I was going to regale you with some life paintings, but yesterday the sun shone and warm winds came from the south, so I was tempted outside to sketch. I was pushed a bit by the fact that I hadnt done as much outdoor painting last year as I had wanted – mainly because of poor weather. This thought drove me to gather my gear and get out in the late afternoon.
I didnt venture too far. This is the beach at Birkdale, near to where I live. I just wanted something simple and the tonal contrasts, with the sun lighting up the sea and the marram clad dunes in the shade, really caught my attention. A few feet behind me was a tee for one of the holes on the Royal Birkdale Golf Club and I got some snaps of the golfers which may get converted into a painting later.
So it was a good one to break the ice with – hopefully there will be many more this year.
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.
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.
A few repeats here. Versions of these saplings in a sunny clearing in Ainsdale woods have been presented before. In this latest version I feel I have got the lightness of the birch leaves in the sun. I think the photograph flatters the painting, though it might look better in a mount.
This is of the grassy sand dunes close to the beach in the evening. This was a sketch, done on the back of a one of my many rejects. The glow works well, despite the yellow, and I used masking fluid to get the glistening tips of the foreground grass. I needn’t have bothered as I got far better results by scraping the damp paint with my scalpel. I’m not sure introducing the green in the foreground helps with the overall harmony. You may be seeing this one again.
And saving the worst to the last. I’ve presented this entrance to Ainsdale woods before . I thought that by introducing leafy branches across the path it might help to lift the image but these puny leaves look like an afterthought and trying to hint at forms in the dark areas remains elusive – oh well.