Saturday, 11 September 2010


Watercolour on 140lb 300gsm knot paper

Southwold is a small seaside town on the east coast of England. It boasts a small harbour, plentitude of old cannons all facing seaward, an excellent pier and a lighthouse that is strangely set inland in the centre of the town. The photograph showing the lighthouse (taken with my back towards the cliffs) shows how far into the town it is situated.

This view I thought would make an interesting subject for a painting, but rather than the view of the lighthouse, I wanted to focus on the people that add so much interest to this shot. Eventually I narrowed the framing right down to the cluster of folk on the right. But this meant that the lady in a green top and black skirt was looking out of the picture - not good composition wise, so I mirrored her figure to face the right using Paint Shop Pro. Also, the boat mast in the centre rather cluttered up the scene so I used my artistic licence here and left it out.

Now the scene was set, I spent a couple of hours trying to get the drawing right, then another three sessions with the painting. Unusually for me, I painted the initial layer of all the figures first, and at the next paint stage added the form and shading. I'm pretty pleased with the way the couple on the right and lady on the left turned out, but goofed somewhat with the centre figures.
For the sky and chimneys I ventured for the first time in wet-on-wet technique and I have to say that this a lovely feeling how the colours mingled together here. I also got quite a buzz from adding the final details to the buildings with things like the window panes and shading. Seeing it all come together at the end is a marvelous feeling.

Suming up, I have mixed feelings about the work. There are certainly some mushy bits like the centre figures and other bits where I've surprised myself with things like the tall chimneys and young man on the right. This is also one of the few paintings I've done this large - full A3. So maybe I'll say its good, but 'could do better'.