Langstone Mill Reworked

Langstone Mill

This is probably the last painting that I made of Langstone Mill, a couple of years ago, and which sold easily, being a popular subject. I am going to do it again, but differently. I have been painting what I call “panoramics”, which are completely horizontal subjects in  frames about 60 centimetres long but only 21 high, and they have been successful so far

I have done this twice now, and both sold relatively easily. One was of the beached fishing boats at Beer in Devon, and the other was of Bosham Harbour, again an old favourite. They can both be viewed on my website davidharmerwatercolour.co.uk.

Langstone is a little way down the coast from Bosham, and again a place beloved of sailors and painters alike. Another salt water creek, a misty and lonely shoreline even today, the place exudes atmosphere, especially when the weather is on the turn. I am hoping to do a totally different sky to anything I’ve done before. So far I have just started some drawing work but nothing to show as yet

It does have some history. It was a medieval commercial port for the neighbouring town of Havant, trading in exports of leather goods, especially parchment from Havant whilst engaged in coastal traffic generally. It was the link with nearby Hayling Island, either by causeway which was built by the Romans from chalk and flint, we are told, or by boat bringing in supplies to the priory on Hayling at the time.

Barges went out from Langstone to the sandbanks, where they grounded themselves and loaded shingle until the tide turned and they headed back to port. This was sold up and down the country for road mending, and carried on until the early c20.  Skeletons of some of these old hulks can still be seen sticking out of the mud, and again add to the atmosphere

There are two pubs, and the older of the two, now called The Royal Oak, commemorates the escape of Charles Stuart after the Battle of Worcester. He and his comrade in arms, Henry Lord Moffat hid in an oak tree to avoid capture. After making their perilous way south to the coast, they reached Lyme Regis in Dorset where they tried to get a ship to France. Without any luck, they made their way eastwards port by port, and eventually came to Langstone. No luck there either, although they did eat oysters at the pub,and as everyone knows, they met someone in Shoreham further east, who ran a coal barge and he took them to France.

Yet another romantic story attached to Langstone to add to the atmosphere. Let’s hope I can catch some of this in the painting

 

Advertisements

History of Langstone Harbour and Warblington,Hampshire Coast

Watchman's Hut Warblington.JPG

Just as a change from painting, whilst I work on my Alhambra picture, before I have anything else to say about it, I am at the same time, researching the history of Havant in Hampshire based on my postcard collection, for a talk I am due to give to my local history group in Guildford in November

Havant is an unprepossessing town. I say that as someone who grew up there and therefore has an affection for the place. Nevertheless there is plenty of interesting history around and about. I keep within the confines of my collection, and on the eastern periphery lies Warblington, a Saxon foundation, a remote place by the side of a marshy creek, eerily quiet when I was a boy and still the same today. A week or so back I went to the old church to take some pictures to back up my postcards, and wandered around the churchyard. We were within half a mile of the Havant by-pass with its buzz of traffic and yet within the churchyard you could hear a pin drop. In my mind, I went back to my childhood when I first discovered this place as a schoolboy

The church is c13 and something of an enigma. Why build it there in the middle of nowhere? It still stands in the middle of nowhere. We are told there was a Saxon settlement, and the word Warblington stems from the name of the chieftain, a woman apparently, and there are Saxon elements in the foundations of the church . The church served nearby Emsworth, which still doesn’t explain why it was built at Warblington. On the site of a holy place perhaps? We don’t know

More interesting than the church despite its age, are the two huts, in diametrically opposed corners of the churchyard. If I say they are c19, I am sure you will guess that they had something to do with bodysnatching.  They are nightwatchman’s huts used to watch out for bodysnatchers who had posed  a huge problem until the Anatomy Act of 1832, which required anatomy teachers to be licensed, which effectively put an end to this lucrative trade. Also the medical fraternity were allowed the bodies of executed criminals or even donations from poor families.

In the churchyard of this creekside church are gravestones of sailors drowned at sea, and I quote the one I have always found fascinating.

Sailor's Gravestone

This the gravestone of William Palmer, and perhaps we should start with the inscription

This is in the memory of William Palmer that lost his life and his vessel going into Dublin the 24th February 1750 aged 38 years

The carved relief is intriguing and the work of a very skilled mason. Even the rigging stands out and would need very careful carving. Huge waves are rolling and the ship obviously capsized. The object behind the capsized vessel, I cannot make sense of

So we have a local mariner, a master mariner with his own boat, most likely involved in coastal trade as so many around here and Langstone were, and with a small crew, perhaps ambitiously attempting the crossing of the Irish Sea, not to mention the treacherous rocks around Lands End, and coming to a sad end. Or perhaps this was his regular run, and he was unlucky due to treacherous weather conditions. Dublin was very English in those days, and would be looking to regular supplies of day-to-day items, so one can easily imagine mariners plying a regular and profitable trade.

There are several Palmers buried in the churchyard. William’s wife is buried in the same grave but I can’t make out the dates. I imagine them being a prosperous family, judging from the quality of William’s gravestone

I remember seeing this stone when I was about twelve. It fired my imagination then and still does. It doesn’t look any different

I had thought to talk about Langstone close by, but another time. I have painted Langstone often but never Warblington which perhaps I should add to my list

Bosham Creek, the finished painting

Bosham Creek

This is the finished painting, which I happen to like, although I will admit to one or two scary moments

I have managed to keep to a rather limited palette. Cadmium Yellow which I mentioned before and Ultramarine Violet, together with Transparent Brown which I softened with Violet. This is still my favourite shadow colour. I used Vermilion for some distant red clouds behind the trees, and also for the red paint along the hull of the hulk on the beach.

After getting the sky about right or so I thought, as the dark clouds coming in from the sea might have been darker, I put in the distant buildings along the shore line of Bosham village. The steeple of the Saxon church, so well-known as to need little introduction, is probably the only building that needs to be recognisable, although I have done my best with the others, plunged in shadow as they are.

To the right are two beached boats, one clinker built and the other which looks as though made of fibre-glass, so not the easiest to convey in watercolour. The dunes with some coarse grass rise in front of them, and make a convenient break

The beached hulk is one of those things that are fun to paint. So many details and textures with rusting metal and flaking paintwork on the timber. I mentioned that someone had daubed white paint on the prow, which I could have left off but decided to include. I daubed masking fluid on and then overpainted several times with the dark brown mix. When the masking is removed, then that should look like white paint over rough brown planking. That was the plan. I hope it has worked.

The real test of course is getting the light right and the highlights in the right place. I hope I have done that. The camera again has bleached out the colours, try as I might, so in reality the shadows are much deeper, and appear more convincing. Oh well, in the scheme of things, not the worst problem one could have.

Going back to the Bosham Painting

Bosham Underpainting

We are going back now to before the last two commissions, which I was pleased to take on, challenging though the last one was. I still await the final judgement from the client on that one, as she comes back from holiday on the 16th only, so fingers crossed under the table on that one.

I had started this painting of Bosham Creek, or rather drawing, with just the main elements in place.

So far I have added two dilute coats of watercolour across the page. Violet running into yellow, mostly with a watery coat of vermilion over the whole thing when bone dry. I dashed some pure yellow pigment into the area where I think the sun is setting. In the photograph this yellow shrieks at you. In reality it doesn’t. I am often intrigued how the camera sometimes disagrees with the human eye. Possibly one of those paintings which won’t sell on the internet, alongside a few others.

The hulk on the beach, I am hoping will provide most of the interest. The detailing on this sort of subject is usually a lot of fun, and tends to draw the eye. I noticed in the photographic reference, that someone has daubed white paint along the prow. I have used masking fluid here in a dry-brush fashion. Going over this later with dark brown pigment, and then removing the masking, should leave the illusion of white painted roughly over dark brown. I hope that makes sense. We will see later if it works or not. I have done it successfully in the past, which is of course no guarantee of success in the future

Since taking this picture I have started to darken the clouds and will gradually go on, wet over dry until I like what I see, hopefully. That will be the judgement, not getting them too dark or yet too wishy-washy. We shall see, and much still to do.

Sketchwork on Bosham Harbour

DSCF4101

I have been away for the last five days or so, in Spain with perfect temperatures of around 20 with gentle sunshine plus sea air. I’m back now to something like 12 and wet so feeling cold. Yesterday I rescued my garden and allotment. Today I am catching up on other things like my blog

I started last time with an indistinct photograph of Bosham Harbour, which I have done so many times, but this time in evening colours.  Before I went away I prepared some sketches and finally decided on the one which I have illustrated.

I have kept the distinctive distant shore line without much detail. That broach spire identifies the village of Bosham unmistakably.  From my archives I have included a different boat, which will add something to the foreground.  There were beached boats in the photograph which in my opinion did little, although I did include a couple of these to close off the side of the painting to he right.

I think I will use a mixture of violet, yellow and brown for the painting. I am more interested in how the colours work, than in the actual image, so the result may look like an impression of Bosham rather than a record of the harbour itself.

Before leaving this subject, I will mention that I am setting up an exhibition in Leatherhead, in the theatre on Monday morning.  Leatherhead is a town about twenty miles distant, so new territory, which is always exciting

Coming back to the Bosham painting, I will finish with another image, which is the basic line drawing transferred to watercolour paper. We are now ready to paint.

DSCF4100

A different aspect of Bosham Harbour

DSCF3969

i think I may have mentioned ad nauseam that Bosham Harbour with its ancient church is a favourite subject for painting, and is widely known

If I am preparing for an exhibition, I usually like to have at least one view of this beautiful little place. The problem is that everyone wants the same shot, across the harbour with the church against the skyline, so painters, like me, are continually looking for a way to paint this view, and yet make it look different every time.

I came across the attached photograph a few months ago, which interested me. As you can see, it is a gentle evening shot, with some bright sky and some very deep silhouettes. The details are blurred, which is not something I usually do, but found myself intrigued nonetheless. The effect could be impressionistic, which again is not something I usually do. The other thing I liked, is that, when translating this into a painting, one could use a very limited pallette, which I find improves the effect very often. In this case, we are looking at yellow and violet basically, which generally work together very well.

I haven’t used these two colours for a while, so the idea is attractive

I am not sure about how I feel about the beached boats in the immediate foreground. They are certainly an aid to perspective, which I can appreciate, and yet in your face just a bit. I think I will draw some of these separately on tracing paper and chase them round the composition to see what I like best. I have been through my archives of boats too, and have sketched one or two of those, again to see what works.

Despite what I said about getting away from detail for a change, I don’t want meaningless shapes either, and unlike photographers, artists can choose what goes into a composition, which gives us an advantage, so I might be able to get away from that rather shapeless foreground.

I think there will be quite a lot of work with little bits of tracing paper, before we hit on the right composition, so we will see what happens. Yet another journey into the unknown.

Finished Bosham Panorama Painting

Finished Bosham Panorama

and there it is waiting to go into its long frame

That will then complete a collection of twelve paintings for the coming exhibition at the Guildford Institute from 19th of this month

Since the last post, really the work was purely detailing, using dark brown, white and cadmium red. I have drawn in some buoys and odd details like that

I bought a new detail brush the other day, designed by Matthew Palmer. It has a large bole which holds a good supply of water, but the tip comes to a very fine point, which produces a line rather like you’d expect from a pen. I think it was designed for painting very thin branches and twigs. It also works well for fine rope work, and window frames

Huge sigh of relief now that the exhibition collection is finished, all but framing the last one

I can now look at catching up with a few paintings for pleasure. I love doing horses and have made some initial sketches, from which I think I can put an interesting composition together. I have gone back to drawing by eye instead of using a grid, which not only saves time, but also is comforting to know I can still do it ( or think I can)

I will publish the horse drawings at another time

Bosham Panorama for the Long Frame

Bosham Panorama Starting to emerge

Emerging from the sea mist almost

This is the start of the panoramic painting for the long frame which I mentioned recently, which I am hopeful for, but we shall see

For sky and sea I used a mix of phthalo blue and cobalt. For the sunset sky and reflection in the water, I have used a mix of Cadmium Orange and Permanent Rose. I was not pleased with the initial result, as the sky came up very orange indeed. I applied coat after coat of Permanent Rose, wet on dry, which when dry, appeared to have made very little impact. Eventually the sunset turned pinky red, and I quite liked the effect of the pink over the blue. Where the blue had gone on sparsely, the pink soaked in, and started to look like pink clouds on the blue sky. I am not sure whether this shows in the photograph.

In order to get the effect of the low sun on the rooftops, I will need to glaze the buildings with something like Light Red and if that goes too brown, then a thin wash of Cadmium Red. Sparingly, of course, as that is powerful stuff.

There is masking fluid to come off, where white buildings have caught the strong light. I should have mirrored that in the sea, but forgot, but I think I can rescue that with White Gouache.

Dark shadows to go in with dark Brown which will accentuate the light, I hope. Also some small boats for which I will use the same blue mix, and white masts, should add to the effect

I am hoping so, as exhibition time draws near

Fishing Boats at Beer, Devon Finished Painting

Fishing Boats at Beer Finished

This is the finished version of the cinemascope painting of the fishing boats pulled up on the beach at the village of Beer on the Devon coast

I painted this group before some years ago now, as more of a full-size painting with the horizon and sky included and much more beach. I painted this detail, I may have said, as I have a frame that size, and as it looks like a driftwood finish, should work quite well. I still have a mount to cut, so when it is framed I will post an image, unless it is a total disaster.

This was one of those serendipitious moments that artists get occasionally. We were walking along the promenade with friends, some years ago now, and stretched below was this line of boats. The colours were the attraction, of course, and I painted these boats later on from my photographs.

Walking round art shops in the village later, I noticed that everyone else had the same idea. Obviously a favourite spot and a favourite subject for local artists. Still I sold my painting, and subsequently was commissioned by someone else to paint something similar

This should be the last painting going into my July exhibition, so if there are no more exhibition pressures, I might do some fun things for myself. We’ll see

Line Drawing Preliminary Study for Boats on Beach at Beer, Devon

Boats at Beer Drawing

Rather a faint study from the collage of photographs that I posted a few weeks ago, but sufficient, I think to form the basis for a painting. I have done this study before only differently, so this painting will be the usual journey of discovery that they all are, that fine line between success and failure

I mentioned before, I think, that this shot is from a visit some years ago now to the fishing village of Beer, on the south Devon coast. The fishing boats are dragged up on the beach, and make a colourful line-up, a mixture of bright reds and blues

This is the first time that I will have done this painting as a long horizontal shot. It should work, he says, hopefully. I will have to cut a different mount, though. The original one with the four slots just is not going to suit

So for now, it just remains to titivate these drawings and check that I have everything, including all those small props like chains, anchors etc. Then I can start mixing the underpainting

We will see how we get on