Monday 22 October 2012

Inspired by North Berwick

Yesterday was so gorgeous - a most beautiful autumn day - had a lovely walk at North Berwick.  By pure coincidence, I had started a picture in the studio based on a sketch done in an autumn/winter day last year, but I wasn't happy with it.  When I went into the studio today, my head was full of the seaside colours.

I had been doing a picture of the Bass Rock and related islands.  It had started off almost water-colour-like, looking like this....

 I was trying to hold on to that delicacy of colour - the mistyness around the islands.  I was also worrying about the sea colour.  So working carefully the next stage was this.....

 I had then taken it a little further - adding more acrylic colours, working from my colour sketches.  However, I was greeted by this today - wasn't happy!

This just looked so lumpy and dead.  So I realised that I must not be so precious about the delicacy of colour nor so literal - no need to slavishly copy what was in my sketch book.  I did a wee sketch suggesting a different foreground - using sketches I did yesterday on the beach at North Berwick - and then I went in with two tones of white acrylic followed by more graphite to get this.

I felt this was going in the right direction.  I remembered the pale barnacle-covered rocks and thought I would put them in the foreground.  And also tried to re-capture some colour in the islands - my original sketches had included ultramarine, crimson and green.  And I tried to loosen up on the treatment of the sea.  So finally it ended like this.
Misty view from North Berwick beach.
I was quite pleased with this at the time, but later on I wasn't sure.  After I'd finished, I also realised that there has maybe been a subconscious Peploe influence - looking at his beautiful paintings on Saturday at the Scottish Gallery.  Perhaps that has stayed in my head too.

Monday 15 October 2012

Slumbay Dreams.....

Have been in the studio a bit, working but not being hugely productive, I feel.  I thought I'd go back to doing black and white pictures and embarked on a picture of Slumbay - approximating to the view looking west from the front at Lochcarron.  I have so many sketches of this, it seemed like an obvious picture to try.

As usual, I started in charcoal and then rubbed out a bit.  So it was looking like this initially.

Slumbay with Boats - a start
Then I went over this with ink (mostly black but also some blue) and some oil crayon, oilbar, then some white acrylic.  So it looked a bit more dramatic.

Slumbay with Boats - emerging
But I wasn't sure about the composition, so I decided to crop the picture a little, and carry on with a bit more ink.  I was reasonably pleased with the result....
Slumbay with Boats
However, I had also started another version.  This was on sligtly more robust paper, and I kept the composition cropped - a square version, and this time I started in graphite rather than charcoal, and then added ink etc.  It seems to have a dreamier feel to it which, on reflection, I prefer.
Slumbay with Boats 2 - emerging

To be honest, I wasn't sure whether to finish this or not, having 'finished' the first one, but I carried on anyway.  It needed more work on the foreground and a bt of tidying up.  So I carried on with ink, graphite and conte, and a little acrylic.  It ended up pretty much like this.
Slumbay with Boats 2
It's probably a case of spot the difference.  Which is the better one?  Probably the second one, which goes to show that it's always worth working away at a theme or a motif. 

I may even do it again!  But I suppose there's no guarantee another version would please me any better.

Monday 1 October 2012

Every Picture Tells a Story

In the studio today - had missed a few days.  Last Friday I tried to go out sketching - faint hope! Beaten back by some ferocious rain showers.  So it was back in the studio today, working on the thumbnails again.  I decided to focus on a picture of a tree, a boat and the shore.

Now the last time I was in, I had worked up a picture mostly in black and white.  I started with this.
 I realise now looking at the photos again that when I started out on this theme I had given quite a bit of thought to composition, and abstract values.  I forgot about this when I was in the studio - I can see it now!

Anyway, after making that start, I progressed through these steps.

So this is how it looked this morning.  What I thought I'd do was to start a coloured version and do a dark sky and sea.  So I pulled out a piece of paper which already had some colour on it, and I made a fresh start, forgetting all about my abstract values (of course).
I paused after this start cos' I found the sketchyness with the bold colours really interesting.  Maybe I shouldn't do exactly what I had planned.  So I tried carefully adding some blue (mixture of ultramarine and quindacrone blue.  I was thinking about layering up carefully.
This is still pretty sketchy and I did like that quality about it, but on I wanted to continue with darkening the sky and the sea.
Finally I added some green and sorted the sky out.

Now, as usual, there are some things I like about this, and some things that could be better.  I like the little cloud, and I like the colour of the far away hill.  Does the green island/promontory work?  I'm not sure - maybe it's confusing.  I like to boat colour and the shadow, but I wonder if the boat is too big in relation to the tree.  And above all, what has happened to my abstract values?  Doh!

But I'm going to be positive.  I think this is a good start to some 'picture-making', which I've decided is to be my theme for the autumn.  I want to get away from just re-painting sketches.  I want to make pictures, and pictures have to tell a bit of a story.  I think there IS a little story in this picture, so that's why I think I'm going along the right lines......just not there yet.....