I was thinking about entering the marine artists exhibition in London. I had a couple of suitable paintings but wanted something a little different so that I could judge what it is that they are looking for a bit better and worked up this idea. Now that it’s complete I’m a little underwhelmed by it. I have got tighter than I would have liked. I’ll prop it against the wall and have a look at it over the next week or so and make my mind up. I have used motifs that I have used as subjects before, in case you are wondering whether you’ve already seen it.
I had a number of photos of boats in the small harbour at La Val Andre in Brittany and wondered how they would look in an elongated format. I was taken by the two red boats (off different photos) against the grey green of the water.
I was caught by the orange hull against the blue of the water. I thought by bluing out the background it might further highten the effect of the light on the central boat. The painting is actually bluer than this image suggests. I also like the shot of red on the adjacent boat which brings in some dissonance to the basic complementary pairing and as such I haven’t echoed it anywhere else.
The area here, to the north of Southport, is very flat and subjects can be hard to come by. Even so I went out on my bike one morning and did some on site painting and took a number of photos. This painting was from one of the photos. I need to get a collection of local paintings together for a couple of up-coming exhibitions, so all other projects have been put on hold.
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.
As I’ve said before I love painting contra-jour – just four colours used on this one which bestows cohesion and prevents me struggling around with detail that inevitably kills the image. And with it a whiff of summer on this cold, windswept January day – well, that makes me feel just a bit better.
We Walked along the Bexhill Beach in Sussex after an Autumn storm and had lunch at a bar in Cooden. On returning the waves still pounded the shoreline, scouring the shingle as they returned to the sea and the bright sunshine illuminated the scene. A little way further along some kite skiers made use of the stiff wind, racing over the swelling waves as if they were just flat ice.
A friend of mine, a very good watercolourist, gave me a couple of sheets of watercolour paper he uses. It is quite rough, but also the texture of the paper is quite flaky and loose, you can see discrete particles which make up the paper. I’ve had it for a while and thought that I would give it a go with this sketch.
The painting is of the Corsican coast. I only used two colours: Windsor blue and cadmium red. The surface of the paper isn’t as tough as my usual Arch paper, so when I started to scratch back to regain some white, the paper seemed to ball and I had to carefully remove the balled fibres with the tip of my scalpel.
Also marks appeared. You can see a dark blob to the left of the sailing boat. Also there are lines in the far hillside on the left and they also appear on the right.
I cant understand anyone using this kind of paper. If you put a lot of effort into a work – which I didn’t here – you don’t want imperfections showing up. It would be embarrassing to sell this work particularly if dark stains start appearing.
The only thing I was impressed with was the lack of cockling when I applied my initial washes. Normally I stretch my paper, but this time I just laid it on the board and sloshed on the water. It stayed flat.
I have done a similar painting in the past of the boats gathered at the north end of Windermere in the English Lake District. The morning sun catches the surfaces of the boats. By darkening the water, highlights on the vessels are possible. I hadn’t tried this before. All the water surface has been darkened, though it doesn’t look like it. I reserved the lights for some of the vessels and the edge of the swan.
I once painted this scene on a winter’s morning, but gave up when the water on my palette froze. I should have tried the old trick of using alcohol, but decided for a photo instead and went inside for breakfast.
Other Lake District paintings are on my website grahammcquade.com . The other painting can be seen in the Sold section.
Still working on my large liquid acrylic paintings. I’ve got two to a stage I’m satisfied with but the final one remains elusive, so I thought a change of pace whilst I think about my next move might be beneficial. In the Lake District on a warm spring late afternoon and the blueness of the mountain backdrop with the light peeping over the hills makes Derwent water a great place to be. I thought I would work a bit larger than my normal pastel landscapes, this is 56×36 cm which is slightly smaller than my figurative work, but big for my landscapes. I think working bigger in pastels does afford more options when mark making.