I am still working on this painting, just an update to show how far I’ve got. Not much further TBH but it has been Christmas…
This painting, done in gouache, will probably be my last in this series of ‘Hope Cove’ images.
Hope Cove is the place where all of our summer holidays were when I was a child, so it has a special place in my heart. We also have a family reunion on the first weekend in July in Hope Cove. My grandparents moved there with their kids (my dad!) during WWII. My uncle met his wife there. My mum was from Kingsbridge which is a town nearby, and I have lots of family and memories of there as well. There is also a lot of sadness associated with Hope Cove, more on that later…
In the first painting in the series, Hope Cove Boats, I was trying to capture the brightly painted boats, and the reflections in the water. Things are very bright and colourful. But something else has always intrigued me about these boats, and that are the long ropes that anchor the boats to the beach to stop them drifting away. I wanted to capture those ropes in the painting. They anchor more than the boats, they link the water in the mid part of the painting to the foreground, helping to tie the image together.
The ropes are also a metaphor, and form part of the visual language of the painting. Here it is not very deep meaning, just that we as a family used to be very close, and we are like the boats, and the ropes bind us together, and to this place.
In the second painting in this series, the ropes are pulled taut, as if some of the boats are straining to be let free. Or to break away from the family.
In this second painting, which was done using mainly gouache and very little watercolour, things begin take on more detail. Things become clearer. The colours of the boats are still bright though.
For the third painting I’m doing now, wanted it to look a little bit more serene, maybe a bit sadder.
Using a mix of really washed out ultramarine blue and transparent white I painted the sky using a wet-on-wet technique, using a clean mop brush loaded with water and a clean sponge to pick up the colour and get the wispy clouds. The cloud is where the white of the paper is showing through. I will not touch the sky again after this point, so I will need to keep that area clean of drips and fingerprints etc!
For this painting I did do a thin wash of colour over pretty much everything that was left, but I wasn’t too concerned about the actual colours, they are just an undercoat and using opaque gouache over the top very little will show through, if any at all.
It might be worth me showing you the actual palette for this painting, because it is the same palette used for the previous two. I haven’t added any more paint to the palette since the first painting in this series! In fact I also use this same palette for the narrowboat painting that I did before.
This is a mixture of watercolour and gouache on the same palette. The blue bottom right is a mixture of ultramarine, cerulean blue, and opaque white. The green is made from lemon yellow, a tiny amount of neutral tint plus a spot of W&N sap green. I prefer to mix my own greens where possible.
I decided to make the trees look more lifelike in this one, so I’m working on them with a narrow no.2 brush. trying to get the bushes and trees look a bit more 3d, so I added a lot more neutral tint to the bottom parts of the bushes, making them almost black.
Pulling back you can see that the overall effect is more detailed and lifelike, but using a smaller brush makes for very slow work.
I will post more on this painting as I make more progress. I’m going to be spending some time on this over Christmas and into the new year. In the meantime I hope you have a merry Christmas 2019 and happy new year for 2020!
I have been fascinated by the view across this tiny harbour to the hill opposite for many years. Earlier this year I did a watercolour and gouache painting of the same scene, which was done in a looser style but set me off on a quest to paint the most realistic water and reflections that I can manage. This time I decided to make the painting more realistic, which from the image above I hope you can see I’ve succeeded.
I started by laying in the outline of the boat and the horizon, then the breakwater and the side of the hill. At this point I realised that I was committing myslef to drawing and painting an outboard motor on the main boat. I’ve since found out that they are devilishly hard to paint and draw. I think I carried it off, but it was one of the toughest paintings I’ve done!
I also decided at this point to add some people into the painting. That was a mistake in this case, and I removed them towards the end of the painting.
I started laying in some background colours, so added some green that I had left over from the previous painting. This green was made from some lemon yellow and some cerulean blue.
The tea layer was laid in with blocks of colour just to cover up all the white. I left the small boat white and also the outboard motor, which will be very light so I didn’t want to paint that yet if I could help it. You can also see that I added the people.
I painted the sky with a mix of Daniel Smith ultramarine gouache and white gouache, overlapping the hillside a bit. This wasnt a problem because I planned to repaint them anyway. Also painted the red on the boats using a mixture of bright red watercolour and lemon yellow for the middle boat and a darker red gouache on the top of the boat in the distance.
I added the shadow under the boat using a darker version of the sand colour (Windsor & Newton flesh coloured gouache with a little added alizarin crimson and neutral tint). Note that I also repainted the boat with a stronger mix of the previous colours.
Next I started working on the outboard motor, putting in some white mixed with a tiny amount of neutral tint. I made the breakwater darker and started adding reflections in the water.
At this point the painting seemed to be getting away from me, and was getting further away from my original vision. It was time to start taking control and bring it back together!
I painted in some more of the water colour and reflections, as well as more detail on the outboard motor. I also added more neutral tint under the boat to make a darker shadow there.
I also painted a bit more detail on the hill behind.
In the above image you can see things are starting to come together, but something is still not right. Time for re-evaluation.
So, I took the manumental decision to repain the beach. I mixed an opaque mix of W&N light flesh coloured gouache with a touch of alizarin crimson and a little white gouache. I painted over the people. In the water I used a mixture of green with a little of the colour I used for the breakwater to cover the outline of the people.
With the beach re-painted it looked a bit flat, so I went back in to add some detail and some variation.
I repainted the boat with another layer of light blue, and the red with a darker red (mixed with neutral tint.). I also added some shadows to the propeller on the boat.
I added some more reflections in the water and foam and some sparkles to the water using white gouache neat from the tube on a fine brush. The water is looking pretty good at this point. I also added the worm casts on the beach, if you have ever been to Hope Cove you will know about those!
Finally I added the ropes and anchor lines and the rails on the side of the boats. All finished! I was really pleased with this painting, and it sold almost immediately which was great, even if I feel a little sad to see them go.
Hope Cove is a place very dear to my heart. Pretty much all of my childhood holidays were spent here, along with millions of my cousins and distant realtives. This annual reunion carries on every July, and in 2015 I took a photo that I always mean to make into a painting when the time was right.
I changed the perspective slightly for the painting. Remember, we are making a piece of art, not trying to reproduce a photo as exactly as possible. What would be the point of that?
This painting also started off being a watercolour and somewhere during the process I decided to switch to gouache, which you will see in the photos below. In this painting very little of the watercolour underpainting shows through in the finished result, although its spirit is there.
The initial sketch I did using a brown watercolour pencil, which I think is OK if you’re going to use gouache later but might be a bit heavy for watercolour. I also think I pressed a bit too heavily when I drew the image, which meant that corrections were a bit difficult. My recommendation: use a 4B pencil instead, which makes a nice dark mark without pressing to hard.
I decided that the beach colour wasnt quite right so darkened it down a little bit. I also started to paint the hill in the background. In later paintings I’ve gotten better at painting the hills and trees etc.
I painted part the boat and some of the detail in the water. Then Began another layer on the hillside. At this point I’m trying to get the reflections in the water established.
Adding the more reflections into the water using a thicker mix of the blue paint. The blue is ultramarine mixed with white and a touch of cerulean blue.
I finished the hill and the detail on the boat in the middle distance. Started working on the shoreline. That needed a little bit of foam and sparkles on the waves as they are breaking on the beach.
I also added the shadow under the boat and the ropes holding the boats in place. The finished painting looks OK, in the companion painting I did next (upcoming blog post) I have got the process down a little bit more and so looks a bit ‘tighter’.
Hope Cove again.
Hope Cove, Devon. Looking out to sea.