AFTERNOON AT FORMBY POINT – PASTEL PAINTING

This was the last of a series I recently painted of our local coastline. They have familiar themes to others I have painted. In this one I liked the shadows cast by the nearest clump of marram grass and the distant beach as it drifts away into infinity. It is an expansive area of sand where, in some areas, you barely see a soul as you walk beneath the towering dunes.

This set of paintings gives me some choice when I come to select paintings for the exhibitions which are fast approaching.

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

INCOMING TIDE – MIXED MEDIA

Last month I published a set of sketches for a watercolour and pastel beach scene. I combined aspects of two of them to produce this on a half imperial sheet – 35x52cm. I will display it in a group exhibition we are staging in the Southport Wayfarers Arcade from the end of November until Christmas. So book yourself a flight to bag a bargain at our pop-up exhibition before someone else grabs them. Alternatively I can post it to you.

Other seaside and beach scenes can be purchased on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

BACK TO THE BEACH – PASTEL PAINTING

With this painting I’m staying with the pastels and riffing on a familiar theme in preparation for upcoming exhibitions. I was pleased with the colours I got into this familiar view of the beach at Formby – simple pleasures, but I’m a simple man. I had to include some old fencing as I was demonstrating a similar painting at a club in Blackpool on Thursday, so the practice helped. Tomorrow I will be running a pastel workshop. Hopefully, after that, things will quieten down and I’ll try to explore some other themes and media, though I do want to do a larger version of the mixed media offering of breaking waves I posted a week or so ago.

Today I am off to a life session run by an old mate of mine. He told me that he has got a great model, someone I havent seen since before covid. I just hope we can get some good lighting as well.

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

AUTUMN ON THE ALT ESTUARY – PASTEL PAINTING

I’ve painted this view before but had forgotten about it until I was preparing this blog.

With the sale of a coastal painting this week as well as preparing for a couple of exhibitions and doing a lot of pastel work, especially for the demos and workshops I’m running this month and next, I was looking around for likely subjects.

So I had a go at this, which is the estuary of a small river, the Alt, as it empties out into the bigger Mersey Estuary at the north end of Liverpool. In the summer, the channel, close to the dunes, is lined with moored yachts, but as the year dwindles towards its end they are brought ashore and placed in a compound.

This view is from the dunes looking over the Mersey towards the Wirral peninsular that can be just picked out in the haze. If you look hard there is a tanker making a break for the Irish sea.

The dark headland behind the marram grasses is made up of building rubble from the bombed out Liverpool, which was dumped there after the second world war. As you walk along the beach you can find carved fascias to old buildings amongst the sea smoothed bricks and concrete. Someone once told me that they found half of a tombstone there.

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

WAVEFORMS – MIXED MEDIA SKETCHES

With my daughter visiting last weekend we took some time out for a walk. It was centered on the village of Parbold in Lancashire, which has a great art gallery housed in a disused windmill alongside the canal. The gallery is run by James Bartholomew who does a lot of work in pastel over gouache. Well, he certainly did when he came to do some demonstrations for the club I once ran. I dont think he does them anymore as the last time I tried to book him he said it wasnt worth his time.

His prices bear this out and are well deserved. Some time later,I was looking at entering a painting into the open exhibition of the Royal Society for Marine Artists in London. I looked them up to see what was doing well and discovered that he had won the main prize the previous year.

He does a mixture of subjects, but his seascapes always catch my eye. I have done similar work in watercolour, but seeing his work I thought I’d give the mixed media approach a go. So here are three sketches I did this week.

My base media was transparent watercolour, not gouache. The addition of pastel over the watercolour base allows for some vigorous markmaking in keeping with breaking waves and swirling wash on the beach.

I just wanted to give it a go and see what came out. I may try a bigger one for an upcoming exhibition.

We didnt buy a painting, but one of the reasons for the visit ( apart from climbing the steep hill behind the village) was to purchase some of the big mugs he stocks which have images of his work on the outside. They are good, bucket sized mugs. I had bought a few before, but the penultimate one cracked, spilling coffee over the table recently.

Anyway, now, we are fully stocked with big mugs again and the visit has inspired me to try out a new technique. Let’s drink to that.

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

AFTER THE STORM – WATERCOLOUR PAINTING

Today I am doing the first of a run of workshops and demonstrations, that continue over the next month or so and consequently time is at a premium. So here is an old watercolour painting done in 2012 and sold soon after. It was based on a view I saw whilst on holiday in Cornwall. I was pleased with the way the cliffs and water worked, along with a sense of melancholy which adds to the painting.

Hopefully there wont be too much melancholia this afternoon.

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

EARLY START – WATERCOLOUR PAINTING

I’m busy preparing workshops and planning demos as well as reworking a couple of acrylics so here is another blast from the past, circa 2010. I never sold this and dont know where it is now, though I was pleased with it at the time.

It is a view of a small natural harbour at Rotheneuf, just north of St Malo in Brittany, France. I used to go down there and do some painting in the morning, whilst on holiday. It was a glorious little place. After my painting session I would go to the boulangerie, get a couple of bagettes and return for breakfast – yep, life in the fast lane.

The sailors used to come down to the harbour and prepare their boats in readiness for the incoming tide and when their boat was afloat off they went. I did sell one painting of the harbour where the yachts were bobbing on a fuller tide, but there is a pathos to this one, augmented by the muted colours. I recall it being one of my large watercolours. It might be worth redoing as a smaller, quarter imperial version.

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

AT FORMBY POINT – PASTEL PAINTINGS

Another reworked image, this time of the beach at Formby, and the reason for this is that I am also preparing for a pastel workshop, along with some demos.

A lady, from a local art club had seen a beach pastel on my website and asked whether I could do that as a demo. Despite never having demonstrated pastel before, I accepted the booking. I wouldnt even call myself a pastelist. I just started using them in life sessions. I found you get form and colour down very quickly with pastels. From there I used them in my landscapes.

However, I use a different style with life work than with landscapes and seascapes. With the latter I blend a lot, probably because I am working flatter, rather than on an easel in a life session.

After that surprise booking, I received two more requests for pastel demos and one for a pastel workshop. I dont know if there has been some culling of the pastel fraternity around here, leading to a lack of choice and then on to me, or maybe people just talk amongst themselves.

So I have been investigating possible subjects. I have settled for the one above. I did try a couple of others, one of them is below:

This is another old subject, done before in watercolours. I feel, though, that with watercolours, I got a much subtler finish and this was a reason why I am selecting the first one for the demos and workshop. The first demo is in October.

Also, by doing these trial pieces, I get a painting that I can put in to one of my upcoming exhibitions. A little icing on the cake.

Other beach scenes and seascapes are avilable for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

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