Painting a a commission of Duckpool , North Cornwall, of the sea and a beach I’m not so familiar with, faced me with a few challenges.
The commission came from a lovely family to remember their first and favourite beach in North Cornwall that held so many memories and years of holidays in the area.
Duckpool is a fairly undiscovered spot in a beautiful valley that runs down to the sea from Kilkhampton in North Cornwall. The roads are steep, narrow and windy and not for the faint hearted, but this affords the most stunning rugged landscape laid out that has not changed for centuries.
The beach is framed by towering cliffs and it’s not difficult to imagine the years of smuggling and hard life in this valley.
I spent some time here just absorbing the feeling of the place and it is often the memory of a glimpse of light that stays with me. This was the case this October with beautiful low sunlight coming through the waves. My clients knew the sea well and loved the light at this time of year, so it seemed timely to include it.
We measured the space to get the best proportion for the painting. Scale is so important and I love a large painting to give impact. With a blank canvas of 140 x 90cm facing me, it’s a brave first step to put some acrylic inks fluidly onto the canvas.
The following pictures show the journey…..
First layers of acrylic inks , sky and distant coastline all forming
Add more form to the rocks
Add details and light to the waves
sparkle and movement with paint spatters
dragging whites and greys to layer water and light
October Light, Duckpool
The finished painting was framed in a tray frame. The wave has light and colour and the whole painting an immense feeling of energy and movement in the sea. The foreground balances the left background with the dark rocks. The stones in the foreground are loosely painted with a variety of colours giving the whole painting a harmonious feeling.
My best to date? maybe it feels like that because of the way I felt challenged. It was certainly worth the effort.
Prints of the painting are available. Please enquire here.
Surrender to the Ocean is the title of my centre piece Cornish seascape for my exhibition ‘The Sea and Me’ held in August 2017 at the Castle, Bude.
With no particular aim or scene in mind, I had one large painting to make for my exhibition and I had a blank 140 x 90 cm stretched canvas to fill.
I always have an iconic wave painting for my exhibition each year and I wanted this to be much more fluid rather than drawn, a certain wateriness whilst having vibrancy and lots of movement and energy.
The first washy layers gave me some form and the wave revealed itself.
The finished painting for the exhibition. It had mixed reactions, but everyone felt like they were standing in front of something quite formidable. I just wanted to dive under it… to surrender to the ocean, but for some it, they felt overwhelmed and feared drowning.
Surrender to the Ocean 140 x 90cm
I had very little time to complete it and after the exhibition, I actually completely painting out the foreground and reworked it, strengthening the whole painting. The foreground spatters didn’t make sense to me and were too random lacking depth and tonality. The finished reworked painting now hangs in Rick Steins restaurant at Porthleven.
large seascape painting of cornwall
Around 8pm I decided to take off to Northcott Mouth, a favourite beach just a mile away. I needed to see the sea, maybe do some sketching, but mostly just be. It was a pretty ordinary sort of day and by evening the wind had picked up and it had cooled off; a sign of the weather changing.
It’s these sort of days though that can catch you by surprise; when you think there will be nothing to see and then nature pulls out all the stops seemingly just for me as I stood there gazing. A moment in time when an ordinary evening turned into a sight of wonder. It felt like a lucky strike.
Panorama shot of Northcott Mouth beach
I only had my phone camera but took over 20 snaps as the clouds piled in and the sun dipped. As time went on the light got softer, lower and the sea took on the colours of the sky.
These moments often spark off ideas…. I could create a whole series of paintings from this one evening’s photographs. An entire exhibition of changing light, colour with dramatic skies all from one location.
Too late for my forthcoming exhibition in August ‘The Sea and Me’ but maybe for the next. Indeed, the panoramic shot above reminded me very much of a canvas I painted two years ago which featured the stone bivvy above, “Lifeguard’s Retreat”