Undeterred by the sand flowing away from under your feet, you struggle on, brushing past the coarse marram grass and then glimpse sight of the sea. Now, you realise you’ve reached your objective.
This is the last of the short series of beach pastels I have been doing of late. All used the technique of underpainting with gouache and then overworking with pastel. I was trying to get a feeling of intimacy with this one, compared to the others which had a more panoramic detachment.
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.
This morning I am taking some paintings into the pop-up gallery for my first collaborative exhibition in the run up to Christmas. This one will run for a month and I will have to do one day a week manning the shop and hoping for some healthy sales.
So now on to the second exhibition, in November. I have already sent in my list for the catalogue, but not all the paintings had been completed. This one above is the last of the eight I will be submitting. I felt I needed a local beach scene: similar to the one I am putting in today. I must admit I prefer that one, but what one person likes, another doesnt. Again it is of Formby beach, a popular destination in this area.
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.
I went down to Formby beach to get some visual information to enable me to complete a painting which I posted a week ago. I also gathered some more possible material for other paintings. The afternoon was well advanced and the low sun put the seed heads of the marram grass into silhouette. On this painting I was conscious of too many dark areas, because the bright light put a lot of the ravine into shade. Certainly, some shade was useful to counter change with the seed heads, but too much could make the whole thing very moody. So, to reduce this shade, I exaggerated the light filtering through the grasses.
I think the simple painting captures the feeling of place and time well.
A friend was trying to contact me and went to my website to get my phone number and saw an image of the beach where she walks regularly. I had sold the one she spotted and she asked me to do another for her and this is the version I painted. Perhaps long time viewers recognise the view as I posted the first one a while ago.
I went down to the beach last week to see what the scene looks like now, but they have put a bigger fence on the left, so with her agreement I left it out. I like the spikey, old broken-down fence, particularly where it stands out against the sand below.
Anyway, whilst I was on the beach I took a few photos, so brace yourself for a set of beach scenes. I need some views for upcoming exhibitions that start to blossom prior Christmas and the beach at Formby is always popular.
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.
Maybe the season of repeats. Here is another version of a painting I posted a few weeks ago. I decided the cliffs of sand dunes needed simplifying and enlarging and I removed clutter from the foreground. I also simplified the cloud formation and made them compliment the dunes better. Its a simple scene, but its about the openness of the beach which seems to roll on forever.
Merry Christmas – as its a nice day we are heading off for a walk along the beach on the Wirral. Hopefully there will be a few potential paintings waiting for me there.