Painting my favourite bay

This summer I have spent a lot of time swimming, walking and drawing in this beautiful corner of the Gower Peninsula. This is the Great Tor, the monumental promontory that separates Three Cliffs Bay from the smaller, and lesser known, Tor Bay. These are rocks I know well having been drawing and painting them for some 40 years. Below is a closer view of the Tor with the inclusion of figures to give some idea of its monumental scale.

I continue to try to loosen up my style of painting – still a very long way to go! – but I have left both these paintings be, when once I would have spent more hours putting in detail and moving in with a smaller brush to sharpen everything up.

Receding Tide, Tor Bay, Gower, oil on canvas board, 36.5cm x 36.5cm.

Exploring the rocks, Tor Bay, Gower, oil on canvas board, 12 x 12 inches.

Both paintings are for sale. Enquiries to pobbles2000@yahoo.com

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The loosening up process.

This is a follow up to my blog entry a few weeks ago, Painting and Gardening, posted 5 June. It’s the development from the underpainting of Rhossili. As you can see the square format is no more! To my eyes the composition wasn’t working so I decided on the rather drastic (and irreversible!) step of cropping the painting down to a rectangular format. There’s something about taking a saw to a painting that feels a bit like an act of vandalism that grates against my gut instinct, but I feel it is good for my soul – accepting that no individual painting is that precious, but part of the flow of a continuous learning process.

I’ve been studying the work of American contemporary painters: Martin Campos, Douglas Fryer and Sangram Majumdar, amongst others. I love their boldness and liberal use of paint, the way they allow the paint to do the work and incorporate accidental effects into their work. I am experimenting with the use of tools other than brushes – trowels, knives, rollers and silicon paint shaping tools – in order to relinquish some control. I am feeling this is now the way forward for me.

This is a detail from another painting I’m currently working on. The roughness of the edges and general mark making, which may not look unusual to most, are nevertheless a bold departure for me.

The paintings above are still clearly recognisable and controlled, but at least I have resisted my strong compulsion to tidy it up, put in more detail and tighten up aspects of the work. It’s a start. Onwards and upwards!

Looking back, Rhossili village from the clifftops. Oil on canvas board, 16 x 10.5 inches.

The Great Tor, Gower. 10.5 x 9.5 inches detail from a larger oil painting currently in progress.

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Two under-cooked paintings

Oil on stretched canvas, 24 x 16 inches

Oil on canvas on board, 24 x 12.5 inches

I have ‘let go’ of both these paintings sooner than I normally would. This follows on from the point I was making in my earlier blog entry, Painting and Gardening (5 June 2021), where I talked about trying to avoid diving in with a small brush, putting in too much detail, and generally tidying everything up… and at the same time tightening everything up, thus losing the initial spontaneity/directness/raw vitality – all qualities that I like and admire in other painters’ work. Like my steaks, I prefer my paintings to be medium rare rather than well done, though, in truth, I think I must do some more work on the first painting, without getting bogged down in detail – I reckon another five minutes or so under the grill! The wide panoramic painting I think can stand as it is.

The other thing that both these paintings share is a warm, brightly coloured ground. In both paintings fragments of this underpainting are left to show through. Below are two earlier stages of the first painting showing the hot, pinky-red ground. A bright underpainting influences subsequent layers of paint, and can result in an overall warm glow to the work if the paint is not applied so thickly as to obliterate the underpainting.

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Three Cliffs Bay, Gower

Another painting of the ever popular Three Cliffs Bay, Gower. This is has been hanging around the studio unfinished for a while, so yesterday I decided to get it done and posted. The tide is out, and the river winds its way to the sea.

Oil painting on canvas board, 30 x 30cm (12 x 12 ins).

The painting is for sale, as is all my work unless otherwise specified. Enquires to pobbles2000@yahoo.com

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Painting and Gardening

Recently I’ve been thinking about what I feel are parallels between painting and gardening. I have a reasonably sized garden and like to leave it a little ragged around the edges. I’m not one for manicured lawns, or formal, regimented flower beds. I prefer to leave some of it uncultivated and allow nature to do its own thing. We are told that this is a good thing for insects and wild life. For instance, it is fashionable to grow wild flower meadows to attract bees and other insects rather than mowing grass to within an inch of its life. But it is also the aesthetic that appeals to me. I like to see how nature goes about reclaiming its own.
What is this to do with painting? Well, I would like to adopt the same philosophy when I paint. I must admit this is a challenge for me. I find it difficult to let go and allow paint to do its own thing, to accept ‘happy accidents’ and let them be. To simply enjoy oil paint for its own intrinsic qualities. It doesn’t come naturally to me to relinquish control in my painting as I am more than happy do in my garden.

The above are recent underpaintings – that is to say, the first monochrome stage in the development of a painting, where I work out the composition, the main blocks of dark and light and intermediate tonal values. There’s a rawness about them that I like. I like that the artifice is visible – you can see the brush strokes, the unmodulated lines and edges, and the lack of fine detail. My natural tendency is towards ‘higher resolution’, as it were, to go in with a small brush and add detail ad nauseam, and tidy up lines and smooth out areas of colour. In doing this, the initial energy of the painting slowly but surely drains away.

The challenge for me is to retain this initial freshness into the final image…
WATCH THIS SPACE!

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Afternoon light at Three Cliffs Bay

I finished this painting yesterday based on my experience of a walk last week at Three Cliffs Bay, Gower. It was an unseasonably cold day, with a shower of rain never far away. I did some quick sketching, and took photographs. It was too chilly to sit for a long time.

Oil painting on canvas board, 40x40cm (16x16inches).

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Solitary Winter Swimmer at Langland, Gower

I’m currently working on a series of coastal paintings that focus on clouds. I am enjoying exploring the subtle greys and the rhythms of the ever changing cloud formations, attempting to re-create the atmosphere I experienced on that particular day. This is Langland Bay on the Gower Peninsula in south Wales, a popular venue for surfers and, increasingly, all-year-round bathers.

As usual I have several paintings in progress at any one time. This is the first that I’ve finished. It’s 12 x 12 inches oil on canvas board, and like all my paintings is for sale. If interested please contact me at pobbles2000@yahoo.com

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Two contrasting paintings of sand, sea and sky

These are two recent paintings of basically the same subject matter of sand, sea and sky. In the one above I have used a rather ‘sweet’ colour palette of greens, blues, mauves and ochres, whereas the one below is rather more ‘gritty’ and restricted to a few mostly earth colours. I actually prefer to work with a restricted palette, and I also prefer to paint the coast during the winter months when the colours are less saturated, more subdued. I like playing with subtle variations of greys. The winter months generally provide more dramatic skies and more turbulent seas that evoke the old Romantic aesthetic ideal of the Sublime – that aspect of nature which we admire but of which we are in awe.

Both pictures are beaches on the Gower Peninsula of south Wales. The one above is of Caswell Bay and the one below was inspired by Langland Bay.

Both are painted in oil on canvas board, the top one is 32 x 46cm and the bottom one is 30cm square.

Both these oil paintings are for sale, enquiries to pobbles2000@yahoo.com

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Low tide, Three Cliffs Bay

A bright but windy day at Three Cliffs Bay, Gower. This was an abandoned painting from a few years back that I decided was worth repainting yesterday afternoon.

Oil on canvas mounted on board, 29 x 30.5cm

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South Gower coast, morning light

Looking down from the cliff tops at the south Gower coast with Tor Bay in the foreground and the Great Tor proudly jutting out into the Bristol Channel. The tide is high with the cliffs silhouetted against the morning sun.

An oil painting on canvas board, 12 x 16inches

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