really do think I'd have given up, without having that dry and (sometimes) warm space to work. I've been very very busy over this lockdown though. So much so that I've completely ignored my blog for the entirety of the year!! To give a bit of a rundown of what has happened for me over the past few months. Over the Christmas period I began working on two lovely commission portraits. I had so much fun, and learnt so much from painting them! I haven't really been a big portrait painter in the past, but I have become far far more open to working in new styles, and topics recently.

Once I had finished these commissions I knew that I needed to do something almost daily, just to fill the void left by being on furlough. I decided that I'd tart working on small, quick landscapes. I bought an absolute tonne of 20x20cm canvases, and found as many reference photos of places that i liked, as I could. And then I began working. I think in the end I probably painting somewhere in the range of 30 paintings. These paintings have been so invaluable to my progression as an artist, however. I've fond myself adopting new styles, and becoming far more confident in my own work. At the start of the series, I forced myself to paint with a new blue. To most non arty people this shouldn't make much noise, but if you've painted you'll know just how much the tone of the blue can affect the result of your painting.

In my typical landscapes I would use Ultramarine blue. This is essentially, the modern take on the beautiful Lapiz Lazuli colour. It's a very easy blue to use in landscapes. It allows you to create beautiful blue skies, and warm sunny days with ease. This is obviously great, but I wanted to try something new. I'd never really been able to perfect a cold winter morning with my previous works, and that's something that's always annoyed me. Every time, I'd make the overall tone of the pieces just that little too warm. I knew this was down to the blue that I was using, but I was very comfortable with Ultramarine, so obviously I wasn't too keen to change. Luckily for myself, that change was forced. I came in the the studio on a cold afternoon, and to my horror I'd discovered that my Ultramarine was all but empty. I could've just gone back inside and ordered a new tube and waiting until it arrived to paint, but I thought "lets just try Prussian blue." What a learning curb! My first piece in Prussian blue, was a lighthouse based in Anglesey , and it was honestly one of the hardest paintings I have done. The tones that I was expecting to get from my paint, we non existent. I had to learn. I had to work out how to use these these new colours, and that wasn't easy. I persevered though, and by the time I was finished with the piece I'd realised that I'd painted one of my best works of art to date! This piece is still available on my store to purchase, and I have to say it is a lovely little painting, even if that sounds a bit arrogant.

I continued to work with Prussian blue for a few more pieces. Trying to learn as much as I could about this beautiful cold colour. I felt fairly comfortable painting with it by my final piece, a painting of North beach in Tenby. Soon my new tube of Ultramarine would arrive, and so would my desire to paint more urban areas. Firstly I painted the Millennium stadium (Principality), I then began a small series based on the gorgeous town of Shrewsbury. The red and brown bricks, paired against the greens of the foliage made it an absolute ease to paint!

Once I had finished this small series I had the desire to paint somewhere new. I racked my brain a bit. I didn't particularly want to do an entirely different style of landscape, but I wanted to paint somewhere that I had no emotional attachment to. So I decided to paint Ireland. I am so glad that I chose to paint Ireland! The sheer scale of beautiful scenery to paint was beyond comprehension. Each province, seems to have a slightly different style of landscape, so painting it, was enthralling. By the end of the series, I think i'd created about 3 or 4 new favourite paintings, and managed to push on my artistic style so much! One of the main things that this series made me realise, was how much I want to visit these scenes in person! Hopefully, once covid finally passes I'll be able to visit, and paint as many plein airs as my heart desires.

Covid restrictions have been lifted a fair amount now, so it's meant that I'm back working in my usual job. Because of this, I've decided to start focusing once again on my larger pieces. Slowly but surely I am working through my Aberystwyth series. At current I have complete three out of the four paintings, and I'm about 40% through the final piece. Once these are finished and dried, I will be on the lookout for a place to exhibit them. I will write another blog post to explain the overall meaning behind each piece once they are completed, but I cannot wait to be able to hopefully brighten some peoples days in Aberystwyth in a few months time.

I may even possibly add more paintings to the series over the coming weeks, as I have always wanted to highlight the experiences and memories with people in Aberystwyth as well. I will need to research about painting scenes of pubs, clubs, and coffee shops before I start these though!

Outside of this, I have recently painted a large depiction of Tenby Harbour. This is a scene I have somewhat struggled with in the past. The varying levels of heights, and the slightly wonky buildings, makes it very difficult to paint the scene, without it looking even in the tiniest bit cartoonish. However, with grit and determination, I believe that I've successfully painted the harbour. This piece is available to purchase on my store, and I believe it deserves to be loved outside of my studio!

But that concludes my little update! I'm sorry about the confused writing. It's often hard to explain things cohesively when writing from memory alone. I will be posting a piece about our little trip to London, and all the things we got up to, over the coming days, so keep your eyes peeled!


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