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.
I’ve been exploring abstracts derived from the landscape and showed some of these in previous posts. As a first stage in the production of these abstracts, I have been sketching out loose landscapes to see if they might lead me somewhere down this path. Here are a couple I was pleased with. The one above came from a clip I saw on the TV and I did a quick, loose, watercolour sketch from memory. There isnt much to it, but it gave a pleasing result.
The one above is based on the beach at Southport, where I live, and I have used the idea of this in one of the semi abstracts I showed in my last post. Initially, I was actually messing around with a skyscape and added the sand and sea as an afterthought. I like the way the rivulets form on the beach, though it can result on getting your feet wet as you walk along the beach, especially when the tide is coming in.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I was playing around with more abstract pieces on the subject of travel. I was influenced by the confusion and bemusement of newly arriving in strange and exciting places; how everything can be a noisy muddle of shapes and movement. So here are a few paintings of my mind’s wanderings – some more representational than others.
This was influenced by my visit to Marrakesh some years ago.
This is where it starts to get more representational, with an estuarine feel, but it was driven by the way I applied the paint and then removed it with a palette knife. I made a dark mix from a orange red and blue green, but only partially completed the mix before applying the paint onto pre-prepared paper. Once applied I started to remove some of it in a variety of ways.
I finally arrived closer to home with a similar approach to the estuarine one above with an image shaped by the beach at Southport, where I live.
There are other paintings, but I wont bore you further: I’m still searching. Though I may have discovered a few possibilities with the above and my sketchbook has many other snippets.
This was the subject of my second ever post. It is a view of part of our pier at Southport. As the beach faces in a westerly direction you can get some great sunsets like this one.
With our pop up gallery suddenly and unexpectedly being given a months extension and a planned solo show looming at my framers I am in need of more paintings of local interest. This view is an image I have had for a while and I thought that it might make a popular subject. I love mixing the colours on the paper for the reflections and then tempering them with dry-brush darks. The only issue I had were the supports under the pier which always seem to look awkward.
The painting above followed my image, but I wondered whether I could display the painting at both venues and so set about doing a second version.
This time I thought that I would introduce the sun as it dipped towards the horizon and introduced the resulting reflections off the wet sand.
You can but try – they made for some satisfying painting, without too much detail -I’m just hoping that I have enough frames left for both exhibitions.
With the morning light on the dunes the marram grass glows and glistens and cajoled me into working up this view of the beach at Birkdale where I live. I had forgotten I had done a very similar piece before in April and it was only as I was storing this painting that I saw the earlier work. I had forgotten it, probably as I wasnt too taken with the regularly repeating rows of grass I had managed to get on that one. So I got the old painting out again and gave it a dose of reworking and here it is:
On the top painting I blocked in the dark areas with dark acrylic paint before applying the pastels and that saved a lot of time and layers of pastel in achieving the shadows and darker passages, In the lower painting darks were built up with pastel alone.
I think this is the beach at Birkdale, but it could be anywhere north of Liverpool from Crosby to Southport as the morning light catches the marram grasses and the birds glisten out on the sandbanks.
I would like to get down there and get another piece of driftwood to modify my fish mobile, as with time on my hands, I have been looking at the mobile I posted a while ago and decided that an adjustment is required, but with restrictions getting tighter that can wait.
The joke is that the sea goes so far out here, it always seems like low-tide.
I went down to the beach the other fine day to get some driftwood for a mobile I am making, which hopefully I will post shortly. There were some great cloud formations and whilst I was searching for suitable pieces I managed to find time to snap a few photos and later used them to give you a flavour of the beach here at Southport UK.
Rushing around looking at replacement paintings for the exhibition after the sudden sales, I considered a number of local landscapes for display. Some I had affinity for but was reluctant to put on show. So when the dust settled last week I thought that I should see whether I could get them to a stage where I would put them in a frame to exhibit.
This is the first one – the beach at Southport in the evening. The first version was quite large – a half imperial sheet. I realised I could get the essence by compressing it, with the sand, grasses and reflections on the water constained by a narrow format. I also kept a tight reign on the hue, reflecting the beach in the sky.
Well maybe I’m starting to get somewhere on my project of painting local scenes. At last a picture I am happy with. I was aided by some scratching out on this one and I also must admit to using a bit of gouache – but all in the best possible taste.
I did the original version of this on site in May, sitting in the evening sun. It does contain a wide range of colours, but then that is how it is, though on the final version I did some glazing to try and unify it. Looking back I didnt post the original sketch, so here it is.
Below is a snap of the scene, as I sat on top of the dunes.
I have decided to do a set of paintings of the vicinity of where I live for an exhibition at the end of the year and at present I am struggling. I have done two paintings which I am not pleased with and a third got sold – so very little has progressed.
So after a brief pause I have re started and this is the first one of the Shrimpers on Birkdale Beach – I posted a version of this in May. Recently I went back to the place to get more information and have another attempt and here it is. Apart from it being a bit less overworked , I still have reservations, but I have decided to leave this and get on with the job; another painting is on the way. It will arrive on your screens shortly.