Monday, 23 March 2015
Painting St Ives
I was recently asked to paint St Ives, and as this is one of the most picturesque places in the UK, and also one of my favourite towns in Cornwall to visit, I was pleased to accept.
I first started by drawing the town on plain white paper, and then, after making a cuppa I came back and realised that I didnt like it. I'd even started to add washes of colour but knew right away in that moment that it just wasnt going to pan out.
Someimes, taking a breather, stepping away for a while and then coming back can allow you to see your work with a fresh persective and things you didnt notice before, often become glaringly visible.
I painted a wash of Paynes Grey over the original drawing. Yes, it's very dark but it works oh so well as a base colour!
Don't be frightened to scrap what you have started. If it doesn't feel right, and you know you are heading in the wrong direction, you are certainly setting yourself up for a long hard slog, fraught with trouble and that gnawing feeling of 'its not looking how I want it to' if you continue.
Its a brave thing to paint over a drawing that has taken you a good half hour to rough out, but I urge you to follow your intuition. Start again, paint over it, throw it away. Sometimes, you just know that its the right thing to do.
I was very glad I followed my gut, because as I started to add colour to the dark background, the town magically started to come to life.
I use many different layers of acrylic colour to create a painting. You need to be aiming for a bright picture, that shimmers with colour and light, yet retains depth. It can be a slow process but worth it for the end result.
I simplified some of the buildings, but worked closely with several photographs and images I found online to make sure that Id been able to paint in the essence of the town. I wanted to capture that feeling I get when I see St Ives for the first time. It always takes my breath away, the cottages and houses that cluster around the edge of the harbour, fishing boats lolling on the pale sand, and the translucence of the water - so many shades of aquamarine, jade and turquoise, through to cobalt, denim and navy blue away on the horizon. I thoroughly enjoy working with these colours and blending them together. If you really study the sea, you will see just how many hues of one colour there actually is, and it's changing all the time as the sun and cloud move across it. This is one reason why I find photographs so helpful to work from, a static image in this case can be very useful to refer to.
I am always aware of the seabirds too, the sky is always animated with the soaring shapes and screeching cries of gulls so it was imperative that I painted these in to lend atmosphere to the overall scene.
Here then is the finished painting, I hope you like it! You can see as the painting progressed, more and more detail was added such as tiny windows to the cottages, a man walking his dog along the sands, and white waves breaking on the shore. I have allowed certain parts of the painting to remain darker than others - you will notice that there is a little shadow in the sky, and this is the paynes grey that is shining through creating an appearance of cloud on the horizon.
This image is away to a publisher now, which I'm very excited about! Never a dull moment, I am now beginning another piece of work which I will share with you all very soon.
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