Friday, 17 June 2016

Cornish trip (part 2)

Port Isaac offered some shelter from the less favourable weather and the harbour area has a small number of boats which seemed to be positioned in exactly the same spots as where they were this time last year. These two boats were tilting nicely and I was rather taken with the wet puddles in the sand


Boats at low tide, Port Isaac (10x14in, oil on board)

I'd spotted the subject of the hillside (shown below) and returned when it was raining to find it actually had more appeal in the foggy murk. Quite tricky with a narrow tonal range and subtle colour shifts but an interesting subject to tackle. I needed the umbrella up for this one! 


Nestling in the mist, Port Isaac (8x12in, oil on board)

Another rainy day, this time at Newquay harbour. The harbour is like a little oasis against the more commercial/modern backdrop of the rest of the town....a good option for the damp/grey days.


Three boats, Newquay Harbour (10x9in, oil on board)


Incoming tide, Newquay Harbour (12x16in, oil on board)

A few from the cliffs/rocks which are always impressive (but difficult to paint, especially when it's breezy!)


Early morning, Bedruthan steps (12x16in, oil on board)


Beach at Bedruthan (11x14in, oil on board)


Headland at Bossiney (11x8in, oil on board)

I had a go at a couple of larger ones (14x18in) at Bedruthan, trying to focus on the moments of sunshine and the dramatic effects it has on the rock formations. I struggle more with cliffs when there isn't much sunlight to work with as everything can end up quite dark and drab. I've always fancied painting a really big cliff subject to give the sense of being there, perched on a cliff edge, looking down in wonder at the water and rocks. It's not an easy thing to do though and I've yet to achieve it but might try something in the studio based on some of these works.


From the cliff, Bedruthan (14x18in, oil on board)


Rocky headland, Bedruthan (14x18in, oil on board)

Back to the beach for some brief sunshine, this time at Polzeath where the runs of water in the sand made some nice patterns to work with. Enjoyed working on a slightly larger (8x20in) letterbox format.


Low tide, Polzeath (8x20in, oil on board)









Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Recent trip to Cornwall (part 1)

I recently spent a very enjoyable week with friends painting along the Cornish coastline (Padstow region). Amongst the crew were David Bachmann, Mike Richardson, John Stillman and Karl Terry. We stayed in a nice place at Trevone Bay and whilst the weather was somewhat mixed there was still a feast of great subjects to get stuck into.

I was glad I had a chance to catch the evening light just a few short steps from where we were staying. The view had tempted me on a number of evenings but the weather & tide wouldn't play ball (figuring out what the weather's doing is one thing but the tide adds another layer of complexity!). I do enjoy these sorts of subjects when you have to work quickly and with an intense focus to try to capture the essence of a fleeting moment. Some tiny figures popped up on the rocks and I gently hinted at them to help with the sense of the 'bigness' of the subject, even though it's done on quite a small panel.


Evening light, Trevone Bay (6x14in, oil on board)

A similar sort of experience at Treyarnon Bay, ideal for a smaller format (6x8in) since the scene changed so rapidly!



Evening light, Treyarnon Bay (6x8in, oil on board)

In a similar vein, another moment of sunlight was grabbed at Trebarwith Strand with this rapid 8x10 study. I tried not to muddy the colours, taking care to focus on the tonal variations.


Silvery light, Trebarwith Strand (8x10in, oil on board)

I think because the weather was so mixed, when the sun did appear I was often inclined to focus on the effects of the light. It makes such a dramatic difference when the sun comes out! A couple more from Treyarnon bay where I spent an enjoyable few days with my family last year too, giving it an extra special fondness as a subject :)

This one was a more subdued light but it meant I could work on the more subtle colours and at a slightly less frantic pace.


Low tide, Treyarnon Bay (8x14in, oil on board)

A stronger light in this one below, throwing up broader tonal contrasts


Sun sparkle, Treyarnon Bay (8x14in, oil on board)

We half dodged the rain to try and get something down at Daymar bay. I had an umbrella to stave off the worst of it and right at the end the red barge peaked round the headland with impeccable timing and positioning!


Daymar Bay (7x14in, oil on board)

It's useful to have beach figures to provide a sense of scale against slabs of rock like the ones at Trebarwith and Constantine. I found the 'letterbox' well suited to a number of subjects but I like to mix it up with other formats always so end up taking far more boards than I need. My kit is never light!


Trebarwith Strand, (8x16in, oil on board)



Incoming tide, Constantine Bay (6x14in, oil on board)

A slightly larger piece (12x16in) in a more conventional format from Constantine. With the way the light and tide change (amongst other things), I find 12x16/18x14in are pretty much the largest I can manage in a single session. I'd love to try bigger though, perhaps over a couple of sittings but it's rare to get the same sort of conditions and I often feel the 'vibe' has changed when I return to something a second time.  


Rock pools, Constantine Bay (12x16in, oil on board)


Below is a photo overlooking Bedruthan - from the left Karl Terry, John Stillman, myself, David Bachmann and Mike Richardson.



More from the trip to follow.








Saturday, 9 April 2016

Wet panel carrier

Using variable sizes of panels when out painting can cause a few headaches in terms of storage/transportation. There are a few commercial options (mostly seem to be available n the US) but nothing seemed to be quite what I was after. In the end I decided to make a custom carrier that will hold my favourite sizes in one box and after plenty of head scratching and multiple visits to the DIY store this is the end result.


It's 16in tall and has widths for 12in, 11in and 8in. That seemed quite a nice combination as I can store 12x16, 12x10, 11x14, 8x16, 8x12, 8x10 & 8x6 so that would hopefully cover enough formats to work with. 

It's a bit heavier than I'd imagined but I think anything that size will have a bit of weight whatever the material (if it's going to have some strength too). I used corrugated plastic sheets and the plastic panel holding grooves seemed worth trying as they had the right shape for the sort of panel depths I use (3mm mdf). I'll need to make sure the panels are cut to the right widths as the ridges are only 4mm deep but that should be enough to allow for minor variations on board size. 

I opted for a hand carrier strap (as opposed to a shoulder one) and attached it with lots of glue/strapping to secure it. It's got a velcro fastener so it can be undone or adjusted if necessary. The variable widths were built up with strips of foamboard glued together into solid blocks and on the outside I used plastic edging strips wherever two edges meet to provide more strength.




Lots of gaffer tape to seal everything up! 


I think it'll probably be too bulky for foreign trips (I usually use matchsticks on the backs of stacked boards for those) but it should be fine for domestic purposes and will hopefully make the carrying of wet panels a bit less problematic when using different sizes on a day out somewhere.