CLIMBING TO THE TOP OF THE DUNE – PASTEL PAINTING

Undeterred by the sand flowing away from under your feet, you struggle on, brushing past the coarse marram grass and then glimpse sight of the sea. Now, you realise you’ve reached your objective.

This is the last of the short series of beach pastels I have been doing of late. All used the technique of underpainting with gouache and then overworking with pastel. I was trying to get a feeling of intimacy with this one, compared to the others which had a more panoramic detachment.

Other beach paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

EVENING ON BIRKDALE DUNES – PASTEL PAINTING

You may recall in the post before last the gloomy vista of rain clouds about to come over Birkdale beach – and I said it was part of a series, so here is the next one, a contrasting evening on the beach, with the sun hanging low and the light shimmering off the wet sands in the distance. I did this type of evening view in watercolour and it sold a year or two back, so I thought that I would try a version in pastels, placing tonal washes down in gouache first and then working over them in pastel as I had in my earlier pastel.

Mystery encroaches at this hour. The low light casts shadows and darkens ravines between marram covered dunes. Tracks of past beachgoers get highlighted by a glow on the raised edges that is then underscored by the shadow of the depression. Wisps of grass, catch the low sun and seem to glow against shadowed inclines. Soon the mystery will be complete.

Other beach scenes are available on my website for sale: grahammcquadefineart.com

A STORM BREAKS OVER BIRKDALE BEACH – PASTEL PAINTING

I am working on a small series of local beach scenes in pastel. It gives me an opportunity to try out the use of gouache to quickly block in masses of light and shade. Darker passages can take a lot of pastel to build up and painting in a mixture of colours that can be added to with pastel seems to give a fresher result. I have done it with acrylic before, but I felt gouache will retain a better tooth to the paper.

On the beach, the marram grass covered dunes give way to lonely wet sands stretching way out to the breaking waves, almost imperceptible, in the distance. Above, dark clouds gather across the Irish sea in readiness to sweep in eastwards, lashing the country with the moisture picked up when crossing the Atlantic.

It is a good place to walk, in waterproof boots, on a windswept days past wading birds, to view what flotsam the preceding tide has deposited on the wet sand. Broken branches, like reaching limbs, festooned with flags of algae and black jewels of coal scoured from the Welsh coast dot the sand like pebbles.

Other seascapes and beach scenes are available on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

FORMBY POINT – PASTEL PAINTING

Another view of the local beach at Formby, quickly done, with it’s wide expanses of sand and retreating sand dunes. It recalls summer days by the seaside and time squandered in the warm sunshine.

Summer’s on its way, though we may have to wait a while longer.

Other seaside and beach paintings are available on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

THE VIEW FROM THE FORMBY DUNES – ACRYLIC PAINTING

I managed to sell a few paintings at an exhibition I held at my framers after Christmas. All of them were beach scenes. So, I just completed another view of the Formby beach from my visit last summer.

I like the remnants of the fences that stand forlornly in the shifting sands. I often wonder what purpose they served as they pop up in all sorts of strange places.

Other beach scenes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

DAY’S END AT THE END OF THE PIER – WATERCOLOUR PAINTING

This was the subject of my second ever post. It is a view of part of our pier at Southport. As the beach faces in a westerly direction you can get some great sunsets like this one.

With our pop up gallery suddenly and unexpectedly being given a months extension and a planned solo show looming at my framers I am in need of more paintings of local interest. This view is an image I have had for a while and I thought that it might make a popular subject. I love mixing the colours on the paper for the reflections and then tempering them with dry-brush darks. The only issue I had were the supports under the pier which always seem to look awkward.

The painting above followed my image, but I wondered whether I could display the painting at both venues and so set about doing a second version.

This time I thought that I would introduce the sun as it dipped towards the horizon and introduced the resulting reflections off the wet sand.

You can but try – they made for some satisfying painting, without too much detail -I’m just hoping that I have enough frames left for both exhibitions.

Other seaside paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

BACK TO THE BEACH – PASTEL PAINTING

This morning I am taking some paintings into the pop-up gallery for my first collaborative exhibition in the run up to Christmas. This one will run for a month and I will have to do one day a week manning the shop and hoping for some healthy sales.

So now on to the second exhibition, in November. I have already sent in my list for the catalogue, but not all the paintings had been completed. This one above is the last of the eight I will be submitting. I felt I needed a local beach scene: similar to the one I am putting in today. I must admit I prefer that one, but what one person likes, another doesnt. Again it is of Formby beach, a popular destination in this area.

Other beach scenes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

LAST MEN STANDING – ACRYLIC PAINTING

I did this painting just before I departed for Portugal at the end of September. It came from my visit to Formby Beach when I was collecting material for a commission and seeing what else was about.

I loved the wind-sculpted shapes of the trees, though they are in peril. The sea is encroaching and pushing the coast back and this small cluster of trees will soon be no longer. You can see the next line of the pine forest in the background.

I think there is mileage in making the trees starker and I was going to introduce some reds and other colours into the trunks and foliage, but for now exploring the shapes of the trees and their relationship to the landscape is enough.

Other landscapes and seascapes are available on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

SKETCHES FROM PORTUGAL – WATERCOLOURS

We have decamped to Portugal for a few days of walking down the coast of Alentejo and the Algarve coastlines in the south of the country. So, in hindsight, it was bad planning of me to follow up some local beach scenes with more from Portugal – maybe I was getting excited about having a holiday at last.

We started at Vila Nova de Milfontes on the mouth of the river Miro. A really lovely old, small town. The above sketch is of the beach and cliffs on the way from Milfontes, south to Almograve as we walked along the fisherman’s path on the top of the cliffs. We sat on the beach to eat lunch and I did this sketch in between bites of my sandwich.

This is the pontoon at the foot of our hotel at Milfontes. The sea is in the background with the pontoon on the river. Shoals of mullet were frothing the water and in the distance is a small headland at the river’s mouth. The river water is calm in comparison to the Atlantic breakers at the head of the river.

I did this quick sketch of Cabo Sardao Lighthouse sat in the dugout on the football pitch which was adjacent to the lighthouse. I had about 30 minutes to do it as our tour guides organised the transport to get us back from the day’s walk.

The lighthouse is famously built backwards with the living quarters opening out into the prevailing winds and the light at the back

As we headed south the cliffs got higher and were made of Schist which had broken up in planes to give great light and shadow areas. This was a painting I started on a lunch break which for no apparent reason got curtailed. Hence a lack of much detail. Though it was a good practice piece to explore the rock textures.

So I am about to go out again for a walk on my own, so there may be some more sketches – you lucky people,

Other seascapes and beach scenes are available on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

A GLIMPSE OF THE SEA – PASTEL PAINTING

Well, I did warn you that I had gathered a lot of information on my last trip to Formby Beach. So here is another painting inspired by that visit. This one is fully illuminated by the sun, instead of looking into the light. Again, a glimpse of the sea breaking on the mud and sand in the distance and the sad remains of the old fence being devoured by the receding dunes. The sea is gobbling up the land here and I suppose it will get worse as sea levels rise. At the same time the sand gets pushed further inland.

Other seaside and beach paintings are available on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com