After reaching some kind of satisfactory conclusion to my mum’s birthday present dilemma, I felt a tremendous sense of unburdened freedom as I sought out my next subject. So it was without any surprise that I found myself pouring over my favourite Edward Seago book for inspiration. It was however a complete surprise (and, in retrospect, in complete delusion!) that I landed upon his view of ‘The Stone Quay, Ponza’.
A surprise because it contains a range of subjects that I find it easier to avoid than confront – namely, buildings and people. I did feel great though to be painting much more freely than I had in my most recent endeavours. So, after thrashing this one out, and really enjoying it… I felt slightly disappointed that I didn’t think very much of it! As I’d had so much fun painting it though, I thought that the least I could do was have another go at it. I was particularly keen to improve on the figures (check out the proportions to the buildings!) the shadows over the promenade, the boats in the foreground, the sky… well, I’m sure you get my drift – there were lots of things I wished to improve on. So, still full of enthusiasm I set out again.
And once again, much fun had… but surely that boat would capsize! I liked the shadow that ran along the seaward side of the harbour wall that defined the quayside. I also put in the shadows at the end, running them over all the other elements in one go. (In my first effort, I did everything piecemeal and I think it led to a disjointed overall image.)
So, just for fun, I tried another attempt. I think the boat/figures/buildings are much better proportioned and believeable, and I like the effect of applying the shadow at the end over both the buildings and the promenade, which I think helps with the unity of the image, but aside from these elements, and as much as I’d enjoyed painting them, I realised that I’d perhaps overstretched myself. What felt great, unlike my recent experience, was that I was not under any pressure to produce anything from this – I could just step away from it – and it felt wonderful!
After a brief period of respite, I turned towards another one of my muses, Edward Wesson. I was particularly attracted by the simplicity of the scene and the drama in the sky. I was bemoaning some time ago how my skies had moved towards rather pallid washed out affairs and that I’d lost a little confidence in rendering a much more bold approach. This sky was completed very quickly, with a lot of wet into wet passages (a few too many in some ways because there was a little too much bleeding from one wash to another). I felt that the foreground water had a certain tranquility about it, and I liked the intensity of the trees to the right of the church, but I didn’t feel as convinced by the sky as I’d hoped.
As this didn’t take long to do, and as I’d enjoyed tackling it so much, it seemed crazy not to have another go. This time I was keen to simplify the sky but maintain its drama, to shorten the foreground water, and to avoid the distant hills bleeding into the sky.
I was largely pleased with this effort – it took more washes and glazes to reach this conclusion than I’d intended, but I think there’s a directness and boldness about this study that I find quite appealing.
Ultimately, I’ve really enjoyed my painting this week and, while few of these will make it onto my gallery page – most likely just this second view of Blythborough church – I feel that I’ve learnt a tremendous amount that I hope I’ll be able to develop further in the weeks ahead. I’m feeling particularly excited about tackling some more of these ‘big skies’!