This is a view of the River Alt as it drifts through the fields of the Lancashire plain. I love this idyllic view which I see as I cycle across the foot bridge over the river. Though directly behind me is a railway bridge and beyond, a newly constructed housing estate. In front, around the bend, the river enters an army camp where it is used in noisy military exercises. Later, it emerges on the other side of the camp and idly sidles into the mouth of the Mersey as the mighty river breaks into the Irish sea spitting out ferries, liners and cargo ships in front of ranks of wind turbines. Here though, in this spot, you forget your surroundings and there is a calm moment of what if and possibility.
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.
Back to the task of getting some paintings for the exhibition at Little Crosby. The Alt is a small tributary to the Mersey, opening out into its estuary, not far from Little Crosby. A number of boats moor up there. This one was done at sunset and is a subject I have painted before. I love the trail of buoys and markers down the watercourse and the reflections and patterns in the vast expanse of wet sand out to the Mersey and Irish sea. At present you can hear the sounds of migrating Canada geese as they feed way out in the distance on the sands. Looking the other way in the morning you get the view below.
The block of flats on the right is an eyesore and I blended it out in the morning sunlight. The houses dont do much either, so I kept them as simple as possible. Hopefully they will appeal to someone, as this is a well visited spot of wildness in a built up area at the north end of Liverpool.
I was walking down by the Alt Estuary where it empties out into the Mersey Estuary. The vast expanses of sand at low tide with the Wirral in the background and the Welsh hills behind that make a subject, but it is finding an angle. Off to the right of this painting are the tide marooned boats which I have done before. I decided to get low and include the flora – dog roses and dandelions and the like. These plants cover the piles of brick and debris from the war ravaged Liverpool that was dumped around here creating a bit of a coastal defence, though coastal preservation wasn’t top of their priorities at the time.
It may look familiar and indeed it is. I published a version a week or so ago, but wasn’t very happy with it, so I decided to change the format. I am much happier with the outcome, having got rid of a mass of awkward foreground.
I was looking to emphasise and practise foreground texture and had this image from last year of the drainage channels and reclaimed agricultural land that spreads out inland from the sea around here. I liked the contrast between the spikey grasses in the foreground and softer foliage on the right. This place is close to Maghull as you edge into Liverpool from Formby and Southport. It is accessible from a dismantled railway track which runs north south through the moss.
Last September I went out painting on one of the few bright evenings we had in late summer/autumn. I sat myself down near some old farm buildings surrounded by trees and started to draw and then paint. I hadn’t counted on the sun disappearing behind the trees so quickly ( very different to when I was out in June). The interesting assortment of buildings in light and shade quickly merged into a dark mass in deep shadow. So I packed up and, as the sun was still hovering over the horizon, decided to call in to the Mersey estuary where the local river, the Alt, merges into it. There are a many boats moored right along the estuary, all the way out to the Mersey. When I got there the tide was out and the sun cast everything in an orange glow. The river carves its way through the mudflats to the Mersey and the sun created intriguing patterns on the mud, reflecting off the wet mud and being absorbed by the drier areas. The scene was changing too fast to paint so I took a load of photos and painted it later on a half imperial sheet. I wasn’t happy with the result and had another go on a smaller quarter imperial sheet. I am happier with this. There isn’t much to the scene and probably too many darks, but I think I’ve got the feeling of the place as the sun disappears over the Atlantic.
I have tried this view before, but with a third vessel right in the foreground and taking in more of the river and buildings behind. This time I tightened the field of view, selected two vessels and went for an elongated presentation. It certainly feels a better outcome.
Normally I go down to the Alt Estuary, which flows into the Mersey Estuary, in the evening and paint. This time I decided to see the lightening effects in the morning. The bright morning light gave some new options. The way the light is reflected off the wet mud is very powerful.
I have other paintings of this estuary and of the local landscape on my website: <a href=”grahammcquadefineart.com“. Have a look.