Using Great Locations To Paint

Amateur and professional painters alike need inspiration. We need to see things in a new light, in different light, and in different weather in order to access the depth and textures of our surroundings. That’s why I decided to combine my recent holiday on the Devon coast with my profession of painting. Well, that, and the fact that combining them gives me a tax break! Little did I know that this would result in one of my best painting, yet!

Active Escape

I booked my holiday with a group called Active Escape. They specialize in all kinds of coast and water activities, from simply camping and cooking on the beach to more rugged activities such as coasteering and cliff diving. I’m not a really daring person, so the cliff diving was not an option. But, I do enjoy kayaking.

I spent a couple of days kayaking on my own, exploring sea caves and gullies and snapping pictures. With Active Escapes, I was able to get my lodging close by, and so got to soak in the views in all kinds of light. Morning, with soft lighting, as if the molecules in the air are not quite awake, yet, and mid-afternoon when the sun is bright, warm, and direct, giving a sharp edge to everything it touches. Evening showed deep shadows and softened edges, with richer colours necessary from my palette.

Easel Time

After a couple of days of getting “up close and personal” with the activities, wildlife, and people of the Devon coast, I was ready to start painting. And, boy, was I excited about the results! Have you ever had the certainty that your work was going to be exactly what you wanted? That’s how it was for me.

The crew at Active Escapes even helped me set up for the day. I started in early morning, with my photographs from the week’s activities handy, and started painting. I expected, at first, to paint a peaceful image with the ocean acting as a mirror to the beautiful sky, but had to change my approach completely. The water never stopped moving, and the clouds in the sky were laden with moisture, reflecting the rays of the rising sun. This is what I tried to paint.

I used cobalt for the basic “sky”, but that, of course, was far from enough for the complexities of this colourful morning. I included some yellows on the horizon, along with sienna, creating an ombre effect as it progressed up the scale to some thalo blue, ultramarine blue, and a touch of turquoise.

To contrast between the cloudy sky and the moving water, I used the same colours in the water as I did with the sky, only darker, since the water had its own colours as well as those from the sky. And, I used my palette knife to apply the paints, giving the texture I needed.

If you need great locations to paint, take your equipment with you on holiday, and paint what you see.


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