I was watching some TV about seabird colonies in Scotland and the scenes of the wild sea made me want to try some techniques I saw in a book by Nita Engle. There is no brushwork in this painting except to use them to flick paint onto the paper and a little bit to finally render the seabirds. She actually uses an applicator to squirt the paint onto the paper so that you can get regression with the waves – a degree of control that you cant achieve by flicking.
I did a second painting – Headland – which more reflected the programme, although the headland just appeared out of the marks so I did use a bit of brushwork to bring it to prominence .
I might use some pipettes I have to mimics the spray application and gain a bit of control with the waves. However I do love the wildness that this approach brings. So I might bore you with another one soon.
This is the beach at Fraserburgh which is east of Inverness in Scotland. Never been there myself. The nearest I’ve got was Cawdor Castle, the reputed site of the Macbeth saga. I was asked to paint this after my recent exhibition at the Martin Mere bird sanctuary. It was the first time I’ve submitted a body of work on one subject ( Landscapes from the Mersey to the Ribble). Having just had a few unsuccessful shows I was pretty negative about it, except that I thought that it would be a good exercise to muster around 35 paintings and put it on. With the commission they were taking along with the VAT they took off I had to put prices up so that added to my despondency. In the end I sold a couple and got this commission, so all is not bad with the world.
Below are a few shots of the exhibition. Regulars might even recognise some of the paintings I’ve posted.
Some time ago I posted a version of this painting: see below. It has stood in my studio ever since and I have viewed it on a daily basis. The other day I felt that it lacked structure and tonal contrast, so I took a photo of it, printed a few copies, got the pastels out and played around. I am a lot more excited by the second version. Also with the weight of tone at one end I also decided to turn it the other way up.
I was going to do this as a mixed media piece with pastels, similar to an earlier one of waves I did, but as I started painting I wondered whether it could be all done in watercolour, so this is the result. Using pastels allows a more gestural approach with the mark making which I suppose is more reflective of the restlessness of the sea, so I am wondering if this is a little static. I’ll ponder a little further.
I mentioned in my post of Birkdale beach how, if the marram grass doesn’t establish you get sand that extends into the sky. This is another painting for my upcoming exhibition on local landscapes. I originally did it half imperial, 52×36 cm, but wasn’t happy with it so I cropped it to 25x36cm. I think it says the same thing only more eloquently.
I am getting together for another exhibition of local landscapes which feature the land between the Mersey and Ribble Estuaries. Here is one I’ve just done of the local beach, where to many of the locals’ dismay, the marram grass is taking over. As it grows it traps windblown sand creating little islands amid the residual tidal water. It is rather ironic that where they let the cars on the beach, much to the irritation of others, the plant cant get a foothold and the flat sands stretch out seemingly forever. I must say I like this variation of the beach.
There was almost as much paint removal as actual painting in this one as I tried to get the dark textures in the foreground. I added some figures at the end which do draw the eye through. I loved the dark shade leading out into the bright light.