On the easel now

Here are two detail images of the beginning stages of a large painting I have started recently.
Large for me is anything above 24 inches in either direction.

The subject is a scenic panorama of Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. I am using as reference a few shots I took on a recent trip to U.K.

This will end up being the first landscape I have created in over a decade. I started with the structure itself since that will be the most challenging.


Spring Exhibit Award

My latest pastel painting, "Eleanor of Aquitaine", won an honorable mention award in the most recent juried group exhibit I submitted it to.

The "honorable" and "mentioned" piece is 9x7 inches.


Postcards from Britain - Blenheim Palace, Part 4

When you go into the main entrance of Blenheim Palace you find yourself in a beautiful open space which establishes the awesome surroundings and splendor of the interior. Original and reproduced, captured French battle standards of the vanquished French armies are displayed in various rooms.

Aside from marveling at the fact that for centuries this entire place was a private residence, the great thing about seeing the interior of a place like Blenheim Palace is the ability to see a private collection of fine art. Art that you will never see in any public museum, and that has been in a family for many generations is always extra special to me.

In a section off to the right of the main hall hangs an impressively huge portrait of the first Duke, John Churchill and his family. Sitting on a table in front of the painting is a beautiful silver sculpture.

The sculpture is actually a dining table centerpiece that was used in many formal dinners hosted by the various Marlboroughs throughout the centuries. It depicts a victorious John Churchill writing what is known as the “Blenheim dispatch”. Basically after leading the British to victory in the battle of Blenheim, in Germany, he takes a moment to write to his wife Sarah, saying something like “… tell the Queen she has had a great victory at Blenheim.” Below are a couple details of the sculpture.

This scene is immortalized throughout Blenheim palace in paintings, sculptures, and tapestries.


Postcards from Britain - Blenheim Palace, Part 3

As I mentioned in a previous post, in centuries past the English were great for pounding their chests in the face of their French rivals, and Blenheim Palace is all about that. The image below shows an example - a sculptural detail on top of a double column in the main courtyard at Blenheim. A close look shows that the Lion, (symbol of England) is mauling and about to devour a bird (symbol of France).

Take THAT French!
From this position, if you turn to your right, you see the main body of Blenheim Palace. It is similar to standing in front of the Vatican in that the main structure sits in front of you, and you are enclosed (hugged if you will) by two wings on each side. The setting is awesome.

Blenheim is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Blenheim is used as a backdrop for many films and television episodes. My favorite being Lewis (Multi award-winning Kevin Whately and the accomplished Laurence Fox, solving crimes against the stunning backdrop of Oxford!). The day I shot the image above, the palace was being used as a backdrop for a show called The Royals which airs in the U.S. on the E channel - which explains all the clutter in my shot.

Lastly for now, here are some links I probably should have posted earlier in this series on Blenheim Palace:

Blenheim Palace official page
A good read about Blenheim
Blenheim Palace facts and figures
More beautiful English country houses


Postcards from Britain - Blenheim Palace, Part 2

When you enter the Blenheim Palace grounds from the main streets of Woodstock you go through a triumphal arch gateway that was commissioned by the first Duchess, Sarah Churchill. The gateway is a memorial to her husband John Churchill, the first Duke, and was built about 20 or so years after his all too early death.

The inscription on the top (of the other side) of the arch reads: This gate was built the year after the death of the most illustrious John, Duke of Marlborough, by order of Sarah his most beloved wife, to whom he left the sole direction of the many things that remained unfinished of this fabric. The services of this great man to his country the pillar will tell you which the Duchess has erected for a lasting monument of his glory and her affection to him. 1723

We will get to the "pillar" she references in a second, but the image below is the quintessential view of Blenheim Palace and Park that you see upon entering through the gate and looking to your right. Pretty sweet.

The "pillar" Sarah referenced in the gate inscription is a large triumphal column she had built a good distance away from, but directly in front of the main entrance to Blenheim Palace itself. It resembles Nelsons column in Trafalgar Square, only its much larger. It too serves notice of the great service to England done by the first Duke, John Churchill. He stands on top, clad of course in Roman style gear. Here are a few of my shots of the pillar...

Blenheim Palace is behind us and way off in the distance is the pillar.

A long, lovely walk awaits those who take the time to go right up to the pillar.

John Churchill: Victor of the Battle of Blenheim and the war of Spanish succession.