The June/July Challenge between Mick Carney www.thepaintingstruggle.blogspot.com/ was selected by me. I chose four photographs taken at Dartmouth and Slapton Sands on a recent day trip. The ones at Dartmouth were of the inner harbour with boats marooned as the tide was out. Slapton Sands is some miles away further down the coast and is not so photogenic so I picked only two, one of the Inn there - supposedly the `best fish and chips in Devon' - and another of a beach scene. The fish and chips were average but that's by the way. Dartmouth is an attractive small coastal town in South Devon and Slapton Sands a long stretch of coastline of no great attraction. Slapton Sands was the scene of a notorious WW2 disaster- details were suppressed until after the war - when a large pre DD landing exercise was attacked by German E boats and nearly a thousand American troops lost their lives. There is a memorial there, a Sherman tank fished out of the bay, and a large plaque giving details of those who died. I'm a WW2 amateur enthusiast, if that's the right word, so having read about Slapton Sands have long wanted to visit.
The Sherman Tank at Slapton Sands
At this stage I don't know what Mick has selected as his subject but I decided to attempt one of boats in the inner harbour.
Dartmouth Inner Harbour
For me the main problem was the background as the shapes (boats) all connected very well. How to handle the harbour wall in the background? I confess the painting I've posted is my third attempt as I was unhappy with the previous two, mainly due to my treatment of the wall, although some problems were also obvious with the boats.
Boats marooned in the inner harbour. Fabriano Artistico 18" x 14" Not
I first made a loose but fairly accurate drawing trying not to be over fussy with detail. This was one of the problems with the first two. I then painted starting with the largest boat on the foreground and continuing across the painting connecting the shapes. I also partially painted the wall where the boats met. Finally I completed the wall and also added some detail of the mud the boats sat in. A John Yardley painting of boats on the beach was used for inspiration and simplification.
I actually tried some different tecniques for the wall with stippling, using a sponge dipped in paint, and also some Indian ink put on with a quill pen. Some of these marks were softened using a small bristle brush. I'm currently studying a John Blockley book (Watercolour Interpretations 1987 -William Collins & Sons) obtained from the library and he used a lot of `marks' as he calls them. The asking prices for used copies are ridiculous. He says `marks', others might say tips and tricks, but his work illustrates the remarkable effects one can attain.
In order to avoid fussiness I used only two brushes. The main one was my Da Vinci Artissimo 44 Kolinsky mop No 2 plus a rigger. The Da Vinci is roughly equivalent to a standard Size 14 round.
Paints used were Cobalt and Cerulean Blue with some Avignon Orange (Maimeri PR206) and Permanent Carmine for the red boat, A mix of Viridian and Cerulean for the boat on the extreme left. Darks were mainly a mix of Burnt Sienna or Burnt Umber and Ultramarine, while Raw Umber and Raw Sienna were used for the mud and also wall colours. Greys on the wall were heavily diluted Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine. Touches also of Cadmium Orange (Maimeri PO20). I think that's it. Where two colours feature I mostly mix on the paper. Comments welcome.