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.
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.
Well for us in northern climes the corner has been turned and summer is on its way, though, no doubt, a rocky (and icy) road lies ahead. So here is a painting of what we’re aiming for. I did this as a pastel a long while ago and wondered whether it would make a watercolour. I love the shadows of the marram grass, the distressed fence, and the way the beach disappears into a hazy blueness. It makes a hopeful change from my recent winter beach scenes.
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.
I have sold a number of beach scenes at Formby of late, so stocks of this subject were low and I wanted something not too taxing to paint as I worked on a more difficult painting.
It puzzles me why a local beach scene is such a popular subject but I suppose sunny days at the seaside are always uplifting and can hold happy memories – that is, until you have to paint masses of marram grass and footprints in the sand.
I have been struck a number of times by the patient nature of horses – though it doesnt include the ones running in the 2-30 at Kempton, obviously. The way they stand or methodically graze unhurriedly in the paddock or dissuade irritating flies with the twitch of a muscle. I saw these ones, painted above, on a recent morning cycle – probably waiting for breakfast to be delivered. Hopefully Godot wasn’t bringing it, as in that case, even their patience might be tested.
Staying with the beach theme started on my last post; another view of the Sefton coast, this time at Formby. I did this in acrylics and I am happier with the depictment of the vegetation compared to what I achieved with the pastels. I am tempted to repeat the previous post of the Alt Estuary in acrylics.
The painting comes from a watercolour sketch I did a few weeks back, one sunny morning when I visited the beach.
In the distance ( through the gap) on the acrylic painting are the impression of some seabirds which I thought I saw as I sat painting. When I blew up the images I saw that it was litter left by the previous day’s tourists – still, the white blobs are birds in my eye.
Maybe I’m undergoing some sort of epiphany or, then again, perhaps not, but I am painting a number of churches of late. I have a couple more in the pipeline, but this is a completed one.
I had been over to the sand dunes at Formby to do some early morning painting and was making my way back to the road when I glimpsed the church through the chestnut and sycamore trees. I squeezed in under a dilapidated fence and sat and painted the back of the church, though it was the light coming in through the leaves of the trees that adds the punch to this painting and I didn’t do that justice in my sketch. So here is my second go at home, sat in comfort, listening to a spot of Mozart – you can almost feel the sunshine.
My daughter and her boyfriend came up the other day and we went for a walk along the coastal path north of Liverpool. This is another place where the path brushes the beach – at the end of Lifeboat Road in Formby. What little remains of the lifeboat station are some well washed bricks down there on the beach.
I am a sucker for the broken fences and the shadows that they cast – perhaps I could make a bit more of them here. And with the windy day came the churning waves eating away more of the sandy beach.