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July 2017

Tricky Reflections - Whitehaven Harbour


So above was a photo kindly sent in by one of my subscriber friends (Thanks Tony!), and a question about how to handle a scene like this...  So I had a go and this is my effort...

Tricky reflections whitehaven harbour

As you can see, I...

1) Changed from landscape orientation to portrait, and moved the horizon up a notch or two

2) Moved the dominance of the central about away from the middle

3) Simplified the background - just think about shapes and not what they are

4) Reduced the number of boats

5) Concentrated on those reflections - they are the key part of the painting


Pont Street South West London looking up to Saint Colomba Church

Saint colomba church west london

London, England, 15" x 11"

Pont Street in South West London, looking up to the church of Saint Colomba.  A greatly simplified scene from a point of view of the buildings left and right.  Their facades have many horizontal and vertical lines which if you included them would make the scene incredibly tight. Pedestrian crossings are a good thing to have to either frame the picture or help lead the eye into the composition.  And you don't need to be too precise over painting them either.


Coming home - Staithes

Coming home staithes

Staithes, England, 15" x 11"

A study of the North Yorkshire coastal village of Staithes, at high tide with a fishing boat coming up the river.  Reflections can be soft or hard - soft as in using some wet in wet to get that faded effect, or hard as in waiting for one layer to dry before adding in another layer of water.  Here I went for the second option, and trying to replicate the light areas of the boat and buildings in the water.  Staithes is lovely when the sun's out.


Steps, Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain

Steps plaza mayor madrid spain

Madrid, Spain, 15" x 11".

A study of some steps leading up into the busy Plaza Mayor square in central Madrid, Spain.  So the steps are the main feature of this painting.  I think with hindsight, I could have had them take up an even larger proportion of the scene.  And fun to do as well with the figures and steps all merging in with each other, plus some clear water allowed to drop in there to add some interesting effects which you can only do with watercolour.


Westgate Street Bath, towards the shops

Westgate street bath towards the shops

Bath, England, 15" x 11" 

A view down Westgate Street in Bath towards the shopping centre.  Lovely colours of the building walls - Bath Steone, which I hoped to emulate.  Distant people are suggested with some highlights and legs and bodies.  There's not much traffic in this part of town, but I felt I had to add a car emerging from the shadows.


Town Square Villefranche-de-Lonchat, France

Villefranche-de-Lonchat Square

Villefranche-de-Lonchat, France, 15" x 11"

A quick sketch of the square in the town of Villefranche-de-Lonchat.  Done with a limited palette.  Sorry to the locals as I removed some small trees in teh square which for me did nothing for the composition.  Well, trees can only be temporary anyway!  I try to give an impression of the old stonework rather than painting individual stones, I introduce a number of different colours into the walls, then a bit of clear water splattering to add to ageing effect.


Long Old Barge, Bristol Waterfront

Long old barge bristol waterfront

Bristol, England, 22" x 15".

A plein air with the 'Exiles' on the Bristol Waterfront.  I thought the long cabin of this old barge moored up on the Bristol Waterfront made for a nice composition as it ended and joined up with the background buildings.  Its lines lead you into the picture as do the row of smaller craft on the other side of the water.  I remember it being a dull day, but perhaps there's a bit of light bouncing off that barge top....


Barge on the Klong River, Bangkok

Bangkok klong river

Bangkok, Thailand, 15" x 11"

From a reference photo from a friend (thanks Feroze!) and an attempt at quite a complex scene - the buildings along the river's edge and the reflections.  This was a first attempt by me of a scene from this part of the world.  I had to make a strong effort to stop painting - with all that detail in the buildings, you could have gone on an on, and could have lost a fresh and loose feel to things.  Hopefully it worked out.


Notre Dame spire and St Foy la Grande

Notre dame spire st foy la grande

St Foy la Grande, France, 15" x 11"

Another 3 colour painting using my limited palette of a yellow, red and blue.  This time a scene in the market town of St Foy la Grande in France.  I wanted to make a bit of contrast in the background - there was a really dark archway here, so I placed a light figure and some parked car roof tops to emphasise the contrast.  There were 3 main stages to the painting - first wash, then buildings/cars, then with a smaller brush picking up details and figures.