In my early teens there was an army surplus store called Malcom Mitchell’s in my hometown where you could buy anything from large petrol cans to great coats and army boots. Everything was piled up to about ten feet high on either side of the shop, with a corridor running down the middle. If you wanted some boots a finger would be waived vaguely in a certain direction and you would scale the mound to find what you were after.
Occasionally, you would arrive to find the shop shut. A notice in the door stated: Gone Fishing with the Boys.
When we were in Brittany recently we were looking for the footpath and, taking a wrong turn, stumbled across these guys fishing on the rocks. I suddenly remembered the old shop and notice. Ironically I needed the army boots to wear when digging lugworms to sell to the fishing shop for pocket money.
When I saw this scene I was taken by its energy, with the angular rocks and restless sea along with the busy industry of the guys enjoying their pastime in the early morning sunshine.
I have quite a number of seaside images from our recent stay in Brittany and was thinking of doing a set of paintings of shoreline scenes. So this is the first one and possibly last – let’s see how the enthusiasm holds up.
This is based around some images in the Gulf of St Malo. I loved the plunging cliffs covered in brush and bracken and broken with deep shadows in the low light and the beaches were pretty good too.
This is another from one of my early morning cycle rides. It is a scene which I have painted in situ before, but to get this angle, with the fence posts, you need to be sat in the road, so a photo was the safer option.
I was attracted to the pattern of light and shadows. It was just a shame there wasn’t a bit of light on the cottages – maybe I should have painted some.
As my with my previous painting, this was painted in three colours, ultra marine blue, cadmium yellow and winsor red.
A view from one of my recent early morning cycling forays, spurred on by the unseasonal good weather. This is the end of the single track lane that crosses the low lying moss from Southport, inland from the sea. You can just see the steeple of Halsall Church behind the tree.
I did this in three colours, ultramarine blue, Winsor red and cadmium yellow, letting the colours mix on the paper before adding more detail.
I often cycle through these woods and the light on a sunny day gives great contrasts. I’ve painted it before but felt the result was a bit stilted. So I was suckered in the other day and decided to have another go.
Still not sure. Perhaps I could get the darks a bit darker. I’ll ponder on it for a few days.
A website which markets health products and uses my images asked for a painting depicting soya, so this is what I’ve been working on. Their brief was pretty specific so I had to hold back from multi-coloured leaves.
So now I’m awaiting their response. In the meantime I can get on to something which doesn’t have so much foliage.
Moving up to the North Brittany coast into the Gulf of St Malo. I did some sketches as we walked along the cliffs. The above is at Val Andre looking south into the afternoon sun.
This again is from the Cliffs at Val Andre. The shoreline is much more rugged here than at Le Cloisic, our last stop. The building is a lookout post for marauding Brits (amongst others) they may be building more as Brexit unfolds.
Another small cove on our walks.
And here, in the low morning light, the cliffs at Pleneuf. In the distance is the start of a sandy beach that went on for a couple of miles, with egrets, terns, cormorants and the odd naturist popping up from behind the rocks.
We moved down to southern Brittany, in France for a few days. Right at the point where the Loire empties out into the sea. Le Cloisic is an old port, once exporting the salt to the rest of Europe. It still retains its old charm and they still pan for salt around here. When the fishing boats land their catch there are queues at the market.
The other evening I went out painting and on my way back, as the sun was setting, I took this shot. The light coming in low, lit up the grasses and vegetation. I’ve tried to paint something like this before, but when you’ve got a nose-diving sun, the only way is a photo.
These little lanes cross the fertile reclaimed marshlands, travelling inland. This one is particularly narrow and lorries have slipped off the verges and rolled into the fields before now – probably in the act of following their sat-navs.
I was looking at a local painter who does seascapes and liked the idea and effectiveness of combining pastel and watercolour for depicting seascapes. He actually uses gouache, which may give a bit more tooth for the pastel, but I’ve just used watercolour. I really need to get some images to work off – this was just from a combination of images I plucked from the web so I’m not sure of hues. But as a quick trial it gives a pleasing result.