Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas tidings

Merry Christmas to all the blog followers. I've taken the day off today, but worked on a painting of Gold Harbour yesterday. It's looking suitably stark, but I'm mulling over the possibilities of adding a bit more foreground interest, and will publish a photo soon.
On the subject of blog publishing, I am totally confused regarding "google+" and suspect I'm missing out on a wider audience. Any tips appreciated, or spreading the circle wider!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Leaving ocean Harbour

Ocean Harbour is a very impressive safe haven, accessed by a narrow entrance leading into a (relatively) sheltered bay. I say relatively sheltered, because the inner bay is dominated by the wrecked Bayard, A three-masted ship built in Liverpool. This was moored on the other side of the harbour, when it broke loose from its moorings in a gale, drifted across the bay, and was wrecked on the rocks where it now lies.
Not much remains of the whaling station here, but it is nonetheless a very atmospheric place. I managed a very quick sketch of the Bayard before the rain set in heavily. Elsewhere, there is a steam locomotive, which excited Hergen, a German passenger, bits of track, and a lonely hut. A group of penguins stood near a few poles, all that remains of some indeterminate structure, made a good subject which I hope to paint in the studio.
On the way out of Ocean Harbour, I did a quick painting of the rocky headland. I used coloured paper with quite a rough texture. It was interesting trying to capture snow and sea highlights -the whites- using this colour paper. Tones are all relative, and in the end the contrast between the bare paper and the dark indigo line of sea below the cliffs gave enough contrast to suggest breaking waves. The background peak was done with a fairly thin wash of body colour, to suggest distance.
The painting lacks foreground interest, but I don't want to ruin it with some black flecks suggesting birds. I may do a larger scale bird painting using this as a background which would be more compositionally satisfying  for me.

The paper, not being stretched, has cockled quite a bit, as you can see in the photograph. A bit of pressing should resolve this.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Right Whale Bay

I've been working on a half imperial version of the sketch I made at Right Whale Bay. Like the previous painting, I felt that this would be an ideal subject for a larger full imperial sized painting. Having a handy stretched piece of paper, and not wanting to wait to stretch and dry a larger sheet, I made do with the half imperial sheet. At the final stages of the painting, I darkened the background mountain, but am still undecided whether to put on another wash and darken it even further. At times like this I wonder whether I will ever resolve the dilemma between overworking a painting and not adding sufficient contrast to make it "ping".

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Gold Harbour

I have just completed a full imperial sized (22 x 30inches) painting based on the sketch I did at Gold Harbour; slightly different from the sketch as you would expect. I wanted to keep the elements simple, to draw the eye to the foreground penguins . The large elephant seal, for example, was painted in one quick wash and I've tried to resist going back to do any more to it. The photo is actually of the painting before I strengthened the area immediately in front of the tussock grass, but otherwise complete. A nice Christmas present for a South Georgia visitor?

Friday, 7 December 2012

South georgia Ski traverse

A group on the ship are recreating Shackleton's journey across the island, from King Haakon Bay to Stromness. I like the idea of painting the skiers, towing pulkas- the contrast between very bright foreground objects and subtle snow washes in the background makes for an appealing subject. With this in mind, I have sketched a few ideas. I've attached these not for any intrinsic artistic merit, but for anyone interested in my approach:

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Freezing paint and hands

An hour or two visiting Right Whale Bay- my aim is to capture general impressions rather than complete a finished work, so with this in mind I use rotring pen for the elephant seal and penguin outlines. The snow- streaked foreground is done with one wash rather than trying to build in aerial perspective, but this is easy to do at a later date, as long as I have the basic tonal values.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Wildlife everywhere

Early season in South Georgia is meant to be the best time to visit- leave it until midsummer and there are so many fur seals on the beaches that landing becomes impossible. At this time of year, though, there is an astounding amount of wildlife around. Elephant seals dominate the foreshore, but step back from the beach a little and penguins and fur seals take over. Unlike the petrels, Penguins move much more slowly and provide good models:

The top picture of the two above is at Gold Harbour; the lower sketch a brief sunny spell at Fortuna Bay. Dark clouds were building on the horizon, and we were quickly asked to head back to the ship. minutes later we were enveloped in a full-scale blizzard.