I have sold a number of beach scenes at Formby of late, so stocks of this subject were low and I wanted something not too taxing to paint as I worked on a more difficult painting.
It puzzles me why a local beach scene is such a popular subject but I suppose sunny days at the seaside are always uplifting and can hold happy memories – that is, until you have to paint masses of marram grass and footprints in the sand.
With the morning light on the dunes the marram grass glows and glistens and cajoled me into working up this view of the beach at Birkdale where I live. I had forgotten I had done a very similar piece before in April and it was only as I was storing this painting that I saw the earlier work. I had forgotten it, probably as I wasnt too taken with the regularly repeating rows of grass I had managed to get on that one. So I got the old painting out again and gave it a dose of reworking and here it is:
On the top painting I blocked in the dark areas with dark acrylic paint before applying the pastels and that saved a lot of time and layers of pastel in achieving the shadows and darker passages, In the lower painting darks were built up with pastel alone.
Staying with the beach theme started on my last post; another view of the Sefton coast, this time at Formby. I did this in acrylics and I am happier with the depictment of the vegetation compared to what I achieved with the pastels. I am tempted to repeat the previous post of the Alt Estuary in acrylics.
The painting comes from a watercolour sketch I did a few weeks back, one sunny morning when I visited the beach.
In the distance ( through the gap) on the acrylic painting are the impression of some seabirds which I thought I saw as I sat painting. When I blew up the images I saw that it was litter left by the previous day’s tourists – still, the white blobs are birds in my eye.
It’s a while since I last had the pastels out and I wanted to do some paintings of the Sefton Beach, so I thought that they might be just right for the marram grasses.
This is the view where the River Alt empties into the Mersey Estuary and in the distance the Wirral, across the estuary. On a good day you can see the Welsh hills. Just around the near headland is Gormley’s, Another Place, which has the figures looking out into the blue of the distance.
I did a sketch of this in an earlier blog and decided to have a go as a painting. I like the ethereal feeling the light gives and I managed to get the shimmer on the foreground marram grasses by scratching out rather than using masking fluid as I did in the sketch. For me, this approach yields a more dynamic and varied result.
I also tried to enhance the diagonal sweep of the dune forms to try and inject some dynamism to an otherwise staid subject.
I think this is the beach at Birkdale, but it could be anywhere north of Liverpool from Crosby to Southport as the morning light catches the marram grasses and the birds glisten out on the sandbanks.
I would like to get down there and get another piece of driftwood to modify my fish mobile, as with time on my hands, I have been looking at the mobile I posted a while ago and decided that an adjustment is required, but with restrictions getting tighter that can wait.
Maybe a sense of deja vu here, but this is a new painting. I did show an earlier version of this on a recent post but I decided to rework it on a long format sheet rather than force the bigger painting into a long format mount and lose people’s legs and dogs.
I thought that it was worth redoing as it is a popular location, with the start of Anthony Gormley’s Another Place on the beach on the right – I did include a couple of statues if you look hard enough. Anyway, it is popular enough for them to install parking payment machines in the car park you can see in the background.
Last Sunday was a fine day and we walked along the beach towards Crosby – the north end of Liverpool, where Gormley`s Another Place is sited. Coming up to the old Coast Guard Station you could see past Gormley’s statues on the beach and, over, across the Mersey, just spot the mist shrouded forms of Birkenhead. I took a few photos of the activity on the coastal path and decided to paint people enjoying a sunny January day.
I did a sketch and decided on a normal landscape format and started the painting on a half imperial sheet, which is my big size for watercolour. When I completed it I put a mat around it to see what it looked like framed. Then, on impulse, I tried a quarter imperial, long mount.
I realised my mistake. I should have done it as a long format painting.
The original is shown below.
What I have shown at the top is the truncated form of this lower painting. I have lost the dog and the front couple`s feet but also a lot of superfluous grass and sky.
I could do the long version again and push the people and dogs back, but at the moment I am deciding whether this is necessary.
With a house filled with guests, I havent done any painting over the past few days.When I was clearing space in my studio, I picked up a sketch book and spotted something I had done whilst on the beach in August – and here it is – squabbling gulls on the waterline: perhaps apposite in the circumstances.