Earlier this summer I painted a small sketchbook watercolour Painting of Seaton Sluice on location.
As well as being a family day out, it was a typical summers day in the north east, patches of blue sky with sunlight bursting through dark threatening clouds.
I decided to work the sketch up into a larger 14” x 10” studio painting on an Arches Watercolour Block which I made a video of showing the different stages. You can watch the video here on YouTube.
As in the sketchbook watercolour I decided to keep the rooftops of some of the buildings white to indicate bright sunlight striking the surface. I could have used masking fluid but instead carefully painted around them using just clean water.
The water allows the first wash of Cadmium Lemon to flow quite freely around the areas I wanted to keep white so that the application of colour looks fresh and lively.
Whilst the yellow was still wet, I introduced some Raw Sienna to the party accompanied by the delightful Rose Madder for the sandy beach colours.
Again, I left a few areas of white for the waves and the sunlight dancing off the surface of the pools of water. The rough surface of the paper helped to suggest the highlights.
Using Manganese Blue, the next step was to paint in the transitory patches of blue sky that appear behind the darker clouds.
Once again, I’ve wet appropriate parts of the paper to create some soft edges to the blue and to allow this colour to flow with ease.
Whilst this was still wet, next another touch of Rose Madder to create a gentle purple just above the rooftops. Let it dry.
Now for the dangerous part! Using some purple and a mix of Paynes Grey and Lamp Black it was time to create some drama.
I wet the paper where I want the dark clouds to flow then dropped in this dark mix, pushing it about, catching the rough surface in places where the paper is dry to emphasis the cloud edges. Initially it looked really dark, but I knew it would dry lighter.
A touch of French Ultramarine helped to add further interest to the clouds. More clean water added variation to the density of the sky.
You will notice also on the video that I don’t paint over the areas of colour once I’ve applied them. Doing so tends to kill the translucency of the pigment and the wash looses its freshness. It’s best to live with the shapes you initially make rather than trying to go over them to try and improve what you’ve already done……..you probably won’t.
Back to the darker colour for the higher clouds for a greater sense of ariel perspective. You will notice that I’m also varying the angle of the brush to produce more interesting marks.
When the sky is totally dry, it was time to define the buildings perched on the horizon, a distinctive feature in a Painting of Seaton Sluice. I carefully picked out the main details like the windows and chimneys. This took a while.
Having reviewed the sky, I wasn’t totally happy with a slight cauliflower effect. I lifted it out by applying some clean water then just disturbing the surface of the paint, dabbing it off with a tissue.
The sea is a mix of French Ultramarine and turquoise, moving the brush horizontally and allowing some of the white of the paper to show through for the waves.
I was careful to get the shapes right without getting too niggely or too tight. Then introduced some purple for the shallower pools of water.
Unlike the sketch, I decided to introduce a strong foreground shadow produced by a passing cloud to keep the interest in the middle distance. I used a much more intense purple colour. I also wetted the paint beforehand to let the colour flow and to create a gentle, soft edge where the dark shadow meets the sunlit sand.
Finally, I scratched out a few further highlights of sun on the surface of the pools of water with a scalpel.
So there you have it. A small sketchbook watercolour painted on the beach inspiring this larger studio Painting of Seaton Sluice.