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Oil painting of Great Thurlow Windmill under repair

Posted On: Thursday 2nd June 2011
Summary: Windmills often have a wealth of detail, and I find oil painting is an ideal medium for putting in detail. This small painting - 8"x12" - of Great Thurlow windmill under repair was started on location using my pochade box, and finished in the studio using reference photographs

Blog Tags: Landscape painting   Oil painting   Outdoor painting   Pochade painting   Windmills and mills   Buildings   

Great Thurlow windmillGreat Thurlow mill. Oils 8"x12"
Windmills are one of my enthusiasms, so I can’t help putting in detail. If I didn’t know how patent sails work, I wouldn’t know what I’m looking at, or what is missing.  I like painting mills as they are – and most of them are less than perfect. In this case under repair. By the look of it the fantail is getting attention at the moment. Getting windmills right is actually quite difficult. If  the body is tapered, as with tower mills, and most smock mills like this one, and you are painting from quite close-up, the perspective is slightly exaggerated and you can end up with the cap looking unnaturally small. So you have to compensate a bit.
I spent about an hour and a half on site, and packed up when I was feeling pretty much that this was not going well. But I took a few reference photos – much needed for the details – and had another stab at it in the studio. Slowly it started to come right. Somtimes I just have to persevere – scraping off where things are muddy or too thick, or washing bits off with turps and starting a section again. Even though there is more detail in this paintng than most I do, a lot is still unstated. I hate windmill paintings where every brick and every nail is put in. They inevitably look stiff - a photo would do the job better.
The black clap-board is interesting. Black is never black, expecially in sunlight. In this instance there was a lot of green algae making interesting variation in what amounts  to chromatic grays.

This painting is featured in my book of windmill paintings which can be purchased here.


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