Starting a Painting of Langstone Mill

Langstone Mill

Still proceeding as though real exhibitions are going to take place, I am looking for one more painting for the Denbies Exhibition in December. Langstone Mill is or was a favourite, although I haven’t painted it for a while now, so thought I would try it albeit in different colours and moods

So far I have got as far as a basic drawing on tracing paper which I will transfer to watercolour paper, and then see where I go with it

I think I might try a deep sunset which has worked with paintings of Bosham. Langstone is quite well known. It used to be a port from Medieval times until the early part of the 20th century, and was very important in its day. It was known as a haunt for smuggling as so many of those little creeks on the Hampshire coast were. I always thought that they would bring ashore brandy and tobacco, and possibly they did, but the big earner was tea. Tea was wrapped in a waterproof cover and stowed in barrels, which were roped together to make a raft. Small boats from Langstone went out and met foreign luggers mid Channel, and towed these rafts back to port. Plenty of local people happy to make storage available in return for a cut. There is even one instance of the local rector storing contraband in the church cellars

So quite a romantic place, which is quiet now. The old mill is still very paintable. The tower is all that’s left of the old windmill. The sails were removed in the late 19th century, and the place left to rot. The building far left was the old tide mill, and I remember as a boy watching the water from the mill pond thunder through. Rescued in the 1930s by local artist Flora Twort, the old mill was fully restored for residential use, and has been inhabited ever since. The architect was a Freud, son of Sigmund Freud. I have sadly never been invited inside but from what I can judge, the restoration has been very successful.

The mill has been associated with artists and writers ever since. Let’s hope they approve

Boats on the Beach at Beer in Devon

Boats on the Beach at Beer

I went to Beer some years ago when staying with friends. The fishermen there pull their boats up onto the beach, and arrange them in a row. I’m not sure whether deliberate or coincidental, but the result is very colourful, and for years photographers and painters alike come here to record them

I have painted them before but from a different angle, and I don’t have a photographic reference for this painting, so I have had to imagine the perspective. I have always found it difficult to get the colour right for a brightly coloured painted finish cast in shadow. I generally put shadow in first, so a coat of blue or violet left to dry, and then the local colour glazed over, usually works. It doesn’t work with these strong colours, so I have had to experiment with different blues and reds to get the result. It took a long time and even now I am looking back and wondering

The result is sunny and bright, however, in these worrying times. I have simplified a lot of the detail, so would class this painting as more impressionistic than realistic. I find it cheerful to look at, so hope others do too

Bosham Harbour in Sussex: the finished painting

Bosham Harbour in Sussex

Before I put the background wash in, I scrubbed literally a good deal of the yellow away. On the original painting the yellow blends nicely as a sunset colour. In this photograph it stands out again, and I fail to see why. I can do no more with it, so must show it, warts and all.

The yellow scrubbed back down almost to white was probably the colour I was looking for originally. I did a faint yellow wash on the front of the white buildings, and that worked well too, but lost on the photograph. Oh well!

The composition extends further to the left including more boats and more sunset. I could put this in a long frame and it would work well. It could only be shown in a bricks and mortar exhibition though, but I have one booked in December, subject to virus spike. I will give it a showing on line first and see how it goes. If no interest, I will keep it framed for local shows

In the meantime, I will start thinking about my next subject

Bosham Harbour: along the Causeway

Bosham Harbour from the Causeway

I am starting another painting of Bosham, this time from a different angle. This started because I want something to use in one of those long frames I bought. Bosham has worked well in the past but I can’t repeating that same shot, so this time I am standing on the causeway which floods at high tide and which gives good possibilities for an interesting composition

So far I have drawn the cottages on the water’s edge and the church behind. I am not sure whether you can make that out and will include a close up at the end

What is that splash of yellow? Something I haven’t tried before. I have laid down the basis of a low sun across the water. The plan is to wash over that with the sky and sea colour. I may well live to regret doing that, but sometimes you have to try something a little different.

I shall wash over with a mix of blue and vermillion, and hopefully get a low lit subject. We shall see.I will leave the close up of the drawing

I hope that is a bit clearer. The wall on the corner is foreground. The posts mark the edge of the road which will be flooded in this picture

Padstow Harbour Painting Completed

This is the completed painting of Padstow Harbour in Cornwall, a very well known and popular place. It is a fishing port and consequently well known for good sea food restaurants. The well known Rick Stein comes from Padstow and has his own restaurants here, not to mention a very good fish and chip shop, and I believe he also had his own cookery school where he trained people in the fine art of good cuisine. Some years though since I have been here, and my information may be a little old.

The reference shots for this painting go back a few years, and I may have mentioned already that I have painted this view before but some years ago. I sold it so can’t compare and in those days was a bit careless about photographing my work. As I remember though this painting is very different to that one

I used a different palette for one thing. Not long ago I bought a new paintbox called Graphitint by Derwent, and I rather like them. I am not here to advertise and I haven’t been asked to, but I used some of these colours on the buildings around the quayside. What these paints do, and there are a dozen of them, different shades, is to granulate, so in other words, the pigment doesn’t dissolve completely but hangs in the water. When the water dries the pigment stays on the paper, usually in the tooth of the surface, and provides a sort of gritty effect. That may not sound attractive the way I’ve described it, but it works very well for stonework on buildings. The colours are a little muted but I don’t mind that. Other people can judge for themselves.

Otherwise quite a time consuming painting, working on the boats, which is quite enjoyable for a while, and then I need to rest. The reflections took a long time building up the depth of colour, and eventually I needed some coloured chalk for the very deep shades

Anyway the painting is finished. It will be in time for my redesigned web site, which I am looking forward to seeing one day

Now perhaps a short break from painting whilst I consider my next subject

Partway through the painting of Padstow Harbour

The Under Painting

This is the stage that I have reached so far, namely the under painting on which hopefully to build

I have chosen a different colourway to anything I have used before, mainly as an experiment and perhaps hopefully to learn something. If it doesn’t work then I may have wasted a painting. I did this painting between 15 and 20 years ago, and just used the local colours. This time I wanted to inject some sunshine and maybe some mood into the painting. The photographs if you remember my last post, were taken in flat light, so no shadows and frankly rather dull

I used a base coat involving a mix of phthalo blue and viridian for a green/blue which I used for the sky and also for the sea in the foreground. I moved from sky colour to a peach for which I mixed orange and yellow and added rose. I quite liked that colour for a change. The sky moved to peach for buildings and boats and then back to sky colour for foreground sea. Remember I haven’t done this before, so could turn out badly

I have started to work on some of the buildings using blue with burnt sienna plus a dab of raw sienna to look like lichen on the roof. I have also drawn in some masts which I missed when I did the initial drawing

That is as far as I am so far. Other things demanding my attention as usual, but I quite like doing a little at a time. I may have said that I am completely overhauling my website which is time consuming but I think will be good when it is done. More of that another time

Bosham Sunset Finished

The Finished Painting
About to come off the board

The Bosham painting is finished at last. At the end of the day, there wasn’t too much that I could add to the painting on the last post

I completed some details like the spinnaker on the nearest boat. This is now plumper and more realistic. I have added more suggestions of reflections from this boat, which is already in shadow, but some more red around the stern gives a highlight

I have my eye on the next project, which will be from my recent Scotland trip. I haven’t done anything Scottish as far as I can remember, usually too busy with the Mediterranean, so perhaps it’s time to correct that

The subject will be the Eilean Donan Castle which is near the Kyle of Lochalsh, the mainland side of the Skye Bridge. It is a beautiful spot. I have started already doing some sketches just to work out the composition, and when I have something to show, then I will publish

The other good thing was that I received a commission this week to paint a hotel in Bath, a beautiful city, mostly Regency in style and built in a lovely honey-coloured stone. Commissions have been quiet this year and this is the first, so very welcome. It will be one of those paintings that will be enjoyable to do, and again more of that later.

Bosham Harbour at Sunset: part finished

Bosham Sunset not quite finished

This is the painting so far, which wants tidying up, and at the moment I am just looking at it, and wondering the best way to go

I’m thinking that the nearest boat needs some more detail, but it is also supposed to be in deep shadow, so detail obscured which contradicts

I am going to work on the spinnaker, which needs beefing up. I am not a sailor, but even to me, the spinnaker is rather puny. Quite a lot of sail gets wrapped around this so it needs to look a good deal fatter than I have shown it

In the shadow of the nearest boat, I would like to see more red, which won’t necessarily be correct, but I would like relief from the grey. I have tried to convey the sun catching the stern

Other than that I shall just keep looking, whilst all the time trying not to fiddle, which is a cardinal sin in watercolour.

I am also itching to start on something fresh, a castle in a loch, which I saw in Scotland a couple of weeks ago, which is very dramatic, so I may wrap Bosham up and move on soon

Langstone Mill Finished Painting

Misty Morning in Langstone

Well, this is the finished painting in its frame which I have entitled Misty Morning in Langstone, as I have deliberately kept the colours pale to give that effect. That is my story anyway. In reality it works well, I think but photographing it was difficult. I had to wait for really flat daylight so as not to get reflections in the glass.

I quite like the trick of leaving out the horizon line which gives the scene a more misty look. I read this somewhere not so long ago.

Maybe another time I will try and deepen the colours a little, but always the danger that the misty effect might be lost

I am just packing up paintings for the Leatherhead exhibition which starts on Tuesday and goes on for two weeks. We will see what that brings. Nothing last time, but we live in hope

A very rare happening a couple of weeks ago, I actually sold a painting from my Artfinder site, thus proving that everything comes to he who waits. The painting was of the Bosphorus Waterfront, and went to a collector in the United States, which I am very pleased about

Langstone Mill Part Finished

Langstone Mill Part Finished

When this is finished I hope the misty look will still be apparent. I would like the painting to have an early morning look, the problem being, the more detail that one adds, the sharper the image becomes. All I can do is finish the painting and see which way it goes.

As you can see, colour has been added since the last post. I have used two pigments initially, Vermillion and cobalt blue, and also a mix of the two to produce a grey blue for the shadows. I have also brought in good old Burnt Sienna for the brickwork.

To the right, out of shot are three small sailing ships waiting to be finished. I have deliberately not put in an horizon line, to accentuate the mistiness of the scene. That is the plan anyway.

Details still need to be added to the buildings like verandahs etc, and soft interrupted reflections in the water. Masking fluid wants to come off, revealing the marker posts which are red and white like barber’s poles, as well as the flag post which will be white with a red flag. The boats might get a red pennant each. Not forgetting the seagulls which have to be added, as the only sign of life in this remote spot at a very quiet time of day.

If that works I will be quietly amazed!

A pleasant surprise a couple of days ago! I made my first international sale from my Artfinder site, Bosphorus Waterfront, which has been bought by a client in the US of A. It has only taken me two years to achieve this! The painting can be found on my website davidharmerwatercolour.co.uk should you wish to look

Now I am on tenterhooks about it arriving safely, and am tracking periodically. The package is currently at New York City Gateway, and needs to be transshipped mid west. They estimate delivering on Monday so fingers crossed for a rapturous welcome. The client has 14 days to return the painting if not delighted, which must be really demoralising for the artist, but we will see