Sketchwork on Bosham Harbour

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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.

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A different aspect of Bosham Harbour

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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

Marzamemi, Sicily: the story so far

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The painting of Marzamemi, the fishing village in Sicily, which I have started and which is in its early stages.

Not much sky in this paicture which is useful, as I wanted the roof tops of the buildings to remain sharp if possible against the skyline. I used my old friend, the Mediterranean mix of Phthalo Blue and Cobalt for the sky, not wetting the paper beforehand, so that the colour didn’t run all over the place

I have tidied up the buildings to a certain extent and let the colour of the buildings bleed down into the sea. The sea colour is the same as the sky. I let that dry hard before going any further.

After a day or so, I picked up the painting again, and put some more colour into the sea. I avoided going over the reflections of the buildings, but just went over the rest with sweeps of sea colour, to give the effect of breeze ripples, I hope

I went right across the boats, risky I know but I think all the colours to be used on the boats will cover what I have done

Since taking this photograph I have introduced indigo into the foreground boats, for the detailing and deep shadow. I really want these two boats to come out at the viewer and command most of the attention.

Toying now which colours to use to be faithful to the original whilst at the same time, I want the combination to work as a painting. Winsor Blue perhaps which I haven’t used for some time, red along the waterline and white gouache. There will be some trial and error I think, so we shall see.

Every now and then I repeat that I am not an art teacher and have no qualification other than experience. I am very happy for people to watch, and if  what I do is helpful, then great. By the same token, I like to learn so alternative suggestions are always welcome

Marzamemi, Sicily : Composed Drawing

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Using the boat photograph and various other photographs which I took at the time, I have put together quite a simple composition, which I hope nonetheless will be effective

As a drawing, it is none too exciting, but when painted up, I am hoping that these bright, Mediterranean colours will provide the stimulus

With the exception of buildings on the far shore, nearly everything is blue or white. Different shades of blue, too, which will be challenging ( please excuse that overworked word) to do successfully as a watercolour

Textures will be interesting too. The boats in the foreground look as though their hulls have been reinforced with fibre glass, not too professionally, so that consequently the surface of them is quite rough. How to achieve that with a watercolour painting, I am not sure, probably with gouache applied thickly to give an impasto finish. Anyway we can play around with that.

We only had a short stop off here. Just enough time for a coffee, in one of the lovely little cafes in the main square, which was charming, and a walk round the harbour, which is a mix of boat repair workshops, restaurants and boutiques. That may sound an unlikely mix but seemed to work well.

Marzamemi is fairly close to Syracuse, the history of which is fascinating, and a chapter in itself. Around that eastern part of the island, we had spent quite a lot of time visiting spots used on location filming for the TV cop series Montalbano. If you are not familiar with the series it was broadcast from 1999 until now, something like 11 separate series, so very popular. Marzamemi was not one of those places, so something of a relief in a way. Don’t get me wrong, I have watched the series at home, and it is very good, and we knew what we were going to look at before we joined the tour, but there was a lot of it

As I say, I enjoyed watching Montalbano at home, except I would have preferred subtitles to a dubbed voice. Dubbing never works for me, always slightly out of sync, and you don’t have to be a lipreader to see the face doesn’t match the dialogue. I much prefer the Scandinavian crime dramas like “The Bridge” which we get which are subtitled.

But I am going off the point. Enough to say that Marzamemi was delightful and I look forward to doing this painting.

Bosham Harbour and Church: the finished painting

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The finished painting finally!

There wasn’t too much to do since the last post. The boats had to be detailed and their reflections put in.

The boat in the foreground had a dark blue spinnaker tightly wrapped, which is probably the wrong word. I am not a sailor, and although I enjoy painting them, I am not up in boating terminology. The next nearest boat, had a spinnaker in orange and red which was highly convenient for the colour composition. I used a red buoy, and the reefed sail was also red. Again apologies to sailors if I have that term wrong. The furthest boat almost did itself really

So there it is. After the commissioned painting of Bosham worked out so well, I really wanted one myself for the March exhibition. This one, I think, will frame up well. Incidentally this is one of those occasions when the jpeg does not do justice to the original, which is softer somehow.

I have been looking at my list for the exhibition, for which I want fourteen framed pictures in all. I need to repaint the Notre Dame with Pigeons picture in a different mood, probably in bright sunshine and also missing out that dreadful marquee, which will make it look more attractive to people

One of my existing local pictures needs to be reframed, and there is also a painting I want to do of Sicily which I hope will turn out well. With what I have already, I could put fourteen pictures into the field, without doing more

Not that I will stop, of course, because I never do, and anyway there are other exhibitions coming up throughout the year, so still much to do. Inevitably if I have something better, I will change the entries for the March exhibition too

Hopefully in the coming weeks I will be talking about more work as I complete it

Bosham Harbour: continue with the painting

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It seems a long time ago that I touched this painting, and in fact it is the best part of a month, which for me, in between stages this is too long. I have totally lost the thread of what I had planned for this picture, so I shall have to rethink it

We went to Germany for the markets, where I became ill with some virulent chest infection, and then celebrated a family Christmas over three days. Now different branches of the family have flown off to Spain and to Thailand, and so peace descends.After a morning sorting a few things out, I started to look at my easel again, and with confidence surprisingly ebbed away, I picked up my brushes and started to get my mind round the picture and how to tackle it.

If you remember the first post that I did on this painting, you will see that I have added the reflections of the quayside houses and the Saxon church. It may not look much for an afternoon’s work, but that is what it took me

I find with reflections that I do an awful lot of zooming in and out again. That is, I paint a bit and then go to the door and look back. I don’t do a mirror-image reflection, I never do. Some people do and do it well. I like a reflection to look as though it is on water, and not on glass. In other words, it has to wobble a bit, and the colours don’t reach the same intensity as the buildings themselves. But that is me!

I altered some of the houses and gave them a white facade. They were a bit too gloomy, and no distinction between any of them. There were also some flagpoles and masts of boats outside the yacht club to be added.

I am generally happy with the reflections. I think they look like reflections, although one or two need tidying up

The other thing I did was to put shadows into the boats. That has to harden and then I can start on detailing them which will be a long job. I still have to decide on colours. Red for one of the reefed sails and also the spinaker, as that will make a nice reflection. The others to be decided

Decisions, decisions!

Bosham Harbour: the painting started

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Some while ago now I finished the drawing of Bosham Harbour and Church, and I posted that. I left it, as I completely messed up the initial wash. It wasn’t something I could correct, so I abandoned the whole thing. Very,very rarely do I do that, but sometimes it is the only way.

I find in situations like that, that walking way is the best thing to do.  Walk round the block, metaphorically speaking and then come back, otherwise you just get more and more frustrated, and make more and more mistakes

My way of walking round the block, was to do the Conkers painting. Completely different and completely unimportant, I was able to unwind and get myself back into finding the colour recipe for conkers which was in my head somewhere. After all that, my little bit of therapy produced a quite usable painting, and I framed it not so long ago, and was pleased with the result. This will go towards my next exhibition which will be in the Guildford Institute in March, not that far away now, so I need to work.

Back to Bosham Harbour, after redrawing the village with sailing boats, I put in a different wash, and played safe. I have no time to experiment. Phthalo blue and Cobalt produce a nice sky/sea colour and across the horizon a band of sunset produced with permanent Rose and Cadmium Orange. I started the blue wash downwards whilst at the same time starting the sunset colour at horizon level and worked upwards so the two met, and blended comfortably. Tricky using two brushes and two palettes at the same time, but it seemed to work

As you can see, I have just been detailing the church and other buildings in various reds and browns. I needed to get those roof tops really bright, and after several different glazes used cadmium red to give them some zing, so that they looked as though bright red evening sun was bouncing off them.

Still a lot of work to do, on reflections and those boats, but that is to come

Bosham Harbour: Second Version, Preparatory Drawing

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I painted Bosham Harbour in West Sussex as a commission a few weeks ago. I painted it in evening light which I hadn’t done before, and was very pleased with the way it turned out, and relieved too seeing as it was a commission. The colours worked exceptionally well, and I was left wishing that I had something like it, to include in next year’s crop of exhibitions.

Using a number of different photographs, some of my own and some from different sources, especially the boats, I compiled the composition which I have drawn above. The church and houses I have thrown back into the distance, and extended out at the left past the boat house. The boats themselves are entirely different to my previous painting, so everything will be new, which I prefer.

One day I will be stumped as to how to paint Bosham Harbour without referring to something I have painted previously. There are other views, but this is the one people always want, with the church in the background and boats in the foreground. Move along the coast, I suppose, but there is something about Bosham which is hard to find elsewhere. Perhaps it is the historical associations with Saxon kings like Cnut and Harold, with the symbolic Saxon church as a reminder, or maybe just the sheer charm of the place, that makes it difficult to replicate

Anyway, I am going to attempt this composition as a watercolour painting and see what happens. I shall use my previous painting as a colour guide but may still experiment along the way, but still the objective will be to create a painting in evening light

We shall see how we get on