Monday, 27 May 2013

Turn of the Tide, Rossbeigh Beach

 One of my favourite places in County Kerry is Rossbeigh Beach.   My first visit to this vast sweep of mountain-fringed sea and sky eight years ago inspired me to stop taking holiday snaps and start taking photos;  there were walkers and swimmers, people riding ponies in the surf; and above all those wonderful smooth, rounded pebbles - pink, green and grey.

a cloudless October day
© Teresa Newham 2013
Last Autumn I was there on a sunny day without a cloud in the sky.  It was chilly but there were a few people around, braving the wind to take in the stunning views;  and as I had a pen and pad with me I took the opportunity to scribble down a little sketch, which I coloured up afterwards in the warmth of my hotel room:


initial sketch for Turn of the Tide, Rossbeigh Beach
© Teresa Newham 2013

When I came to make a painting of it a couple of weeks ago, I tried out some colours beforehand as usual.  I settled on ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson, raw sienna and turquoise, and tested them on tinted paper;  they were vibrant on their own but combined into some beautifully subtle washes.  I thought the swatch in the middle would probably be the effect I went for:

trying out beachy colours
© Teresa Newham 2013
I applied the paint straight onto the paper, laying down my initial washes and positioning the sea and the mountains; at this stage the beach was pure raw sienna and a little flat.  I found myself livening it up a little with the other colours.  Somewhere along the way I'd abandoned my original idea and the painting was emerging as something far more vibrant!

the colours take on a life of their own . . .
© Teresa Newham 2013
Getting thoroughly caught up in the colours, I sketched in some seaweed and the pebbles in the foreground in all the shades I could blend with my four basic paints , joining them up to the seaweed with smaller pebbles.

. . .  and the beach comes to life
© Teresa Newham 2013
Finally I added in some figures and shadows.  The finished painting is not at all what I intended (in terms of colour, at least).  This one really took on a life of its own, and is none the worse for all that!

Turn of the Tide, Rossbeigh Beach
© Teresa Newham 2013

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Skellig Morning

Skellig Morning
watercolour
© Teresa Newham 2013
For some time now I've been meaning to produce a companion painting to Skellig Sunset, and my recent watercolour experiments have encouraged me to finally get to work.  So I laid down some diluted raw sienna, and when it was completely dry added some very wet washes of cobalt blue, watching with interest as the water ran back across the paper in what I hoped was a reasonably controlled way:

initial washes drying into runbacks
© Teresa Newham 2013
The composition was loosely based on a watercolour sketch and some photos looking South West  from Valentia Island, taken during our holiday in County Kerry last October: and to make the whole exercise more interesting I decided to restrict myself to using just the two colours.  They worked together well in an earlier painting of mine called Swan, so I thought I might be able to get away with it again!

the Skelligs - a painting in themselves!
© Teresa Newham 2013
Once I'd painted in the Skelligs floating just above the horizon I was tempted to walk away from the piece right there and then, and get it framed up just as it was.  There is so much light and space around these rocks when you see them for real, it seemed a shame to add anything else!

adding the rocks
© Teresa Newham 2013
But it is supposed to be a companion piece, after all, and although the composition is not the same as Skellig Sunset, I thought I'd better add in some more rocks, and the foreground, so as to put everything in context.  Plus it's given that raw sienna and cobalt blue the chance to sing out against each other at full strength!

finished painting & source material
© Teresa Newham 2013