I find no better inspiration than Gods own creation.
The magnificent landscapes, seascapes and skies that surround us every day is a constantly changing source of painting material that we can tap into.
The changing seasons from Spring, with all of its new life, with the colours of blossom and new growth in the leaves, through to Summer, with the strong contrasts of light and shadow.
Autumn, my favourite time of the year, with its stillness and beautiful colours of the leaves as they change colour and it is a great time to paint water reflections due to the lack of the wind and soft light.
Then, of course, Winter, with its short days and long nights and often the wispy fogs and mists that sit on the water and hills.
This is when I get most of my paintings done as you get fewer visitors and interruptions.
I capture a photograph or series of photographs of a particular scene at a certain time of day that I feel would make a great painting. Normally early morning or late afternoon as there is more colour in the sky and surrounds. Also, longer shadows which can create interest in your work.
I generally use an iPhone for reference photos as the camera in it is quite a good resolution.
Also, you never miss a moment as you always have your phone camera with you.
These photos are used as references back in the studio to get me started on a new work and are a guide only. If it is a particular place that people know then you need to have the hills etc.. the right shape and size so they will be recognised.
I generally break the reference photos down into 3 planes.
Foreground, middle distance and background. This helps to keep the painting interesting to look at.
I don't just copy what's in the photo but try to hone in on what it was that I liked so much about the scene and accentuate that. I can sometimes use up to 4 different photos in the same painting.
That's the beauty of painting as opposed to photographs. You can take things out and put things in.
Eg: powerlines, ugly trees, different colours and more appealing shapes.
I print these photos onto A4 or A3 paper and stick them around the studio, where I am painting, put on some music and away I go.
In the end, for me, it's all about the light.