I paint. I surf

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Here’s my first blog on the new web-site. These extraordinary times have given me the opportunity to get back into the studio after a long absence. Lots of paintings which have been half-planned or just in my head are starting to take shape. The ‘View From Salthouse Cliffs’ was completed recently and I suspect will be painted many many times in one form or another because the light there is never the same from one day or one hour to another. Next up will be another watercolour on canvas so I can make use of the wide format and easy-lifting characteristics. I want to explore a late evening view of the surfers and the weird rock formations at the north end of Salthouse beach. I love to surf, but those guys have nerves of steel….I know what the rocks are like just underneath them!!

Ok I’ve started on it. undefinedundefined

Mid stage, all the basics have been laid down, the washes, over-washes flicked texture and enough detail to make it recognisable
The sky and clouds have been poured, the rocks are adding some focus and the surfers have appeared! Some fine tuning needed but this is nearly finished

I always tell my students at workshops, to prepare a sketch before painting and this illustrates the reasons why. First it points at the tones, what values to use and where so that you can focus attention on exactly where you want it. Secondly it asks where you want the detail and where not. I have a conflict here in that I really want to explore the weird texture in the big rock on the right, but clearly I need to focus on the surfer in the sunset so I have a problem to resolve there which will inform how I paint it. Thirdly it flags up the fine tuning needed to resolve the composition such where to put the surfer in the foreground, how to adjust the rocks to best effect, how to tweak the drama in the sky to create the theatre, etc etc. Lots to sort out before picking up the paint-brush! This is where the sketch is crucial in watercolour because you want to hit the canvas or paper with a clear plan so that you minimise the fiddling and alteration afterwards. Watercolour can be tetchy and performs best if you give it free reign and get what you want on the first pass.

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