Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Heading for the harbour

We had a couple of damp days (actually, it was more like being in a cloud at times) but we were determined to get out and see what could be done with the easel and brushes. The sheltered harbours of Newlyn and Mousehole seemed like a good choice as there would be scope for some colour with the fishing boats and associated paraphernalia. I actually enjoyed painting in these conditions. Despite the rain, the light was steady and the subtle greys made a nice backdrop for the notes of colour we were presented with.
This one was painted in the harbour at Newlyn (click images for larger version):

'Boats at Newlyn', 8x12in, oil on board

I was pleased with how this turned out. On the last couple of trips to Cornwall I didn't feel as though I'd done Newlyn and Mousehole justice so I was determined to try and make a decent go of them this time round. It was quite a complex subject and I tried to keep all the colours and tones in harmony as best as I could. It's busy without being cluttered and the composition seems to hold firm. Funnily enough, the big boat on the left had been moored for 2 years as it needed repairs but two thirds of the way through the painting they moved it towards the dry dock! The fisherman that told me seemed quite amused :)

The weather got a lot worse in the afternoon so I opted to buy some fresh mackerel and herring from the nearby fish shop and paint them back at the ranch. It took a while to find an interesting composition but eventually (and with the light fading fast) I settled on this arrangment on the kitchen table by the window.

'Two mackerel and a red herring', 8x10in, oil on board

On the next rainy day we headed to Mousehole and I managed to find a couple of spots that kept me quietly tucked away from the crowds. The first was done on a section of the harbour that sits at the bottom of the wall and makes an ideal spot to work from.

Tim working relatively undisturbed with my kit alongside

Master of all he surveys at Mousehole!

I started with a small 6x8in study to try and tune in to the colours and tones. The foreground boat was handy in providing some much needed tonal contrast since the rest of the scene was quite subdued.

'Misty rain, Mousehole', 6x8in, oil on board

I then decided to move down onto the sand after the tide had disappeared (as it does very quickly when it turns). I enjoyed this one, off setting the local colours of the boats and buoys against the dark sea wall. A couple of fishermen turned up to potter on their boats and add a spot of life.

'Boats at rest, Mousehole harbour', 8x16in, oil on board

Roy was perched nearby (you can see the yellow boat I painted in the background before the tide went out) and postioned right where buses and dustbin carts needed to reverse (hence the squeeze on the kerb). He managed to escape the traffic but not the curious onlookers!


  1. Boats at Newlyn -Terrific!!! Great pics too!

  2. Thanks :) Really enjoyed painting those boats, despite the drizzle!

  3. Love the boats and the fish still life is very nice too, a bit different from what you usually post.

  4. Thanks Douglas. I enjoyed painting the boats on this trip and the steady light from the rainy conditions seemed to help in some ways. We couldn't get too comfy though as the tide still moves so quickly! I wanted to buy a crab to paint but they didn't have any left in the fish mongers :)

  5. An other great post. I'm loving all the stories, it feels like I was there! I like them all but the last one of the moushole - boats at rest - is a real stunner. Great strong composition and those fishermen are suggested in a lovely way. Well done with coping the greyness and the weather and finding backup subjects when needed (mackerels). I find it is always a good sign when an artist can cope with any situation and doesn't only stick with blue skies and sunsets!

  6. Thanks Valerie. Glad the stories give you a flavour of what it was like. Those fishermen just popped up at the right time and in the right place. Funny how those little events can happen like that and that's what makes plein air painting so enjoyable...going with the flow and seeing what the moment brings. I think it's good to try different subjects and not just settle for the blindingly obvious. The change in conditions provided a good opportunity to do this and it was nice to come back with a bit of variety in the subjects.