Sunday, 17 July 2016

Staithes

Earlier in July I joined EAGMA members for a few enjoyable days painting up in Staithes. The weather wasn't very kind so painting opportunities were a bit hampered but we all made the most of things and it was good to see a part of the UK coast I've never explored before. Everyone made me feel very welcome and we stayed in an excellent Georgian apartment just a stone's throw from the harbour.

I tended to work small as the weather was so changeable. I often think the rapid switches from sun to heavy cloud/rain are some of the most difficult to deal with when working outdoors. It's comparable to painting a still life and having someone keep turning the lamp on and off....infuriating!!

Anyway, here's a few that made the trip home....

Almost got blown off the harbour wall by the incoming squall whilst painting this one below and lost a couple of brushes and my turps pot into the rocky depths below. I was perched on some giant boulders to get the elevated view of the 'sparkle' and nearly got blown off. Those distant clouds were actually heading straight towards me and I was rather taken by surprise at how quickly and violently it suddenly whipped up. At least the painting survived...just!


'Bright sparkle at Cowbar Head, Staithes' - oil, 6x8in. 

Small size was the only option here really as the light/shadows moved so fast....


'Evening light looking down the Beck, Staithes' - 6x8in, oil on board. 


'Morning light towards the harbour, Staithes' - 8x10in, oil on board


'Artist painting at the Smugglers' - 11x15in, oil.

This one above is my friend Andrew King who kindly let me paint him whilst we sheltered from the deluge. We had our fair share of wet weather and I got thoroughly soaked painting this one below.
  

'Low tide and drizzle, Staithes' - 8x10in, oil on board. 

I had to work lightning fast for this one below as the light was fading. Managed to capture something which was a relief as I'd spent most of the day wiping off disastrous efforts in the pouring rain!


'Late light on the terrace, Staithes' - 6x14in, oil.


'Cowbar wharf, Staithes' - 8x16in, oil on board


'Down in the Beck, Staithes' - 11x14in, oil on board


'Odin, Port Mulgrave' - 12x16in, oil on board

Below is the abseil route I had to take to get down to paint the boats and clutter at Port Mulgrave!




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.