Friday, 11 December 2015

Different techniques yield different results

I use plaster in different ways to produce divergent results.

I have re-worked Grasmere to put more mood into the sky - scraping away the pigment.
This painting was painted on hard dry plaster.

Working on dry plaster means that lines are sharper.


Last weekend I did a very quick painting on soft damp plaster which produces an entirely different effect - it is much more difficult to be precise (which is good for me).

It is a more immediate way of getting a memory from mind to 2 dimensions.


I enjoy both methods and strive to be looser - freer.

Come and see the difference on the 19th December at Craig-y-Nos Country Park Christmas Fair.


Sunday, 6 December 2015

Craig y Nos

In all weathers we walk the park of Craig y Nos every Sunday.
We then sit outside the cafe drinking coffee whilst looking upon the rock rising above the man-made lake.

The view changes every weekend season by season.
It is never the same.

We age, the trees also age - but slower. The great copper beech is beginning to die back.

Today the hill is dark - almost black - rising to ochre at the top.
Rain clouds just clear it and create a lightening bolt of white cloud against the grey.

I return home and paint a quick fresco on soft plaster.
An impression of Craig y Nos on this particular day.

Come and see this and other work and the Christmas Fayre at Craig y Nos Country Park Sat 19th Dec

6"x 6" With added coffee ! £25

All paintings will be reduced - some up to half price.


Sunday, 15 November 2015

Can a landscape be tactile ?

I am just completing the third and final painting from our visit to the Lake District of Cumbria in May this year.

I discovered that the landscape had a tactile quality early on in my art education back in 1979. I was bowled over by seeing paintings of landscapes and seascapes by Monet, Cezanne, Vincent Van Gough, Turner, Constable, and many others on a couple of trips from Swansea to London.

From exploring how perspective worked and how lines could appear and disappear in nature - and how the eye follows a line - I started seeing and feeling landscape and figures and objects not as isolated but as connected and intersected by lines man made or natural that locked them visually into place.

This way of seeing became almost like another sense - I could feel a landscape as I read it - and begun to see that that is what other artists were doing - even those who produced 'abstract' works which I also love and appreciate.

I have always attempted to tell this linear story of distance and foreground - which is probably why I like plaster and the opportunity it affords for etching and carving its surface. It is knowing when to stop that is the problem. Some I rework, some I accept as complete very early on in their making. They are all their own thing.

This is a view from a ruined bothy on the side of a hill above Grasmere. It was a very cold and late blossoming May - we sat in the shelter of the bothy drinking coffee from a flask out of the biting wind - the vista changed continually as rain swept in from the sea.

There is more mood to be put into the sky and mountains to recede.


Sunday, 8 November 2015

Absorbing the landscape

As mentioned in my previous post, I have been making a fresco from a sketch of the crags above Coniston Water in The Lake District - made when I visited in May this year.

The process starts with selecting the frame size I would like to use, then pouring liquid plaster into it - avoiding bubbles the painting surface cast onto glass.

Then comes the drying, followed by the first drawing.

During the waiting period - I continue to walk in our local landscape - the hills above Craig-y-Nos in particular are reminiscent of Cumbria. I drink in the forms and colours and take them back with me to the studio.

I attempt to feel the geology and the perspective and try and draw myself in to the window that a frame creates.

Here is the process and the result (for now - may be subject to further work !).


Sunday, 25 October 2015

Three watercolours on paper - a departure

I normally regard my sketches as roughs and not really as finished work. I have always used watercolour and watercolour pencil with biro - yes horror of horrors - biro -to make on the spot sketches. I KNOW THERE ARE RULES ABOUT WATERCOLOUR AND INK - and for good reason you should use proper drawing ink because biro is not fade resistant. BUT I am a fool. I like immediacy and scribbling and flow.

If the resulting drawings are framed and kept out of direct light they last for years.

I usually translate these sketches into plaster - but they do have an immediacy which I like.

Someone commented at my last exhibition in Sept that my style is very 1920's - 30's . I was not fully conscious of this but I am inspired by the art produced in Britain around that time. I place them here as work in their own right.

Rosebay Willow Herb above Newport

Sunset from Carn Ingli 

Sentinels Nant y Rhydyn 

If anyone wants any of the paintings shown in these blog posts, please comment, and if you are on Facebook or Twitter I can direct message you. @paul_steer

Paul - in all sincerity

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Why plaster ?

As I contemplate another fresco - from a sketch made in May near Coniston, I thought I would post some images from work made from a few years ago up to the present day.

I make these paintings because they connect me viscerally to the physical world around us. I still believe there is a mystery in the way we live within our own mind, and sometimes what we live in and among can almost seem unreal and disconnected or hardly noticed. We edit out so much.

Mark making is visceral it connects hand to mind, plaster allows for scratching etching and drawing - as well as absorbing pigment.

Artists edit out marks which are unnecessary and emphasise those that are - this is a delicate process and one which I wrestle with when making a painting. Some of this work is illustrative - but my preference is for more expressive work - these are akin to a sculptural frieze rather than a flat painting - but that is in my own crazy mind.

Cat on a welsh blanket - plaster on wood. p.o.a

Speckled wood - sold

Pembrokeshire coastal path 8"x 8" £45

Sometimes black as coal - the Upper Swansea Valley  18"X 18" £65

Portrait of the artist as an old dog - n.f.s

Skipper on scabious 4"x 4" £30

Small tortoiseshell 4"x 4" £30

Dark green fritillary 4"x 4" £30

Seeing is a complex sense.


ps thanks to for the photos from 2012

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Release the paintings

I have created this blog in order to focus just on the fresco paintings that I make in my small studio here below the coal-tip on the side of a welsh hill.

The work shown is currently for sale and if you like any of the work you can contact me via this blogsite or by email. I make affordable art not because I am an amateur but because I truly believe if you love a piece of original art you should be able to buy it. I do have to cover cost of materials, time and postage.

I have been painting for over 30 years. I have a degree in Fine Art and have work in private collections. I do not make prints as they don't reflect the true nature of fresco - the surfaces are etched and carved in some cases.

I love the natural world and believe it speaks to us. I think we can learn a lot about ourselves by just contemplating this world we are part of. I believe nature has a spiritual element. My main subject matter is landscape, gardens, flora and fauna and how we relate to them. I also paint portraits.

I use plaster because of its sculptural quality - and its light quality. The consequent paintings are much heavier than paintings on paper or canvas and require box frames.

I enjoy the process of creating a fresco , it involves jeopardy and happy accident. Pigment locks into the surface - and can be run into etched lines or can be scraped after application to produce various effects - it feels akin to sculpting with paint.

There is a story behind each image and this is as important to me as the final work

To open this blog I'll show you this painting of Ulswater in the Lake District. We visited this lake after a walk down the fell. The sun was out but as we sat there and I started sketching, the clouds rolled in and it just started raining - that combination of dark and light, the scudding clouds made me feel so alive. The full title is : Broad cross east from west,rain Ullswater . The broad cross relates to the irregular shape of the plaster which I decided to keep - because it shows what it is made of - gives it its weight and sculptural quality, but for me it also speaks of the vastness of freedom.

12x12" £105