Painting Inoils

Iain Vellacott's painting blog

Tag: oil painting

Humans of Toulouse

I feel very honoured to have been included in the “Humans of Toulouse” project, which you can read here.

And do try to have a look at some of the other stories of far more inspirational and deserving people, all told with great journalistic dexterity and some fabulous photography.




Back Home to Revel

Madam Maury is putting on an exhibition of my paintings of Revel in her wonderful antiques shop on the market square starting this weekend.





Winchester College on Canvas Exhibition Brochure

The brochure for my forthcoming exhibition at Winchester College is now out and has resulted in the number of pre-sales moving into double figures.


The paintings can be seen on my website at – click on the Win Coll tab at the top.

New Paintings for Madam Maury’s Christmas Window





To Frame or not to Frame

Nowadays I normally feel that my paintings are generally better hung unframed so as to avoid the light and atmosphere that is the main focus of most of my pictures being constrained by a physical border.
However, as part of my current joint exhibition, the Barnes Riverside Gallery has kindly put some of their fabulous frames on a couple of my paintings – and I have to say that I think that they really work!
The exhibition runs until 14th December.

Edward Henry Potthast

Why is it that some of the greatest paintings were painted between 1910 and 1920 when surely most people’s thoughts would have been on horrors and sadness of the First World War?

Was it because of the advances in photography or development of better paints, most notably the cadmiums?

Edward Henry Potthast is an artist that I keep stumbling upon and keep meaning to look into more.

Potthast was born in Ohio, USA in 1857 and died in his New York studio in 1927.

He is renowned for his beach paintings which have a lot of similarities to those of Joaquin Sorolla who was living at a very similar time (1860-1923).

Potthast’s paintings can be seen here

Place du Capitole, Toulouse

I have spent quite a bit of time in Toulouse over the past year as I prepare for my exhibition at Galerie Roger Betti in the city in June/July.

One of Toulouse’s best kept secrets is the fabulous 19th century paintings that hang in “La Salle des Illustres” on the first floor of the Capitole building – there are no signs (or at least none that I could understand!) and the place was totally empty when I last went.

Revisiting the Meet

I don’t usually “revisit” paintings but I did a painting of a Hunt Meet about 18 months ago that has been bothering me ever since.

Last week I finally plucked up the courage to change a number of aspects of the original, including putting more colour into the picture and changing what I felt was a far too sombre sky.

Here is the earlier picture –

Prussian Geese

I am in the process of changing a number of colours on my palette and have added Prussian Blue, a strong staining colour that Sorolla used to great effect in many of his beach scenes.

This painting, which is called “Geese with Attitude”, uses quite a bit of Prussian Blue in the cool shadows.

PS I notice that several search queries which are coming to this post are for “Sorolla’s Geese with Attitude”. Whilst I am obviously most flattered by this I must make clear that this is a painting that I did rather than Sorolla – his would have been 10 times better …… and 100 times more expensive! Apologies for any misunderstanding. Iain

Riverside Gallery Barnes

I am delighted to have been asked to exhibit at the Riverside Gallery in Barnes, London.

The gallery enjoys a wonderful position on the mini-roundabout by the Thames at the end of Barnes High Street and has some great artists including Rod Pearce, Tony Merrick, Colin Orchard, Gillian Furlong and Valerie Davide.

I happened to drive past the gallery a few weeks ago and was so taken by the paintings in the window that I felt that I had to stop to take a better look.

And I was so taken by the gallery and its fabulous manager, Kat, that I had no hesitation in accepting their kind invitation to exhibit with them.


Pete Brown at Messum’s

And talking about exhibitions, Peter Brown also has one on at Messum’s at the moment.

I first met Pete over 5 years ago when I was walking over Hungerford Bridge in London and he was just starting a painting looking down into Northumberland Avenue.

Pete not only has incredible talent (surely an RA in-waiting) but he keeps challenging himself with new and often difficult subjects – to set up one’s canvas on a London street and paint totally from life is impressive enough but he can also find light and atmosphere in the rain and even at night.

To me, what is great about this exhibition is the way that, having thought he couldn’t get much better, there seems to be even more atmosphere, sparkle and fun in his new work.

Pete’s exhibition, which is at Messum’s in Cork Street, Mayfair until 23rd October, can be seen here

Aldo at the Catto

My good friend Aldo Balding, one of the UK’s leading figurative and portrait painters, currently has an exhibition at London’s Catto Gallery of some of his stunning pictures.

The exhibition, which is open until 15th October, can be viewed here

I met Aldo on a plane traveling back to the UK about 5 years ago when we discovered that we lived only about 15km from each other here in South West France.

Since then Aldo has given me a significant amount of help and guidance with my painting (he is a really great teacher) and I continue to be in awe of his mastery of his art and the power of his work.

A couple of weeks ago Aldo and I spent an afternoon painting a lock-keeper’s house on the Canal du Midi. Despite the wind (which almost blew my easel into the canal) Aldo still managed to produce a fabulous painting, as below.

Royal Ascot Painting

This is a bit stronger than my usual approach in terms of colours and contrast but I wanted to capture this wonderful natural composition and the atmosphere of Royal Ascot which I attended for my first time last month.

The working title of the 100cm by 50cm painting is “Shooting Sticks”.

As I write this I can hear the fireworks going off in Revel in celebration of tomorrow’s arrival of the Tour de France – I am just praying for some sun!

Early Morning Market

The Golden Arches, Revel

But apparently we are getting a real MacDonalds soon – how France is changing!

The Art of French Boules

I have just completed this painting of an evening game of Pétanque in the Avenue Charles de Gaulle here in Revel.

Pétanque is a form of boules in which the player whose boule lies furthest from the cochonnet (literally “piglet”) throws next.

Pétanque is apparently played by 17 million people in France.

Where Now?

I am now back in France after a very enjoyable 2 week trip to the UK for my Winchester College on Canvas exhibition.

The final tally was 28 sales with a further half dozen requests for further paintings, which I am really pleased with.

I was particularly thrilled that many boys in the school took an active interest in the exhibition – and I even ended up giving a number of talks to classes.

It feels a bit odd now to be sitting in my studio surrounded by bare walls an wondering what to paint next.

On the way to the Channel Tunnel I heard on the radio that it was Cheltenham this week and I very nearly turned around as I would love to paint a major horse racing festival – and seeing the sunshine there yesterday I clearly should have done!

Winchester College On Canvas

5 weeks to go until I head back to the UK with a car full of paintings for my Winchester College On Canvas exhibition in early March.

The brochure has now been finalised and my father has done a brilliant job preparing address labels for the mail-out in mid-February (if anyone wants me to send them a copy please email me at

At Winchester the “pitch” on which one plays Winchester Football (or “Winkies” as it is apparently now called) is called a canvas – and one plays “on canvas”.

A canvas is eighty yards long by twenty seven yards wide (recalling the fact that the game was originally played in a road) and on either side there is taut netting to a height of about 4m and a rope strung between posts.

“I could not paint at all if I had to paint slowly” – Joaquin Sorolla

Having been doing all this research for my new Sorolla web site ( one of the things that keeps going around in my head is his statement “I could not paint at all if I had to paint slowly”.

So for my latest paintings in my Winchester College series I really went for – painting both faster and larger (80cm square) than I have for some time.

I have included a section on Sorolla quotes on the web site which you can view here

New Sorolla Web Site

Barcas Varadas en la playa 1915

I have just finished writing a new web site on my favourite artist, Joaquin Sorolla –

It has been a fascinating exercise researching Sorolla’s life and his approach to painting, including, for example, the colours that he used and some of his direct thoughts and observations (taken from the US press reports of 1909).

I particularly wanted to include good-sized versions of some of my favourite paintings – I hate only being able to look at small thumbnails when part of Sorolla’s impact is the scale and grandeur of the works.

The site is not intended to be a definitive guide but rather a brief introduction to this great artist in the hope that it might provide a gateway through which others might come to know and love his fabulous paintings.

I have also set up a SorollaArt Twitter at http// to provide more day-to-day information about Sorolla – news, exhibitions, auction sales, etc

PS Thanks to Nick Simmons, my favourite American watercolour artist, for his comment below which I have put on Twitter – slightly abbreviated to fit the 140 character quota.

Kingsgate Street, Winchester


It has been such fun painting the street where I grew up – it has hardly changed since my parents moved there almost 50 years ago.

New Sorolla Exhibition

Following the success of the Sorolla exhibition at the Prado around 50 of the works have now been put together in an exhibition at the Bancaja Cultural Centre in Sorolla’s home town of Valencia which lasts until 10th January .

Further information about the exhibition (in Spanish) can be found here

And the background press release (in English) can be seen here

Sadly, the exhibition only contains about 50 paintings (as opposed to the 100 at the Prado) and appears quite focused on the Hispanic Society’s Visions of Spain panels which, personally, I do not feel radiate quite the light of some of his smaller works. particularly his beach scenes.

But that is only my personal opinion and if you are in or near Valencia then I would certainly recommend a visit – the Panels are still staggering pieces of art – the idea of painting on such a vast scale with a team of models and still getting such an overall feel for the various regions of Spain is pretty impressive in itself – and I do love some of the Panels – the Tuna Catch and the Palm Grove for example are both wonderful paintings.

To view my posts on the Sorolla exhibition in Madrid follow the link on the right side.

Back to Cricket



Despite England’s worryingly poor showing against New Zealand I have remained loyal to my cricket theme – and have just finished this new picture for my exhibition in Winchester next March.

At least now we only have to beat Australia to get to the final!

Postscript – sad about England!

Le Prix du Foie Gras


I was pleased to learn today that I won the Prix de la Office de Tourisme – a hamper of Foie Gras and other regional delicacies – at this year’s Soreze Salon for this picture of Jesus entering Jerusalem.

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the weekend’s prize-giving as I was dancing the night away at a truly incredible 50th birthday party of a great friend over near Cannes – it’s a tough life!

French Cafe Painting

French cafe painting
After a hectic summer driving around UK visiting friends and family I have finally managed to get back to my paints – and I chose this scene from Revel market to get back into the swing of things.

October 2010 update – I have just completed a new painting of this cafe looking from the other end of the arcade – you can view it here

Rowing Painting

Iain Vellacott Rowing Painting

I have just completed this painting of a rowing eight.

The painting measures about 65cm x 90cm and is one of the series of sports pictures that I am doing for my exhibition in Winchester next March.

I never rowed when I was at school but I love the sight of an eight powering down the river and wanted to try to capture the speed, power, co-ordination and symmetry.

Carcassonne Vernissage

Friday evening was the opening of the Kaye Gallerie Summer Exhibition in Carcassonne.

This is me standing in front of my painting "Morning Paddle" with my one of Nice Promenade in the background.

As well as some great paintings by Aldo, I loved Tracey Rowan’s recent paintings of San Fransisco and Toulouse.

The exhibition is on until 1st August.

Squinting at Everything

I spent Friday and Saturday on an excellent 2 day life painting course run by Aldo Balding at his studio in Castlenaudary.

As well as being a wonderful painter, Aldo is a natural and inspiring teacher – and his advice and encouragement is behind much of my progress over the past few years.

In painting a different model from life each day Aldo reminded me of the importance of squinting to identify the tone (on a scale of 1 to 9) of the various shapes.

I feel that I must now look like I am doing a rather poor impersonation of Clint Eastwood as I walk around Revel squinting at everything!

The Sorolla Exhibition is Stunning!


The Sorolla exhibition that Rosie and I visited in Madrid last week is without doubt the best exhibition I have attended – over 100 of the most stunning canvases, including most of the best known ones, all brilliantly displayed in the new part of the Prado.

The exhibition is open until 6th September and I would urge anyone who likes Joaquin Sorolla’s oil paintings to book up immediately – I promise that you will be bowled over by the quality, the light, the colours, the edges, the compositions and the scale of some of the canvases (one of my favourites, the Tuna Catch, measures a whopping 3.5m by 4.8m!)

You need to book entrance places online. We booked for 2 days running both at 9.30 to try to get in before the queues.

Details of the exhibition can be found on the Prado’s web site, click here

To check the availability of tickets click on the “Tickets in Advance” tab on the right hand side.

We stayed at the Prado hotel which was about a 10 minute walk away and was quite sufficient – although do ask for a quiet room. There were lots of great bars and restaurants within a couple of minutes walk of the hotel.

There is an excellent new book to accompany this unique exhibition but we found that the reproductions in the hardback edition (only available in Spanish) was better than the English paperback version – so we lugged a copy of both home with us on Easyjet!

Winchester Exhibition 2010

I am flying over to the UK this week to spend 4 days in and around Winchester Collage – watching/studying cricket matches, music concerts and other aspects of daily life of the historic school – in preparation for an exhibition that I shall be holding in the school’s Angelus Gallery next March (2010).

I grew up within the College and spent 5 very enjoyable years in Beloes in the mid 1970s.

Many artists have painted the historic architecture and very attractive grounds of the College but what I am hoping to do through my paintings is to bring out the underlying “spirit” of Winchester.

Winchester Football painting

This is an oil painting that I have just completed of a game of Winchester Football, a mix of rugby and football played at Winchester College where there are nets and ropes down each side and the rules say that you must always kick it as hard as you can!

Our French friends have been fascinated by this painting and are eagerly awaiting the chance to put together a team that includes Frédéric Michalak and Thierry Henri as “Kicks”!

I have posted a couple of other paintings of the College on my web site at – click on the “Winchester 2010” tab on the left hand side.

A note from the Logistics Department

Morning WalkA day of moving paintings around today – I am taking 4 paintings to Carcassonne for the Kaye Galerie’s Summer Exhibition (including this one) and then on down to Leucate near Narbonne to pick up some paintings following my recent Sol y Fiesta exhibition.

I hadn’t realised how much admin and logistics there was involved in being an artist!

Following my nose


Yesterday I went looking for cows sitting under trees in the hot weather that we are finally enjoying as a subject for a future oil painting – I am in a bit of a “cow phase” of my art at the moment.

Just past Dournge the traffic was stopped by a group of people herding about 30 horses and donkeys across the road.

I managed to park the car, grabbed my camera and set off in pursuit but they were going so fast it took me about half a mile to catch up.

It turned out that they were from La Ferme d’En Goût which rents out pack donkeys and horses for people to take with them into the mountains – they even have some gypsy caravans pulled by wonderful old carthorses.

What an adventure that would be!

And today’s “promenade” was to take the animals up to a field that the organisation owns about 2 hours into the mountains – for a holiday of their own before they enter the busy summer holidays.

You can see details of La Ferme at

They were all great people and were very welcoming and I ended up walking for about 2 miles up these steep mountains tracks – in my sandals.

I need to look at the photos that I took later today to see whether I can find one that could form the basis for a painting.

Examples of my recent Paintings

I thought that I should start by adding some examples of recent paintings so that if you don’t like my paintings you don’t waste too much time!


This is my nephew playing in the waves at Dinard after a great evening last summer.


I love painting French cows and they seem to sell pretty well!


This is the cafe in the Galerie du Nord, adjacent to the wonderful market that takes over Revel every Saturday.   A couple of people have said that it would be better if it were in focus (!) but I am particularly interested in how light can be exaggerated in this way – so watch out there may be more of these to come!

The Boules Players

I love painting people playing boules – the light, the atmosphere, the concentration …………..

You can see more of my paintings on my web site by clicking here

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