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

Painting something again

Padstow Harbour

I sometimes have to stop and think what to paint next. Often I have a list in my head, but when i come to the end of that, then I have to think of what I need in my website

One of my lockdown tasks has been to sort through many years of reference photographs. So many years that many of them were turned into prints rather than being stored more conveniently on the PC. The collage above of Padstow Harbour is a typical example

I painted from this probably ten years ago. I have been to Padstow in Cornwall on several occasions, and I like the harbour there very much indeed. I have painted several different shots, and I am pleased to say that they proved popular. The painting from the view above, sold on its first showing and after that I moved on to other things.

Looking through these photographs reminded me of it, and I thought I would like to tackle this shot again, but of course differently. My style has changed between then and now, hopefully for the better. Not necessarily so, as sometimes I look back at old paintings, and wonder how I got a particular result, and could I do it again

On this occasion, I am going to do a similar composition, but work the changes hopefully with different colour combinations. Last time, as I remember I did local colour which was fine, but now I might try something a little more ambitious. I needn’t tell anyone if it fails

I shall start on some sketchwork soon and after that we’ll see what happens

Erquy in Brittany: the Finished Painting

Erquy in Brittany

The painting is now finished, in that I have started to fiddle, which is a good time to stop

Getting the sand/mud to look waterlogged has been a problem, and I have settled for what I’ve got, rather than end up with a surface which looks dark and unconvincing. I did mask out some tyre tracks which had filled with water, and then touched them in afterwards. They seemed to work well enough.

I have taken the mask off the lighthouse, and painted that in, with its red domed top, that attracts the eye. Two tricolor flags on the boats give another opportunity for small dabs of red too. I tend to use vermilion now rather than cadmium red, which seems to work.

Some of the figures and dinghies have bled into the wet, which I have allowed, as I think that gives a hint of reflection.

I think I have taken it as far as I dare without spoiling, so will leave it now as complete.

I have a new commission arrived, a house portrait, which is highly convenient so will start on that soon

Erquy: the Drawing

Erquy in Brittany

I have done some drawing and also started to paint as you can see. Nothing startling, just the background. The lighthouse has been masked out, so it can stand out stark white with red at the very end

I have also masked out some of the tyre marks in the sand which are full of water, hopefully to recreate that image. The composition itself I have altered slightly, but only slightly, as really not much improvement is necessary. The fishing boats have been beached at low tide, which immediately offers an interesting picture for watercolour. There is light coming from the left, offering shadows as well as possible reflections.Some boats were left out, and one different one added. Otherwise the scene is much the same as it was in 1972

I needed some human activity so added the two figures in the foreground. They are actually copied from the figure in the distance. I had to guess the perspective, so I hope it looks convincing. Both figures are bent over as though hauling on some imaginary chain, so a little bit of narrative

I have added shadow to the boats just to give them form, and to guide me when I go to paint them in. One or two extra dinghies as well. I may well have to add somehting small in the centre, but I am not sure yet.

That is as far as I have got. So far so good I think

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

Preparatory Drawing for Bosham Painting

Bosham Harbour in Evening Light

I have made a start. Bosham, always a favourite subject for exhibitions, and I don’t have one ready for my next exhibition which is in October, having sold Bosham Creek at the Guildford Institute.

The drawing is based on an old postcard, which gave me part of the composition, and helped with the relationship of the boat in the foreground, with the shoreline. The other boats I have added from my own library of sketches.

I have added some dark ink lines on the shadow sides of the two boats, and have masked out a tiny boat in the background.

I started to lay in a wash as a base colour. I used Cobalt Blue together with Vermillion. As they mixed on the paper, they have made grey as a basis for shadows to come. Still plenty of red in the sky and sea, although I can play with that when it has dried right out.

I have dabbed out a mark for the evening sun and its reflections across the water, which at the moment is not easy to see.

I am hoping this wash will be enough for background. I don’t want the sky competing with the foreground, but until the painting has dried right out, it will be impossible to say

St Katherine’s Dock Commission

This is the drawing so far of the boat I was commissioned to paint. Rather faint I am afraid, not only because it’s in pencil but also because she has had a wash of phthalo blue and cobalt mix. Some orange and vermillion went in to the tops of the boats to give that evening sun look, but that will need strengthening

I have already sketched this scene just to realise the composition and to get that agreed. This is the real thing. Just a tad apprehensive, as although I have painted boats enough times, this would be the first boat portrait that I have tackled.

So much of the boat is white, and not even many shadows to relieve the situation. The vessel is beautiful, streamlined and highly polished, in fact all the things that don’t work so well in watercolour. A rough-textured old steamer, dirty and rusty, with plenty of smoke really lets the watercolourist’s imagination run riot. 

But we don’t have that. We have a sleek yacht instead. In the background of the reference photograph which I haven’t published here, are a row of houses, which were not only superfluous, but actually crowded the composition, and didn’t look good against the boats. I have left them out altogether, and I have not regretted doing so. The depth of the painting has increased whilst still preserving the look of a marina

So for the moment I shall just carry on building up the colours on the items that matter. The yacht centre stage of course is the star attraction and needs to come forward

We shall see how this goes

Work Started on the Fountain of Love Commission

Fountain of Love Detail

I have been working on the drawing of the Fountain of Love commission, which has been testing to say the least. I have just included a detail here, otherwise the image would be too faint to show

The photograph of the fountain itself was included in my last post, and I may have explained that the fountain is in the grounds of Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire. The house is magnificent and is now an hotel but the grounds are run by the National Trust and are extensive.

Over the ages, Cliveden was associated with powerful women. One of the more recent being Nancy Astor, American heiress as well as an MP in Westminster, possibly the first woman MP. More recently still, Cliveden was the scene of the scandalous liaison between Christine Keeler and John Profumo, a married government minister

Again I have been balancing two commission projects, as I have just finished the sketch study of a rather lovely yacht in St.Katherine’s Dock, just to agree the composition with the client before going on the finished painting. I drew this with the help of a grid but there is something about the sleek almost feminine lines of a boat which seem to elude me, no matter how many measurements I take.

Dancing Girl Sketch

As usual the camera leaches out the colour but the essence is there. I did find it useful to make a sketch on this occasion. So many mistakes could be made and were made. At least these have been cleared out of the way, hopefully not to reappear

There is something about highly polished surfaces like plastic or metal, which don’t work well in watercolour. Give me some rough old wood or rusty iron any day, and that will look realistic enough to touch. Still, if you owned a rusty old tub, you probably wouldn’t want it commemorated in a painting

We will await the client’s comment to see whether I have got the composition right as a first step