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

A different aspect of Bosham Harbour


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

Langstone: Underpaintings

I mentioned in the last post that I would give the painting a coat of burnt sienna. In fact, I changed my mind and used raw sienna with Naples yellow mixed to give some brightness against the darks that would come.

I did mask out the white-walled buildings, as well as two metal posts jutting out of the water, and for good measure masked out some gulls to give the scene a sign of life.

I also put in some tree shapes as guidelines in sepia ink


Rather a pale wash, so a pale photograph I am afraid. I think you can see where I have masked out in blue, the white buildings, the posts and also the flag as well as the windows on the old mill tower. The tree shapes I put in after this picture was taken but you will see them on the next image.

I gave this coat 24 hours to dry hard. Had I been in a hurry, I could have used a hair dryer, but I prefer natural drying, as then the paper returns to its flat condition. I find if you rush the drying, then the paper retains any cockling that may have taken place whilst wet.

I then mixed a dilute solution of Phthalo blue and Cobalt blue and washed this over the sky and sea. I blotted out some clouds. This coat also had 24 hours to dry.

The next step was to mix up a solution of French Ultramarine blue and Light Red. The trick is to get it not too strong yet not too wishy-washy. That is not easy. I worked this in from left to right, simulating, I hoped, gathering storm clouds. The colour varies depending on the mix from blue-black to deep red. In some places I put pure pigment along the top of a cloud edge to give the impression of strong light behind. To accentuate this, I scrubbed with a bristle brush and clean water, the area the other side of this pigment line. In other words, I scrubbed off the blue to reveal the sienna / yellow. I worked on the clouds adding some colour here and removing some there. I will show the image next


Sadly the camera has taken some of the strength out of the colours, no matter how many times I took this shot, which spoils the light against dark effect

Always an act of faith to go on, at this stage, as mid-painting always looks a bit of a mess, which is why it is essential to finish

Next to put in the trees behind the roof-tops and the shadows on the buildings which will give them their form. I still have to do that, so will post again