Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Another day in paradise (North Norfolk in the sunshine)

Another quick jaunt up to the North Norfolk coast and I managed to get four paintings done, accompanied by some unusually hot sunshine which I've been trying to make the most of over the last few weekends. It's hard to find anywhere shady along this stretch of the coast so I knew I'd be needing plenty of water and sun cream. I also took my painting umbrella which I had clamped to a second lightweight tripod which I have standing next to the main one (which holds the pochade box). I then tie the umbrella stem to the main tripod with a shoelace for extra support! Seems to work if it's not too breezy.

'Blue boat, Brancaster Staithe', 11x14in - oil on board (click images to enlarge)

I was rather taken by this boat in the sunlight and and the winding path of posts that served as a nice lead in to the distance. I fancied attempting something a bit different so thought it was worth a go. The shadows seem to get better as the session progressed although there was some high cloud which muted the effect at times. The building in the distance had a nice orange roof which sits well against the blue boat. I had to work fast on this and focused more on the light effect than trying to nail every detail with the boats. I took care to suggest a bit of foreground texture without making it too distracting so as to pull the eye down to the bottom of the painting. I might be tempted to do a bigger version in the studio at some point, perhaps tweaking the composition and refining the drawing.

'Late afternoon, Morston Quay', 10x13in - oil on board

I love painting at Morston. It's pretty quiet (apart from the squawking seagulls) and the rhythms of the boats and water are very appealing. This is a 'classic' view (above) I guess, looking towards Blakeney in the distance. It's important to make the composition work with the position of the boats and the flow of the water pattern so I mapped these basic elements in early on to ensure that the design would hold together. There were some nice shadows to work with on the foreground boats.

Below is a piece done at Blakeney. I was a little hot and bothered at this point, having set up along the quay front but abandoning the attempt after finding it too congested (with people) and the boats were spinning round in the tidal flow. I opted for a quieter spot, looking back at the town with a couple of boats moored on the bank in the foreground. The boats were still moving a lot but I though I had a better chance with the grounded pair in the foreground. Again, something a little different I thought and a nice moment when a nice chap came past and started picking something from the wet mud. I asked him what he was collecting and told me it was samphire. Apparently, it is quite a sought after ingredient for fine dining. Anyway, I knew I had a title for the painting!

'Samphire picking, Blakeney' - 8x12in, oil on board

After painting the first piece at Morston I turned round and spotted this subject which I felt had potential. I moved the boats around a bit but at least they weren't going anywhere! The biggest factor here was the quick pace at which the light was shifting. I had to work fast and tried to keep the tones crisp and the colours as fresh as possible. The shadows were lovely, particularly the one raking across the foreground from the boat on the right. The sky, whilst having a blue component, was warmed by the light and needed to be harmonized with the overall colour scheme to make it work as a whole. Enjoyed painting this and it may well have some potential for a larger piece in the studio. Apparently you can take a boat out to Blakeney Point from Morston and get off at the museum which is housed in the old lighthouse building. From there you can walk to a rather picturesque beach. Tempted to give that a go on another visit.

Another enjoyable outing to Norfolk, albeit a brief one. Hoping to be back again soon!

'Morston watch tower, evening light' - 11x14in, oil on board


  1. Unos cuadros preciosos, todos ellos; alegres, luminosos, vitalistas,... Enhorabuena.

  2. Muchos gracias Antonio!

  3. Superb 4 paintings David - absolutely masterful handling en plein air. I can only admire the painterly quality of your brushwork, gorgeous!

    1. Thanks Peter, these seemed tougher than the previous weekend but I was keen to take on some different views. That's what I love about it up there, the more you look the more the subjects seem to emerge. Blakeney was BUSY!

    2. Yep, endless supply of subject matter, that's for sure, and I agree about Blakeney - never appealed to me - just too touristy!

  4. Hi David,
    I was at the harbour of my hometown Ostend (Belgium) yesterday to paint and I must admit that seeing that you are able to pull off 4 such nice paintings in one day makes my respect for your work even bigger.

    As we say in Flemish (it's actually French but wth): Chapeau!

  5. Thanks Johan, very kind of you....I Googled Chapeau :) Some days go better than others but it's all about being there and getting stuck in I guess. Often an element of luck involved in terms of the light, tide etc (although I try to give myself a rough idea) but in many ways that can be exciting, not really knowing what you'll encounter. Hope you had a decent day painting in Ostend.

  6. Are you kidding me? 't Was Awesome! :D
    I don't paint outside that often. The sheer amount of information when painting en plein air makes me slow down. I should do it a lot more, no excuses really. It's also so much fun and such an intense experience I will surely try to find a way to increase my outdoor painting hours. Time management is the key I guess.

    Been reading through your blog and I'm quite inspired now.
    Thanks for sharing, hope you will continue.

    Have a nice day,

  7. I meant to comment on this straight away and then I forgot. I think this is amazing work you've done here! It is subtle, yet full of energy. My favourite is the second one, where the lovely white of the boats smoothly contrast with the purple/blue winding water. One of your best! If you ever fancy a swap remember me!

    1. Thanks Valerie, noted on on the swap situation :) Glad you like them. Have you ever been to North Norfolk? I think you'd love it up there. Seago painted there a lot too. I can see you'd enjoy working with all those winding water've always had soft spot for a nice s-curve composition :) Hope you and the little one to be are doing well, bet you've been following the Royal birth with interest...hard to miss it on the news at the moment!