Saturday 19 July 2014

Painting in Sorrento

The Grande Harbour in Sorrento is actually the smallest of three harbours which has the old fishing boats in it as well as hundreds of people all packed under  bright coloured umbrellas.
I had been the afternoon before and chosen where I would sit, in the quiet section, out of the sun and away from the people, a nice little spot in-between the finishing nets.

This is what I painted in the morning.

Then I walked along the harbour front and found a nice little sheltered place in a tiny bay (still in the harbour) but here it was quieter and I managed to paint some of the people. 

I keep the shapes really simple and the colours nice and fresh. Although the paint was drying quickly, there is no time for laying washes and multi layering watercolour, I just get in the figures then add a simple background. If I was painting this in the studio I would have put the background all over first, right over the figures, then painted the figures on top, but outdoors, they would have gone for their lunch by the time the first wash had dried!

These are the same three figures with the addition of some boats. 

I went back to this little bay the following day and did this quick little study.

I saw this lovely couple they stood for ages (which was great for me) there is more to this little sketch than at first appears.

Then the quiet was broken by some lads who decided to play football. Well, one lad filled his bucket with water and proceeded to create a 'pitch' by wetting the sand.
I managed to remember to take a photo of my original drawing to show you how very simple my contour drawings are.

I am afraid the quality isn't great but you get the idea.

This was it once the paint was added. It became very rowdy shortly afterwards so it was time to move on.
I returned once more on my final day to my original spot by the boats and saw these two sorting out the nets. I couldn't rest it, they were there such a long time, working away and I must have been about 20 yards from them. They didn't see me but I know had I moved to paint them from the front view, they would have spotted me and I may not have managed a little painting after all.

I use a palette of Daniel Smith watercolours which I love. The bronze is a fabulous colour for skin tones and the slight shimmer (which you can't see here) is wonderful for skin. 

If you manage to come to my Open Studio later this year (September 10th - 13th) you will be able to see these originals as well as watch me paint. 
I did some sketching and have some ideas for some paintings which I hope to complete this summer which I will have on display too. I had a great week in Sorrento, lots of lovely painting subjects.

The things I learnt in Sorrento this week
The price on the menu is never the price you payIf you order a drink and sit down, you pay for the table.If you order a drink and don't sit down, you still pay for the table.Three euros is never three eurosThe price of a beer in the same cafe can be different from day to dayIf the sign outside the restaurant says 'recommended by Jamie Oliver' remember it doesn't say which Jamie OliverMost two drinks seem to come to10 euros (8 if you are lucky).Take more spending money on holiday than you think you will need.A 10 minute walk is going to be at least 20
If the bus I'd due to arrive at 8.45 it won't.
In Italy you need to smile and go with the flow, it is what it is.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Porlock Weir

This was the view from my window at 5am... red sky in the morning....

We woke up to glorious sunshine again but the forecast predicted heavy rain by lunch time, so there was a rush to Porlock along the coast. This is such a fab harbour, there are some modern sailing boats as well as old wooden ones and lots of little rowing boats scattered about.
There is so much choice that if you are not careful you can spend an entire morning deliberating and not achieving anything.
The wind was picking up and I chose to sit in the wind because that was the view I wanted to paint, I didn't want to sit in a sheltered spot and compromise on my subject. I loved the dark harbour walls behind these white boats and the water glistening on the mud, but it all had to be done pretty swiftly.
This was the stage after flooding in the initial washes. I think the wind assisted the drying time, and the paper had to be securely taped in place. I was a bit worried balancing the painting on my feet to take a picture, I has visions of it flying off into the mud. (Terry lost his hat to the wind today, one more item in the harbour)

Next I need to add the darks, I have stumbled upon a really nice colour combination which seems to be lovely for creating warm interesting darks, Tarmac and Raw Sienna with Sunlit Green dropped in for the green sludge of the harbour.

I really enjoyed painting this little view, it became very dark and overcast so in order to keep the original light I had to look at the photo I had taken at the first washes stage to add the shadows. But the haste with which I needed to paint it helped my concentration, that's for sure. 
There is a certain atmosphere in a painting painted directly outdoors rather than those painted indoors, they often become firm favourites of mine. This one I am really pleased with.

It poured with rain just 10 minutes after this photo was taken and continued to rain heavily on our journey home, but what a wonderful trip we had.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Lorna Doone Country

This cluster of buildings and a ford is so quintessentially English, I just had to do a little pen and wash of it. I view pen and wash as a sketch, an excercise in looking and a simple way to portray buildings. I try not to add too much detail which can be quite hard when using a fine nib pen.

This was the stage when the pen was complete before the colour was added.

The colour is added really quickly and simply.

After lunch I fancied doing something relatively simple as I had a demo to do in the evening, so I needed some time to switch off and I wanted to avoid spending time on a more complex painting.
I had spotted this wonderful subject from the car park when I arrived in the morning, a lovely little VW camper van in my favourite colour! It was in shade in the morning and I hoped it would be in sunshine that afternoon.

This is my finished painting.