This year I visited Cornwall for the first time that I can really remember. When you get there you can see why the landscape and the setting have inspired so many artists and so many choose to live there. I came away with a number of images, some of which have already become paintings. This is the story of two of them.
The top left image is a view from the hillside in Lamorna. There was an open studios event going on at the time and small white building behind the bushes is an artists studio. I forget his name. The other picture is a whelks and muscles attached to a rock on the beach at St Ives. To deal with the right hand side first. I was attracted by the subtle different colours on the muscles, the sheen of the rock and the contrast with the yellow whelks.
To render this accurately is frankly beyond my skills. I time this summer to experiment as Hugh Mendes had gone to USA leaving me the keys to his studio. Thus I was able in invade on a regular basis to try new projects. I started with a small version on board. and worked this up to the large version (left). It involved several layers of different gray and blue paint. Then simply a question of going a bit mad with arcs of different colours paint. After a couple of weeks I had achieved the painting on the left. I was pretty pleased with this but it lacked enough energy so more yellow whelks were added.
It was a very rewarding project and may provide me with a new direction to try, sort of semi abstract. I also benefit from painting on a big scale. Then onto the valley view.
The painting is of the same size and started off with a green coloured ground over the whole canvas. Then the sky was marked off in blue and a rough sketch of the major features added over the top. Blokcing off the bush on the right in blue helped me get a real sense of it all, as did the outline of the tree on the left.
From this I added sky in solid blocks of paint. My idea had been to do the whole painting in this fashion but again I sound found this wasn't going to work. Instead I started building up different layers of colour including the lines of the hedges and the buildings.
Even though they will eventually be hidden I painted in the buildings, it helped add depth to the building and also define the foliage around them. I should say this is all oil paint by the way and the main development I have made since I started is the deployment of more paint. Then it was simply a matter of continuing this painting, adding in the main tree and the path and shrubs in the foreground.
Hugh's tip was that the elements in the centre of the painting were a barrier and should be replaced by just a path and the sky was too much and should be knocked back. So this is what I did. It took several attempts to get the texture on the path but was eventually achieved by dabbing with a fan brush. This and adding the shadow to the plants along with the lines of the phone cable achieved the final effect. I am very pleased with it. The big question is which one of these two styles should I follow?
William John Mackenzie
I am an artist with a specialism in landscapes and still life. My contact details are here.