Seascape – time lapse ‘alla prima’

Skellig Michael

I really enjoyed painting this picture. The only part which was required to resemble a ‘real’ scene was the little island on the horizon – Skellig Michael. The rest was a conglomeration of elements from the coast of West Kerry and this makes for an enjoyable painting. In the normal course of events, the island should be on the one third line – to have a pleasing composition. In fact it was there in the original sketch and I moved it as the sketch was developed. Maybe it was because life on the island was anything but comfortable or maybe to balance the action on the left hand side, it just seemed right to be out of the norm. It is possible to ‘over think’ a situation.

Much of the white paint was added as pure white. Because the under layers were wet, the white was tinted with whatever was already there. The more the area is worked, the more the white is tinted. This is a technique I also use for snowscapes.

One more point which I notice from the video and I do without thinking. When a colour is introduced into the painting for the first time, as the Cadmium Yellow of the sunlight, to maintain harmony within the painting this colour is then dotted around the rest of the painting. Not only where it is required, as reflected light on the wave, but blended into colours already in-situ. I always try and have all colours dispersed in every area of the painting, especially landscapes. Example, the blue used in the sky is the same blue used in shadows and greens on the ground part of the painting. In the above painting, the sunset yellow was an after-thought, and the yellow used is so distinctive it would be an ‘alien’ element in the painting. Another way to harmonise colours is to use the same brush in different areas of the painting without thoroughly cleaning the brush between colours, if you know what I mean – the green used (Viridian) in the sea was left on the brush when I started to paint in the clouds of the sky.

I was thinking I might add some ‘final touches’ after the painting dries, but now I’m not so sure. The one session (alla prima) look of the painting is so fresh and honest, mistakes and all, I think I will leave it for a while.

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