The Sea Can Be Turquoise?

I’ve spent quite a few days down in Cornwall over the last few weeks on a family holiday closely followed by a course with Paul Lewin at the Newlyn School of Art. I’ve never had much success with sketching out of doors so I thought some exposure to some new ideas on his Coastal Painting mixed media course could help.

I did a few plein air oil paintings around Mousehole where I stayed and also in Newlyn. Because these were fitted in around other things they came out a bit tight but it was good to get into the swing of things before the course started. Did you know the sea could be turquoise? Mousehole is a great place for an arty break. Ken Howard even has a studio there.

Despite the turquoise sea it was pretty chilly and fogbound when the course started. The woolly hat I found in my pocket got used. Thanks to Sarah for the arty photo (note beard has gone for the Summer).

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On the course we were encouraged to make multiple sketches initially of various compositions and to get a good tonal range using water soluble graphite pencils. I’ve tried these before without much success as mentioned but they seemed to work better in Cornwall. Not worrying about where the dog has wandered to or is eating or barking at or chasing helps to improve sketch quality I think.
Here are the inital paintings from Porthgwarra, getting to grips with gouache.
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After a few days painting and sketching at Porthgwarra the final day was at Carn Groose on the north coast near Land’s end where I found a 2m by 3m ledge at the end of the headland which had spectacular views in every direction and was unnaturally sheltered.
Being at he end of the headland I wasn’t interrupted by anyone passing, even Paul struggled to find me.  The sea fog eventually lifted and I was eventually able to take off my hat and coat that hat been welded to my body for three days and apply some sun block. I was able to get into the techniques I’d picked up and completed these three paintings looking in varying directions from that single point. A real treat.
The Brisons from Carn Groose

The Brisons from Carn Groose

Lands' End from Carn Groose

Lands’ End from Carn Groose (I’ll straighten the horizon line).

Cape Cornwall from Carn Groose

Cape Cornwall from Carn Groose

Carn Groose to Land’s End (still wearing waterproof trousers!)

The course gave me a prod to persevere with outdoor sketches and also reignited my previous enthusiasm for water-colour. I found adding gouache to extend the range of effects and paint over any messes and define things without the slow death of using masking fluid to be really liberating. The most surprising thing was that is allowed me to play with paint splashing and dribbling outdoors in front of the subject which I’d previously only done (very enjoyably) using oils indoors. Getting oil too splashy outside would generally result in your efforts dribbling to the bottom of the painting on the walk home.
Overall a great use of a few days at the course and lovely to spend time in a beautiful cottage in Mousehole too, thanks to Adam and Helen for their cottage. My next step is to apply some of the things learnt to the greys and browns of the Severn Estuary.
Most of these paintings will be on view during North Somerset arts week, Mayday BH and the following weekend, 2-4th and  9-10th. My venue details are included in the North Somerset Arts Week Brochure entry.
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