Sunday, 28 December 2008


This post showed you photographs of this beach through various times, tides, weather and lights - here are just a few of the sketches and paintings done in response to this - many plein air, others are large works on canvas 40ins+ and tiny aceo's done from sketches and memories. I like to work in a wide variety of sizes.

There have been several ongoing discussions here that are really relevant to this series - we've been talking about looking at the same place again and again through different light and seasons - and that is something that really interests me and that I often do - though not to the extent of visiting daily, more in bursts of lots of works over a whole day as the light changes by the hour (or minute with our weather!) on multiple occasions.

This series is about precisely that - the fantastic changes in colour, light, mood, what can be seen clearly and what is lost in shadow, vivid or dark, sunny or cold and breezy, the tide ebbing and flowing leaving pools and streams of glistening water, reflections and wet sand, sunsets, rainstorms. rainbows, wind, wild surf, calm days, blue skies and turquoise seas, silver or green or indigo seas - always different. Unfortunately this is 360+ miles away from me so I can't get there as often as I'd like :>( to do more plein air work there through the winter storms - which are spectacular down there and I would love to get down and paint :>) - so often I find 'bad' weather the most interesting to paint.

For anyone interested in colour, a sense of place, or the mood of a place on a given day, plein air sketching, revisiting a well loved spot regularly and observing the changes is essential. You learn so much and notice more and more. You see colours the camera can't catch. You see fleeting effects of light and colour that you try to fix in your visual memory. You feel the wind or the sun and hear the sea and the birds, which all adds to your memories for future paintings.

In the morning light the far cliff was brightly lit but by afternoon it became almost a silhouette with details hard to make out, backlit by the sun as it went lower in the sky, finally setting over the sea - sometimes in a vivid blaze of colour, other times in subtle silvers and muted colours.

Some people like to work with a limited palette. I find that within a painting I limit my palette but each painting requires different colours in the mixes to catch those fascinating changes. I like to have quite a variety of blues, reds and yellows and then colours like viridian, magenta, permanent rose and a range of colours that only get used occasionally but are perfect when needed, I always mix colours and rarely use them straight from tube or pan but within that mix need a specific blue for instance. So that means I have a wide range of colours to choose from.

Gesa has developed an interest in nocturnes and this is something that fascinates me as well and I've been working on a series, some are in the slide show above, I became really interested in the light on the beach at night and how very bright and light the reflections could be and the beautiful light in the sky just after the sun set as well as sunset itself.

I'm planning to continue this series from the sketches I have but will also think about a local area of water - maybe the local canal - where I can visit regularly at different times, catching the light and reflections and changes with the seasons.

If I think of somewhere local that will interest me enough to constantly revisit, I'll work in a variety of media - it may be that I base it on the canal at Aylestone, here, where there is a medieval packhorse bridge

- so - to stick to the same viewpoint on every visit?

which viewpoint?

or to simply look at a small area around there from whatever viewpoint appeals on the day?

I think it should certainly revisit the same viewpoint frequently, to investigate those fascinating changes in light and colour. Being me, I'm bound to end up loking at other views in the areas as well so I may as well be realistic and weave this mini project into the larger, slow burning (very slow at the moment - as in completely stalled!), waterways project on our local waterways.

I have to think about it. What do you think?


Gesa said...

Vivien, I have seen many of these before but never tire of them. They are just fabulous!

I completely agree with the familiarity... and I notice this so much in relation to 'my' fields and woodlands; just this last week paying attention to changes in light at dusk and dawn has been so useful, and illuminating (!); I think that is something I do like a lot about painting - it'S similar to good research as in good and careful observation, not being too quick to draw conclusions.

[I also see how this blog is actually going some way to discuss, repeat and develop some of these issues in more depth, which is a really lovely development]

I know that I'm not getting very far with my nocturnes this time, but there'll be plenty more times. I remember some of your seascapes being at nighttime so I will be watching out for more of them.

vivien said...

I hoped our blog would evolve this way with discussions with a little more depth or length about thoughts on work that interested us with an exchange of ideas. :>)

The research is often much more fun that doing the 'final' paintings! there's no pressure in the research phase , just time to experiment and develop, with some things becoming finished pieces in their own right.

I like the way your series are going and the ideas behind them. It will be interesting to see more and the way they grow and develop.

Jeanette said...

You are right Vivien. The same scene transforms into something entirely different with the light or weather or viewpoint. Your pieces of the same shore prove that point clearly and each piece shows a different side, but your style shines through.

I think this blog is the perfect place to discuss ideas and verbalize research, exchange thoughts and ways of working to help ourselves and others who are interested in depicting water.

Lindsay said...

Wow, it's great to see them all in one slide show like this. How varied and beautiful each one is and still carries your unique style.

Laureline said...

Oh, how utterly sublime seen this way! Your way of rendering shallow water, tidal pools, is just fantastic---all of it is, but I particularly noticed the elegance of those shallow pools this time.
I'm going to try my hand at night paintings, too, this year. I've long wanted to, but haven't had the courage to try, for some reason. The group's energy will be helpful in that regard!

Katherine Tyrrell said...

I think it's important to stay flexible - maybe have a 'favourite' view but also take a slightly different perspective on the same place. Walking around is good too!

I'll show you what I mean in my next post!

annie said...

I am looking forward to seeing more of this changing light affecting a landscape at different times of day. Karen Winters has done a stunning take of Lake Casitas, California,on her blog(CREATIVE JOURNEY, 12-26-08) with colors that only appear there at a certain time of day.

annie said...

The photo slide show and now the paintings--so much to feast the eyes upon and to study. I never tire of watching them when you put them on, and this time I found some I don't remember where the clouds and sea seem to darken as they approach each other and squeeze this brilliant light between them.

muddy red shoes said...

These are stunning Viv, all together too they really convey a sense of place. You need to come down here and live on that beach just so you can do more of these beautiful paintings. I love the wet sand especially. Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

you have a magic wand in your hand when you're painting water(and landscape, I remember those dry pods from the FPP). and yes, like everybody else, I agree with revisiting the same scene. It is very much like a relationship. the more you pay attention to it, the better the understanding, the more you discover, the better you adapt to it.

vivien said...

thank you all for the lovely comments :>)

Sarah when I win the lottery my first stop will be Cornish estate agents! with enough spare rooms for friends to visit :>)