Thursday, 19 June 2014

A day in Portscatho

Last week I visited Portscatho on a hot and sunny day. I've been there before but it was a few years ago and thankfully little has changed! It's less touristy than other spots in south east Cornwall and it was nice to find some quiet places to pitch around the harbour. When the sun is out down there the colours are fantastic.

'Harbour sparkle, Portscatho' - 10x8in, oil on board

After the tide had receded (remarkably quickly) I fancied a study of the boats before the water went right out. The colours were superb and I wanted to keep them as fresh as possible in the painting. I must admit there was a lot of drawing to work out with the boats but I went straight in with the paint and aimed for an approximation rather than an exacting illustration. It was the punch of the colours and tones that I really wanted to focus on. Towards the end of the painting the tide and completely gone out and the boats were sitting on the sand but that was a handy point to tighten up a few key lines/edges and spots of detail. I do like the challenge of finding a satisfying arrangement from a jumble of boats and I moved one or two of the boats a bit to try and help the composition.

'Boats at rest, Portscatho' - 11x14in, oil on board

After a bit of welcome refreshment I finished off with a little sketch across the bay. It had to be small as I'd almost run out of titanium white! Again, I wanted to keep it clean and fresh and try to get close to something of the essence of the place.

'Portscatho beach', 6x8in, oil on board

On returning to Looe in the evening I thought I was done for the day but spotted this little boat subject with cracking reflections which I just couldn't resist. I'd left it about half an hour too late really but decided to get something down while I had the change. Within minutes of starting the light began to fade. The aim was to try and get a sense of the light/colours and then perhaps use this as the basis for something in the studio later on.

'Boats at Looe, evening light', 10x9in, oil on board

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Cornwall (Looe) with the ROI

I've just returned from a few days down in Cornwall having met up with ROI members and friends down in Looe last weekend. It was a great painting and social weekend and I stayed on for several days of painting along the nearby coastline. The weather really picked up nicely as the week went on and I switched from woolly hats to factor 30 sun cream. It's surprisingly rugged in places along the coast path, away from the tourist hotspots like Looe, Polperro and Fowey and I enjoyed the variety of taking in both rugged and more intimate subjects such as harbours and boat studies. The plan is to have more ROI events like this where we can meet up, paint and have a good time together. We certainly ate well at a selection of the local restaurants :)

This was my first painting and was done from the pier and Looe with the tide coming in fast. In fact, as I stood with Graham Webber (AROI) we found the water lapping around our feet and whilst I like to be in touch with the elements I'd probably draw the line at painting in the sea! All good fun though.

'Waves rolling in, Looe' - 6x14in, oil on board

Graham and myself trying to ignore the water underfoot.

Painting in a breezy spot with Graham

The ROI crew lined up for painting action

Natalia Avdeeva (ROI) working on here beach diptych!

Ian Cryer (ROI president), happily 'in the zone'

Tim Benson (ROI Vice President), tunes in to the subtle colours

Natalia's dyptich. Nice composition and sense of space in this.

My second little study from the session is shown below. It's rather unfinished in a way but I quite liked the energy/sketchiness of it and decided to leave it as is rather than fiddle and kill the freshness. Very much an attempt at establishing the 'essence' of what was in front of me without getting fussy. Just as well really as I could have got into all sorts of trouble with those dark foreground rocks!

'Towards St George's Island, Looe' -10x8in, oil on board

I painted this one around the corner during the same weekend at it was a bonus when the school of sailing boats appeared.

'Sails ahoy, Hannafore beach' - 8x16in, oil on board

From the same spot I painted this slightly smaller piece with sunnier conditions. I like the tonal weight of the wall on the left which is balanced by the activity of the boats on the right.

'Sails and sunshine, Hannafore beach' - 6x12in, oil on board

Sunday, 1 June 2014

White tulips

These Spring tulips didn't last very long and I'm glad I caught them when I did because within 2 days the leaves had dropped off! They were about 10 metres from my front door on a patch of public garden that is maintained by a nice bunch of volunteers in Stony Stratford. From a painterly point of view I quite like them just as they're fully open and the flashes of yellow are fully visible but you only seem to get a short window when they're like that. I keep reminding myself, if you see something worth painting grab it while you can!

'White tulips', 10x13, oil on board

The flowers bobbed about in the breeze so I had to focus to make some sort of sensible arrangement of shapes (both positive and negative spaces). After 'tuning in' you start to get a feel for the petal shapes. I liked the rhythms/patterns and the notes of yellow liven up the colour scheme. I wanted to have varied edges, some soft, others crisp and used an initial wash of red to compliment and break up the mass of green in the leaves. Considering the tulips were white, the petals had a surprising variety of tone and colour. The light was generally overcast, hence the cool notes in some of the tints. After about an hour and a half the sun had come out and the light bleached out the subtle colours so it was time to pack up and have a cuppa.