Thursday 2 July 2015

A Cliffhanger?

Continuing momentum here, I thought I might have a go at an image of crofting rigs heading down to the sea, something I saw (but wasn't able to sketch) up near Durness.  However, when I started to make a drawing it came out a bit differently. Cliffs emerged!  I think I've seen so many cliffs over the last week that this image is lodged in my brain.
As a composition I thought this might work. In particular, I thought there was a motif here - a repeating A-shape - which I wanted to explore. So I drew it out on a larger piece of paper.

So far so good.  What about palette?  I thought green should predominate, so selected an olive green acrylic to start with. Also using diluted black ink.
 Then I added some crimson allizarin to the mix, but I was a bit tentative. I was being particularly restrained about the sea and the sky. And I was troubled about the position of the abandoned cottage on the middle left.
I worked away in pencil and paint, adding ultramarine and yellow ochre to the mix. But then I thought it wasn't working so I worked it all over in white gesso to knock it back a bit.
It was still looking a bit crude, I thought, and I continued to work on it.  I clearly got more absorbed by the picture as I forgot to take another photo until I got to this much more advanced stage.

And at this point I stopped!  Kind of interesting. Another one for review next week.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Developing the Harbour Theme

Today I kept the momentum going, building on my sketches of another Caithness harbour - Keiss Harbour. When we had arrived at Keiss last week it was a bit stinky - there was a seaweed problem - seaweed had been swept into the harbour with one of the recent big storms and was then trapped. The stink was from the decomposing seaweed. Another side effect of this was that the water was a sort of milky turquoise colour.

Well I did as much sketching as I could tolerate at the time and spoke to a couple of lovely fishermen (who were also struggling with the smell).

It all came back to me today when I looked at the sketches.
The other stunning thing about Keiss is the colour of the harbour walls - there's a lot of yellow in the walls (I assume it's a kind of lichen).  Because of these two colour references, I was straight into a different palette - turquoise and yellow - not a colour combo I have used much before. I started with a few lines in ink and some bright colours.
Then I added more detail about the stonework. The harbour was originally engineered by John Bremner and the stonework is both beautiful and robust and I did want to try and capture the essence of this.
But I thought this was still a bit too bright, so I then knocked the colours back a bit.
I tried another view too, trying to depict the inner and outer harbours together. Same colours.  I thought I had worked out quite a good composition (not entirely true to life).  Here was my start.
I'd included a couple of boats in this as well as the main building in profile. I was told that this building had been almost derelict a few years ago and it was offered for sale for £1. It's now been refurbished as holiday accommodation so it's great that it has a future. The harbour would be sadly diminished without it.
Again I was trying to add more detail about the stonework, but the colour was still a bit too bright, I thought.
I had toned down the sea, but actually I thought it looked a bit dull and smudgy. So I added some colour back in and had a go at the stone surfaces and the boats - attempting to get some interesting marks and detail in without drawing in each stone. I used ink, inktense and acrylic in various dilutions.
So that's as far as that one got.  I'm not sure - these look a bit cartoon-like. Is this what I wanted to convey?   However these are really studies, so again I've set them aside and will review later.
Planning more work tomorrow!  Maybe a different palette?