Robert Bashford likes painting puddles. If you think about it, that’s brilliant. Why?
Lead Image: “The Muddy Bikers,” by Robert Bashford, oil, 10 x 14 in.
“I’ve always been drawn to water and light, whether it’s a puddle or wet sand on the beach,” says Bashford. “Since I do not live near the ocean, I paint the local landscape. I am lucky to have rivers close by — and also a lot of farm tracks with lots of puddles. (We get a lot of rain here in Berkshire, England.)”
Puddles bring the sky to the ground. They break up monolithic masses of value. They introduce color and variety to mud. “I am always fascinated with the reflections in puddles and how they change from warm green/ochre in summer to cooler colors in winter,” says Bashford. “This also changes if there is a lot of dirt suspended in the water. You can play with the depth of the puddle, and how the edge of a puddle picks up spots of pure light.”
Bashford says he prefers to do almost all of his painting on site, so he chooses small panels on which to paint. Each season of the year offers benefits and drawbacks. “The winter sun means less painting time, but the light is better,” he points out.
The artist blocks in big shapes with washes, then he works from dark to light. The reflections in the puddles call for great care. “I like a clean edge around the puddle, so I use quite a bit of paint there,” says Bashford. “I try to be careful not to muddy the lighter parts of the puddle that are picking up the sky. At the same time, those parts can’t be too light or the highlights in the painting will not work.” As bright as the lights in puddles can be, they are not lighter than the lights outside of the reflection.