Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Old Harry Rocks

A couple of weeks ago we had a scorching weather weekend so I decided to take advantage and head for the Dorset coast for some painting around Studland Bay. A few years ago I visited Old Harry Rocks with David Bachmann, Tim King and Valerie Pirlot and we were all pretty awestruck by the sight of the gleaming white chalk stacks. They really are a majestic sight in the sunshine and there was plenty of that with the temperature nudging 32 degrees.

To ensure not getting burnt I was smothered in factor 50 and pretty well covered up, including one of those desert caps that has material on the back. I no doubt looked ridiculous but at least I wouldn't go home looking like a lobster. I also had my new custom umbrella rig which works well with the tripod/pochade setup and provides shade for the painting/mixing surface. It was still pretty brutal in the heat and I took loads of water to keep hydrated.

Over a day and a half I managed to get five paintings done. I thought the subject lent itself well to a wider format and had a go with a bigger board (12x24in).

'Late morning, Old Harry Rocks' - 12x24in, oil on board

It was interesting to see the contrast in the later evening light with warmer light and the shadows cast from the other side. I ended up painting this after trudging the 20 minute hike back from the car park having realised I'd lost one of my hats somewhere on the headland. I don't think I would have returned if I hadn't lost the hat and as an added bonus I found the hat snagged on a tree branch I'd ducked under on my way down previously! 

'Late evening, Old Harry Rocks' - 7.5x15in, oil on board

I enjoyed painting this little beach scene and started off with the people in the foreground as I suspected they might pack up and leave (which they duly did after about 30 minutes). Towards the end someone lit a barbecue in the distance and there was a lovely subtle contrast of the cooler smoke in shadow and the warmer sunlit parts. 

'Lazy summer afternoon, Studland South Beach', 6.5x9.5in, oil on board

In addition to having the activity of the distant boats there was the added bonus of having some smaller vessels and kayaks around the rocks themselves. It's actually quite a noisy spot with all the jet skis and pleasure boats buzzing around. I tried a couple with different, slightly deeper formats this time round.

'Kayak explorers, Old Harry Rocks' - 14x18in, oil on board

'Blue sail, Old Harry Rocks' - 8x10in, oil on board

It took 5 hours to get home with traffic piling back from the coast and my air-con wasn't working either. Still, well worth it for an enjoyable weekend painting by the sea :)

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Cornwall - Padstow area

I recently spent a few enjoyable days painting with friends down in Cornwall and we were based in the Padstow area which has lots to offer when it comes to inspiring coastline. The weather wasn't too bad with just the one 'in a cloud' day.

As always, Bedruthan Steps didn't disappoint and is always a challenge to paint

'High tide, Bedruthan Steps' - 12x16in, oil on board  

'Receding tide, Bedruthan'  - 6x8in, oil on board

'Beacon Cove, near Bedruthan' - 8x12in, oil on board

Portcothan proved a real find and the cliffs around the bay are superb.

'Headland at Portcothan Bay' - 8x12in, oil on board

'Jutting cliff, Portcothan' - 12x16in, oil on board

For the one below I made a 10 minute dash from the cliff to my car to grab a bigger board having eyed up the view. It seemed to demand an bigger effort and was worth the run in the mid day heat!

'Portcothan Bay', 10x22in, oil on board

Below shows the painting in a frame that has the new gilt effect hand finish I've been working to achieve on some pieces. It needs careful masking with low tack tape so it takes a fair bit of time but I like the overall effect.

'Treyarnon Bay, late afternoon' - 8x10in, oil on board

'Constantine Bay' - 5x9.5in, oil on board

Polzeath has a lovely wide beach and lots of surfers which seeme to work nicely as a subject

'Surfs up, Polzeath' - 11x14in, oil on board

'Surfers at Polzeath' - 8x16in, oil on board

'Early evening, Polzeath' - 6x8in, oil on board

'Gerrans Bay, Portscatho' - 8x20in, oil on board

'Waves rolling in, Portcothan' - 8x16in, oil on board

'Clifftop perch, Trebarwith' - 9x11.5in, oil on board

'Low tide, Camel estuary'  - 6x14in, oil on board

'Low tide, Newquay harbour' - 8x14in, oil on board

As soon as I left Cornwall I was missing it. Can't wait to be back!

Monday, 8 May 2017

Portugal 2017 - paintings

The Algarve in Portugal is such a great place to paint. Inspiration is easily found amongst the dramatic cliffs and beaches and at this time of year the vegetation is quite lush with many wildflowers and more unusual looking cactus, yucca, palms and olive trees.

I loved the colours of the rocks and sand which had a unique warmth in the sunshine. Even in more overcast conditions there is much to offer. The painting below was done from the pier in Lagos and perched on the right is the Mayor's residence. I was lucky with the timing of the tide with this one.

'From the pier, Lagos' - 8x16in, oil on board

Here's one below done just after the above, again from the pier in Lagos. I wanted to capture the warmth from the ochre/sienna stone in the cliffs which takes a bit of getting used in painting terms. The shifts in colours/tone were often very subtle, as was the aerial perspective.

'Warm cliffs, Lagos beach', 8x10in - oil on board

Another one from the pier in Lagos below. I was determined to use at least one of the larger boards I'd managed to get into my luggage and this was done on a more overcast day which still provides lovely colours from the rocks, sea and sand. The mayor's house is perched above cliff.

'Low tide, Lagos beach', 9.25x23.5in - oil on board

We found an interesting subject with the rooftops of Luz in the foreground where I painted alongside Tim and Valerie whilst the others headed down towards the beach.

'Looking over Luz', 8x12in - oil on board

It was quite a challenge to make the warm cliffs recede, especially on overcast days. It ended up being very subtle shifts in tone and colour and often with surprisingly little blue (perhaps reduced by the warmth of the local colour in the stone)

'Sea stack, Praia Donna Ana', 11x14in - oil on board

There was an old fort perched on the headland at Sagres and myself, Tim and Haidee opted to paint it whilst the others were camped just down the road. The light was quite strong as it was mid afternoon and I was flagging in the hear a bit. After a couple of false starts I managed to make some sort of  composition which just hinted at the fort in the top right. The distant headland and fort were both very long and flat so it was a tricky subject to deal with. 

'Fortaleza de Sagres', 8x10in - oil on board

I hiked around loaded with full kit in the baking heat for too long before attempting the one below. Having marched along the cliffs I thought I'd just try the beach below but it was about 150 steps down a long wooden staircase! Still, the subject was a real treat and I was tucked away at the back of the beach, keeping topped up with factor 50 as the sun was fierce and at it's highest point. I loved the way the rocks seemed to have subtle reflected light bouncing off from different sources.

'Bathers at Praia Da Camillo', oil on board - 10x12in

For something a bit different I painted a couple of pieces around the garden and this arrangement below caught my eye with the lovely white walls creating strong angles to contrast with the softer plants.

'Garden archway', 11x14in - oil on board

The piece below was painted on a very dull/wet afternoon and I was lucky to find a spot that was vaguely sheltered under a tree. However, the rain intensified and eventually I struggled to see what was on the painting or palette. Still, glad to have captured something from the moment.

'Terrace with plants', 11x14in - oil on board

Karl found a great spot with some lovely olive trees and I joined him for this small one below. 

'Olive trees, Cama Da Vaca', 10x6in - oil on board

'View from Cama Da Vaca', 8x16in - oil on board

We had a cloudy day in Arrifana and the flat light wasn't ideal. After a fruitless walk down to the beach I decided the others had the better idea staying back at the top of the cliff. I eventually settled on this view of the main headland with it's accompanying stack at the end.

'Beach at Arrifana', 8x14in - oil on board

This one below is a small 6x8in and needed a bit of resolving afterwards to restate the foregroud. It was nice to capture the glinting light which appeared momentarily, as did the flash of yellowy warmth on the slice of rock in the centre. The coast path seems popular with walkers and understandably so.

'Early afternoon stroll, Cama Da Vaca', 6x8in - oil on board

Some of the most dramatic coastline we saw was at Praia Da Cordoama which we also viewed from a loftier perch before heading down closer to paint. I love this sort of subject and you feel very in touch with elements whilst at work. In terms of painting experiences it doesn't get much better in my book 😊

'High sun, Praia Da Cordoama', 10x14in - oil on board

'Praia Da Cordoama', 8x16in - oil on board

Portugal 2017 - a few photos

Recently I was kindly invited by David Bachmann for fantastic week of painting with friends on the Algarve in Portugal. It's fair to say I enjoyed every single minute and it was great to paint and socialise with friends and soak up the wonderful coastline. It was a real tonic to get out with the easel and paint in the sunshine (well, with the odd bit of rain here and there) after what had seemed a very long and drab UK winter!

Amongst the group were David Bachmann, Tim King, Karl Terry, John Stillman, Tony Dakin, Mo Teeuw, Haidee-Jo Summers, Valerie Pirlot, Andrew Roberts, Mike Richardson and Rob (I can't recall Rob's surname - cellist with the Seville orchestra). I thought it would be nice to share a few group/action appears we were generally either painting or eating/socialising 😊

I'm perched on the cliffs here painting at Praia Donna Ana 

Stunning views to be had on the wilder west coast (Praia Da Cordoama). Being on the Atlantic coast it has certain similarities with the Cornish coastline with dramatic cliffs and beaches.


Tim attempting to convince us the view was best from a more precarious perch!

A well earned lunch break in the midday sun.

Valerie working on painting having just flown in earlier that day!

Tim at work

Karl in his element, painting in the gardens

Tim somehow found his way to this seemingly inaccessible spot (above) from where he produced a lovely painting on the house and surrounding foliage.

Valerie, Tim, Mo, Karl and Tony lined up for action

Haidee, Rob and Karl on the cliffs near the house.

David taking in the wide angle view of the beach at Lagos.

A nice leisurely lunch.
(left to right Tony, David P, Karl, John, Andrew, David B, Mo, Haidee, Valerie and Tim) 

A happy bunch enjoying a stunning view on the west coast.
(left to right Rob, Mo, David B, David P, Haidee, Tim, Tony, Karl, John and Mike) 

Tim getting a little respite from the rain with my improvised umbrella rig.

Paintings in the next post.