We live in an area with many beaches, and this beach is the closest to us. Immediately next to it is a large hill, and that’s the point of view from which this was painted (or, I should say, from which the source photograph was taken. I’m still not brave enough to paint in public).
I’ve been doing a great deal of reading and experimenting in the past few weeks – especially Carol Marine’s “Daily Painting” (this is an affiliate link from Amazon.com) which has really made me question how I approach painting and how much more successful I could be with a little planning (the book is really, really good and I thoroughly recommend it). Often I will launch straight into a painting with little more than a quick pencil outline to go on. More often than not, my haste leads me into trouble. So, as with the last painting, some planning went into this. I already knew the composition I wanted, but using a handful of felt markers in shades of grey, I made a number of thumbnail sketches until I found a value plan (ie; the distribution and placement of light and dark areas) that I felt worked. It was very interesting to discover that this value plan didn’t agree with the photograph from which I was working! Having established the value plan, I was then able to “test” my colours by making small dabs on the value plan prior to putting them on the main painting. This meant that I (more or less) stuck to the plan!
The other big change with this painting was a return to acrylics. Two factors caused this – firstly, when I opened my stay-wet palette containing my gouache paints a few days ago, several of them had gone mouldy, which was an unpleasant surprise. The second was a direct result of some other experimenting I’ve been doing. Chroma (the makers of Atelier Interactive Acrylics) make a medium called Binder Medium, which you can paint on to any surface to help their acrylic paint stick to it better. I was curious to know what kind of surface I’d have if I painted it on to heavy watercolour paper. To my surprise, I ended up with a slick surface that made painting with the acrylic paint very similar to painting with oils – so much so, in fact, that I tried both on the paper, side-by-side, and the results were virtually identical. Painting on a slippery surface is an acquired taste; some people love it, others hate it. I’m the former.
Once I was into the swing of this painting, I discovered one small issue with painting onto the binder medium – as it’s not absorbent, very wet paint would shrink into pools leaving pinhole gaps behind – you can see this quite clearly in the shadows cast by the bushes down the left-hand side of the painting. I could have gone back and fixed this but ultimately decided it could simply represent highlights in the bumpy sand. In future, of course, the solution is to not dilute the paint so much!
Overall I’m pleased with this painting, but as is usually the case, I’m already thinking about what to paint next!