Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Cliff action

I love it up on the wild, rugged Cornish cliffs. You really feel in touch with the elements and the scenery is quite breathtaking. It doesn't always necessarily translate well into painting material so it's important to try and find the right sort of spot that provides an interesting painterly subject. I tend to find it's the bigger, abstract shapes/design that is most important and you can find some really dynamic potential at places like Levant, Pendeen and Botallack. The wind can be an issue, along with the sun, but I tried to find spots on the shadow side of rocks (umbrellas aren't very practical on the exposed locations). This little clip (sorry, not great quality) was taken on my camera on one such perch after completing a study at Levant and gives a sense of what it's like up there:

I did two paintings on different days from the Levant cliffs (click images for larger versions):

'Towards Pendeen from Levant', 10x13in, oil on board

'Levant cliffs', 10x13in, oil on board

More cliff action was had at Botallack. Tim and I both took on the Crowns and again I found a spot in the shade behind some rocks to stop the sun shining on the work surface:

'Crowns at Botallack', 10x13in, oil on board

'Zawn, Botallack', 8x10in, oil on board

I really enjoyed painting this little Zawn with Tim. The light moved round fast but we couldn't resist it after being revived by a brew from Tim's Kelly kettle!

Tim lights the Kelly kettle which serves us well, accompanied by some much needed chocolate biscuits to boost our energy levels. At Levant there is another Zawn (Trewellard) which we figured would look good against the light in the late afternoon sun. I decided to give it a go and was pleased with the end result:

'Trewellard Zawn', Levant 10x13in, oil on board

As with a few of the other paintings, I found the palette knife was quite useful for suggesting the highlights on the water. The type of marks and the clean application of paint served the purpose better than the brush in certain circumstances. As a contrast, the darks were kept as transparent and unfussy as possible.
I feel quite at home painting by the sea. Here's a slightly dodgy little clip of the scene as I was wrapping things up.

A couple more action shots from the end of the trip. 

This shot of Roy made me laugh as it looks like he's using a pink cocktail umbrella as a sun shade :)

Tim, is that umbrella actually doing anything?

Roy painting a view of Land's End

Tim perched on the rocks painting the 'Irish Lady'

Tim and Roy towards Land's End

The sun sets on another great trip but hopefully it won't be too long before the next one.


  1. Amazing!!! Great paintings! And some really wonderful pictures!!!

  2. Cheers Adebanji. One day soon you'll hopefully be able to join us on one of the trips. You'd love it!

  3. David, as always your blog is like a brief visit to the United Kingdom. The paintings and scenery that inspired them are breathtaking. I loved the little movies but would have enjoyed them even more with a bit of narration. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks Douglas. Good to hear you enjoy the posts and that it gives you a sense of what it can be like painting out in the landscape over here. I agree about the movies...they were a bit of a random experiment and I ought to try and figure out some approaches to make them more watchable. I might try using a tripod next time too :)

  5. Proper action going on here! Again, you really captured the spirit of the place and sense of light in those paintings. Great to have the videos too. Great pictures of everybody but you should put more of yourself! We will forget it is your blog;) Or maybe it is because I wasn't there to take the best shots?? Take care.

  6. Thanks Valerie. The videos are really ropey but I hope to improve the quality in future. I wanted to give a small flavour of what it's like up on those cliffs. Ha, yes!....I kept asking Tim to take a photo or two but he was so focused he kept forgetting. Next time I'll have to nag more and there is no doubt your absence led to a big dent in the action shot supply chain :)

  7. I can't believe it's a year since I bumped into you along the same bit of coastline. I would have loved to have joined you this year, but I had a small group painting en plein air in Speyside Scotland... it was absolutely superb... like you had fabulous weather, so much better than we could have imagined. It was my first time properly painting finished works in acrylics outdoors and I loved it!
    If you're interested you can see where we painted and what we did
    Best wishes, Carole

    1. Thanks Carole! Yes, amazing how time flies! Looks like you had a fantastic trip at the other end of the British Isles! I've done a few acrylics outdoors but have found the paint dries really quickly. Do you use a stay wet palette or some sort of retarder?

  8. Please - take me with you next time!!!
    By the way, it looks to me as though Roy is levitating while painting on the beach - maybe the little pink umbrella is a magic umbrella...?

    1. Yes...now you mention it Haidee...Roy does like he's starting to lift off :)

      For sure, I'll keep you posted on any plans for a return trip to Cornwall in 2013!