Sailing boats in Mousehole harbour, Cornwall

"Sailing Boats, Mousehole", Mousehole, Cornwall.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2008.

Spring in Dentdale, North Yorkshire

"Lane through Dentdale", Dentdale, North Yorkshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2008.

River and Spring Trees, Dovedale, Derbyshire

"Spring in Dovedale", Dovedale, Derbyshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2008.

Fishing boat in Burnmouth Harbour, Scottish Borders

"Burnmouth Harbour", Burnmouth, Scottish Borders.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2008.
Burnmouth is a small village situated between, Berwick-upon-tweed to the south and Eyemouth to the north, on the East coast of the Scottish Borders.

The harbour and village are enclosed by cliffs on one side and the North Sea on the other. A few fishing boats left the harbour on their morning trip while I was doing some sketches and notes but otherwise not that many boats in what must have been a busy harbour in the not so distant past.

Painting of boats in Newlyn harbour, Cornwall

"Beached Boats at Newlyn", Newlyn, Cornwall.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2008.

A bright morning light reflecting of the wet beach at the tide slow goes out leaving a collection of interesting boats beached amongst the seaweed.

Sea and rocks on the North Cornish coast near Sennen.

"Rocks at Sennen", near Sennen Cove, Cornwall.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2008.
There's something impressive about looking at the forces of nature... firstly, those that created the rocks and secondly, the sea, along with the wind etc trying to break them down.

This oil painting shows a tiny section of the north Cornwall coast between Sennen Cove and Land's End, that's exposed daily to all that the Atlantic ocean can throw at it. On the day, the sea had nothing more than a large swell and almost at high tide, but created some interesting loose shapes which contrasted with the sharper shapes of the rocks.

Painting of Cornish sea cliffs

"From Gurnards Head", Gurnards Head, Cornwall.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2008.

This view is looking from Gurnards Head, on the north coast of Penwith in Cornwall, towards Pendeen Watch and the lighthouse on the distant headland.

Gurnards Head is a superb place to explore, assuming you have a head for heights that is. It has stunning views up and down the Cornish coast, or just watching the waves crash against the cliffs and rocks and the sea birds passing by, all add up to a wonderful location to spend a few hours drawing.

Landscape with some snow near Beeley, Derbyshire

"View down the Lane", near Beeley, Derbyshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2008.

The Ranelagh Press Award winner at the Royal Society of Marine Artists (RSMA) exhibition, Mall Galleries, London

I was delighted to be informed that one of my four watercolour paintings had won an award at this years RSMA (Royal Society of Marine Artists) exhibition. The painting was selected for The Ranelagh Press Award, the first time this award has been presented at the RSMA exhibition and for me a great honour, in having my work selected and receiving the award.

The exhibition is currently being held at the Mall Galleries in London (ending on the 26th October at 3pm) for those wishing to have a look at some stunning marine paintings from both well known and established RSMA members, of which their are to many to list, plus selected paintings from non members work, of which their was a very high standard.

See the Mall Galleries web site for opening times etc. There are the usual demonstrations by RSMA members held over the next two weeks, again contact the gallery for dates, times and artists participating.

The 'Young Artist Award' was also handed out at the Private View. If there are any young (16 to 25 years) artists that wish to have a chance at winning the top prize of £500, start getting those paintings ready for next years show.

Snow on Froggatt Edge, Derbyshire Peak District

"Following the Path", Froggatt Edge, Derbyshire.
 Oil. Alistair Butt © 2008.

Snow covered Froggatt Edge, Derbyshire

"Path through the Trees", Froggatt Edge, Derbyshire.
 Oil. Alistair Butt © 2008.

A late afternoon sun providing some wonderful cast shadows across the snow lying on Froggatt Edge in the Derbyshire Peak District. The foot path runs most of the length of the edge as it heads towards Curbar Edge. The edge runs parallel to the right hand side, just beyond the small bushes to the very right of the painting.

It's a wonderful area for finding subjects to paint, whatever the time of year, with areas of woodland, mixed areas like the painting above through to the outcrops of rock formations scattered along the edge while not forgetting the local sheep that can be seen grazing.

Watercolour Painting - Herdwick Sheep and Great Langdale, Cumbria

"Looking up the Slopes", Great Langdale, Cumbria.
Watercolour. Alistair Butt © 2008.

While walking along the valley of Great Langdale, in the Lake District, a break in the cloud lit up part of this view. The small stream running down the hill, the Herdwick sheep grazing in the sunlit field while the background hills, Side Pike being the main one, were still in shadow.

The Herdwick Sheep are one of my favourite sheep with there range of fleece colours. Ranging from pale creams, through light grey, dark or blue grey to others with russet to dark browns while the head and legs are pale cream.

The 'steep' route out of Great Langdale is over the pass which is between the two main hills shown and leads via Bleatarn into Little Langdale. It might not look that much from this view but this view is about half way up.

The more tradition view is about 90 degrees to the right and looking towards the Langdale Pikes and the associated mountains.

Watercolour Painting of street in York looking towards York Minster

"Looking towards the Minster", York, Yorkshire.
Watercolour. Alistair Butt © 2008.

Apart from the superb view looking towards York Minster, what really attracted me to this view was all the interaction of light and therefore also shadow.

The 'direct' sun light on the right hand building and those at the bend in the street, the 'reflected' light on the left hand buildings and the 'bounced' patches of light on the road from the windows above on the right. The people walking up and down the street were catching both reflected and bounced light and broke up what would have been boring patch of tarmac. Although, thinking about it, it could or would make an interesting subject if the road was wet and lots of reflections.

Watercolour Painting... Snow at Linton, North Yorkshire

"Mid Winter Snow", Linton-in-Craven, North Yorkshire.
Watercolour. Alistair Butt © 2008.
The snow adding something special to what is already a delightful view of village of Linton-in-Craven or Linton, located in the North Yorkshire Dales. The village has many possible subjects for painting and also throughout the year, though it's not so open in the summer with all the large trees in leaf. Autumn time is stunning with the trees that line the stream changing colour and if timed correct the sun back lighting them - almost a reverse view of the above watercolour painting. Also at that time and through winter/spring the stone cottages scattered around the village green and stream come more into view and add an additional dimension.

Winter Landscape Watercolour Paintings...

"Across the Snow Fields", near Hill End, North Yorkshire.
Watercolour. Alistair Butt © 2008.

To help speed up the painting of the foreground, I first painted all the dry grass/vegetation. Then using Winsor & Newton Colourless Masking Fluid I masked each and every bit of dry grass/vegetation. Then the North Yorkshire stone wall and shadows on the snow could be painted. It should be noted that some colour is or can be lifted when removing the masking fluid therefore it's not something I'd normally do. The alternative would be to mask the areas of dry grass/vegetation and then paint them in, after having painted the shadows and wall, a technique that works better when there's some colour behind for example: grass or masking leaves on trees
"Last of the Evening Sunlight", Yockenthwaite, North Yorkshire.
Watercolour. Alistair Butt © 2008.

A late afternoon patch of sun bathes one of the collection of farms at Yockenthwaite, Upper Whafedale, North Yorkshire. If there's one 'minor' drawback to the North Yorkshire Dales in mid winter, it's that the sun drops down behind the hills an hour or so before sunset. This place one valley side into shadow which then quickly climbs the other.

Watercolour Painting - North Yorkshire village with snow...

"Winter Snow at Thorpe", Thorpe, North Yorkshire.
Watercolour. Alistair Butt © 2008.
Thorpe is a delightful collection of stone farms and cottages a short distance from the main road though Whafedale in North Yorkshire. A regular spot for many art groups, though not that easy to get to when the small lanes to the village are covered in snow. It does have the added bonus of the equally stunning village of Linton and Linton Falls (waterfall on the River Whafe) a couple of miles up the road, which makes for a superb day's sketching or painting.

Watercolour painting - boats in the harbour at Mousehole, Cornwall

"Early Morning Shadows", Mousehole, Cornwall.
Watercolour. Alistair Butt © 2008.

Watercolour Paintings - boats in the harbour - St Ives, Cornwall

"Between the Shadows", St Ives, Cornwall.
Watercolour. Alistair Butt © 2008.
A moment of luck presented this view as the passing clouds cast a shadow over the distant hill, which is covered with some of cottages and hotels that make up St Ives, a bright strip of sunlight on the middle distance, highlighting the boats and the buildings around the church and pier, while the foreground, has the mixture of cast shadow from the main pier (to the left) and the ribbons of water as the tide slowly went out.

By no means an easy subject but a real joy to paint. I hope, time allowing, to produce a large oil of this subject.

Watercolour painting - Fishing boats and cliffs - North Landing near Flamborough Head

"Ready for Action", North Landing, Flamborough Head.
Watercolour. Alistair Butt © 2008.
Update: This painting won the Ranelagh Press Award at the 2008 RSMA exhibition.
Not every trip to North Landing, situated on the coast to the east of the village of Flamborough and north of Flamborough Head, is one lucky to see this number of boats out. More than often they are pulled up the very steep slope, about or higher up than the foreground boat or just one or two.

The area of Flamborough head has chalk cliffs which produces some wonderful bays to look down into from the coast path. The RSPB has one of it's nature reserves, Bempton Cliffs, just up the coast, again offering superb cliff views while not forgetting the wonderful sea birds that nest on the cliffs - best during the breeding season. Local fishermen, from both North Landing and Bridlington (to the North), provide scenic boat trips to see the caves and bird sanctuaries as well as fishing trips.

Watercolour Painting - Boats in the Harbour - St Ives, Cornwall

"Alongside the Pier", St Ives, Cornwall.
Watercolour. Alistair Butt © 2008.

Watercolour Painting - Cornish Beach with stream, sand, rocks and waves.

"Beach at low tide", Cornwall.
Watercolour. Alistair Butt © 2008.
This view caught my attention early one morning on a beach in Cornwall with a crisp side light catching this group of exposed rocks as the tide went out.

The foreground was helped by the small stream running into the picture along with adding the superb reflections from some of the rocks.

Watercolour Step-by-Step Demonstration - The harbour at Looe, Cornwall

Stage One:
Having first stretched the watercolour paper and drawn the image, the first wash was to establish the sky (light blue section top left) and add a small amount of warmth (cream colour) to what would end being the highlights. Next all the highlights were masked with Winsor & Newton Colourless Masking Fluid. 95% of the highlights are on or near the water and does save a lot of time when that section is to be painted. The whole background hill was then given a light 'shadow' wash with some areas (roof sections) being lifted out.

Stage Two:
Starting with the background hill before moving to the buildings below and then working to the right doing the green areas first followed by the buildings but it can be done the other way.

The background hill was built up with a number of overlapping layers to create the shapes of the trees.

The next part was to paint all the areas of green (trees, bushes grass etc) around the buildings along with the sections of wall (mainly to the right hand side). A number of different layers to create the form (light to dark) using a variety of colours (mixing from within the blue and yellow colours) created each section. Some softening of edges was done with clear water.

All the buildings in this section were painted using the same method. An additional shadow wash painted first (if needed) - done first retains the sharpness of the additional detail. Next light toned colours, cream walls, light windows etc, are painted before moving onto the mid toned colours, darker walls to create the form of the buildings, shadows from the trees, windows, roof sections in the sunlight before finally the darks, deep shadows, guttering etc.

Stage Three:
This stage involved painting the line of buildings and harbour wall.

The buildings were painted in the same manner as those higher up the hill - light toned colours followed by mid and finally the darks. A shadow wash was applied to areas that required it.

The wall was painted almost the other way round. This was to create the soft feel required. The dark shadows of the posts were painted first followed by the mid toned colours of the wall leaving the boats or lighter/highlighted parts unpainted. A final shadow wash, darker than normal using a variety of colours was then washed over the whole wall section.

Finally some of the small craft alongside the wall were painted, reverting to the light to dark method.

Stage Four:
To complete the painting the foreground of wet shiny mud and glistening water along with some boats needed painting.

The area of mud was completed first, using light washes to build up the form. Darker sections of water reflecting the background were then added. A clear wash softened the whole area that had just been painted.

As mentioned in the previous post (see Stage One) the highlights on the water were masked using masking Fluid. This allowed the freedom to paint the small ripples/waves on the water. A number (five or six in places) of overlapping colours/tones created the water texture. Some sections reflecting the sky, others the background hill or boats. After removing the masking fluid, the whole area of water was then give a wash using clear water to soften the edges (this does have it's risks).

The final elements to be painted were the foreground boats. Being closer more detail was added but the method was the same as the other boats and all the buildings.

"Sunlit Looe", Looe, Cornwall.
Watercolour. Alistair Butt © 2008.

Watercolour Step-byStep Demonstration... Boats in Mevagissey Harbour, Cornwall

Stage One:
Having lightly drawn the image on a piece of stretched Watercolour paper a wash was applied for the sky... the warm cream colour lower down with just a hint of blue further up.

Stage Two:
This involved painting the background, in this case, what is actually the inner harbour wall. Initial light washes were applied, before the middle tones using a variety of colours for the different elements before the darks of the shadows and dark elements were painted. A shadow wash was then applied leaving the 'light' areas unpainted. The shadow wash was also applied to the middle and foreground boats leaving the highlights unpainted.

Stage Three:
The middle distant boats were painted next. The choice is either to paint all the areas that are all the same colour or paint each boat separately. In this case the later was chosen and started on the left and worked across. Again starting each boat with the light toned colours before moving to the middle and darks. When completed most of the above two stages was given a clear wash just to soften the whole feel - great care is needed when doing this as some of the underlying colours can run quite easily.

Stage Four:
The painting of the water and reflections was completed next as it gave more freedom with the washes when painting the water. The water was built up using a number of washes before starting on the boat reflections. These were built up using a number of layers to gain the deep colours. To finish this stage, the buoys were painted.

Stage Five:
The last parts to be painted were the foreground boats. Like those in the middle distance each was painted individually starting on the left and working towards the right. The usual technique for each boats, although always working from light to dark, is to work from the top down - cabin/mast etc first, before doing any internal elements then finally doing the outside of the hull/fenders/numbers etc.

"Afloat in the Harbour", Mevagissey, Cornwall.
Watercolour. Alistair Butt © 2008.

Painting demonstration - geese in farmyard

Stage One:
Below is the under painting. Done quickly in the background to just give enough idea of some farm outbuildings and also on the foreground below the geese. More care was taken when painting the three birds.

Stage Two:
Apart from highlighting the posts and a few other marks, no further work was done on the background farm buildings.

This was followed by the mid and then the light toned colours of the straw on the ground below the geese, some patches of green grass was added before the final highlighted straw was added.

Before starting on the geese, their shadows were painted. Then each bird was painted. Starting on the left with mid and light shadow colours, along with reflected colour (from straw and sky) where needed. The final pure white of the bird was then painted, again where required, leaving some of the 'almost' white under painting to blend into the shadow areas. The same technique was used for the right hand bird and the white/shadow areas of the centre one. The central bird had some grey patches which were painted next, working from dark to light to create the shape/form of the head and feathers on the back/side of the bird.

Finally, the painting of the bills, eyes and legs completed the painting.

"The Farmyard Lookouts", Derbyshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2008.

Trees, gate and path - Lea Bridge, Derbyshire

"Looking out of the Wood", near Lea Bridge, Derbyshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2008.

I came across this view while out looking for blue bells - there was a lot of blue bells around, but in the woods that can be seen behind the gate. I wanted to capture the contrast between light, (the sun light on the grass path behind the gate) and the deep dark shadows (seen around the tree as well as the cast shadows in the foreground).

Having completed the under painting, as usual, this was done quite quickly.

The completed painting was then done in one session. This started with the dark tree branches followed by the larger areas of foliage and painting in the sky then followed by the fine leaves which is not ideal. The main tree truck followed, mainly painting in the light mid tone colours and some darks areas as the under painting was the correct colours for the dark mid tones.

The distant hills and trees followed, blending in places but mostly placing the lighter elements on the under painting.

Next to be completed were the stones walls, again painting the mid tones over the under painting before adding some highlights for example on the right hand wall.

This was followed by painting the sunlit grass path behind the gate before painting the ferns, bracken, blue bells etc on the left hand side. Most were painted over the under painting - this being a loose patchwork of colours to represent the background over which the grass, flowers etc are painted. The same technique was used for the right hand side once the path was painted.

The path was painted with the shadow mid tone colours painted first before working towards the light toned colours. Some stones etc were added to complete the painting.

Painting - shop window with reflections, Covent Garden, London

"Outside, Inside - Inside, Outside", Covent Garden, London.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2008.

Painting Demonstration - Covent Garden, London

For this oil painting, I wanted to try or experiment with a different painting technique to my usual mix.

This subject is looking out from inside Covent Garden (London) past some of the craft stalls in what was the old Apple Market to St Paul's Church (the building with the pillars). Covent Garden has always attracted me and lots of paintings have come from this small area of London. The contrast between building/shops and the movement of the people, sometimes to many people, add to that the light that fills the space or as in this painting some light from both inside (glass roof) and out. It was the sun light, both on the stone pavement and around the outer edges of the people walking around the market stalls, that first caught my attention.

Stage One:
Change number one: Instead of the usual flat wash of Raw sienna or Ultramarine Blue a loose background wash following the basic forms using a variety of colours was applied to a white canvas board. It was very quickly applied with turps mixed into the oil paint.

Stage Two:
No change from normal here. This stage was the drawing up the main shapes/markers points with a thin mix of Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue. Some lifting out (returning to an almost white board), using a rag dipped in turps.

Stage Three:
Change number two: Rather than apply the usual loose under painting, the method here was to do a sort of 'mid' finish, somewhere between the loose under painting and the detailed finish. The picture below shows this stage at about mid way through, with the background buildings and the right hand side figures painted. All the background buildings/trees and figures were painted wet against wet or wet into wet but in a controlled manor working from dark to light. Both these areas will have some finer details (stone detailing, lettering for signs etc) applied later.

Stage three completed:
The picture below shows the completed stage from above. A little more involved due to the different shapes/colours on each of the market stalls. Again painting the darker areas/elements first, followed by the mid tones and finally the light areas/elements. The main shapes of the shadows and highlights on the stone floor were also painted.

Stage four:
The background buildings had just dried enough (touch dry) for some dry brushing to create the slight haze.

Starting with the background, the final details were then added... e.g. the stone work on the church pillars, adding more detail in the trees. Then move down and right to the smaller background buildings, before moving to the buildings etc on the right hand side above the figures, here again adding stone work, other small highlights, plus some shop sign lettering and details like the lamp hanging from the wall.

Next came the figures, with only minor additions made, highlights to edges and small details like labels and hair colour adjustments.

Moving on to the pavement the lines of the stones were placed first, followed by some mid and light tones to help create the form of each stone. The edges of the lines were softened slightly so they didn't stand out to much.

The painting now needs a few days to dry before a 'shadow' wash, using retouching varnish and paint, can be applied to the area of the market stalls (avoiding the highlights), along with some shadows and the buildings on the right. This wash will darken the foreground, adding impact to the painting, but will also visually push the lighter background backwards.

Stage Five:
The 'shadow' washes have been applied to the areas mentioned above but also to some areas of the shadows coming from the figures. The difference can be seen when the pictures from previous stage and this one are compared.

"Looking out of Covent Garden", Covent Garden, London.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2008.

Boats and Harbour - Mousehole, Cornwall

"Sunny Day", Mousehole, Cornwall.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2008.
I hoped to capture the stunning bright light as it bounced from almost every top surface of this view along the harbour of Mousehole. The tide had just gone out leaving the boats at wonderful angles, with wet glistening sand and seaweed covering some areas around them. In the background are some of the sturdy stone cottages that line the harbour while on the left is one side of the harbour wall which has some rather large lumps of stone built into it.
Mousehole is a stunning West Cornwall village, with it's harbour which spreads out in a fan shape in front of the village buildings. Ideal for artists with many little alleyway's to explore, some overlooking the harbour while others are in the village, there are number of galleries in the Mousehole, plus a range of other shops. Not far away are Newlyn and Penzance, again well connected with art and galleries.

For more info:
Cornwall-online - info about Mousehole
West Country Views - some pictures of Mousehole
Urban75 - 360 degree panorama of the harbour - taken from the steps just below the cottages - the white yacht is in the painting (at the back of the boats towards the left) but being winter not many other craft in the harbour.

At Christmas the Mousehole Christmas Lights are well worth seeing with both the village and harbour lit up with some wonderful 'light' creations.

Lookaroundcornwall - see panorama at top of page.
Mouseholelights - still showing last years dates but worth noting for next year.

Cleaning Oil Painting Brushes after a days work...

Unlike my watercolours where I use only a few brushes (Winsor and Newton Series 7, no's: 3 & 6, a mop or flat, rigger and fan), for oil painting I have a wide selection but mainly from three ranges.

A selection of both size and shapes (long flat, round and filbert) from Pro Arte's Series 201 which have a wonderful soft feel when painting, something that's not to every one taste.

A number of Pro Arte's Series 103 Riggers.

Again a selection of size and shapes (long & short flats plus filbert) from Rosemary & Co's Chunking Bristle Series 2015, 2035, 2045. Slightly stiffer than the Pro Arte but again superb to work with.

Update: Rosemary has brought out some new ranges since this post which I now also use...

I should make it clear I'm not connected to the above companies other than I use their products.

I prefer to have a two or three of the same size so that when working one will be for the light colours/tones, another for mid colours/tone and one for dark colours/tone.

A single brush in a range of sizes and/or shapes would be more that enough when starting out in oil painting, the above selection has come through trial and experiment over a number of years. A lot is also down to your own style and feel so go out and try some... Art festivals e.g. Patchings Art and Craft Festival (5-8th June 2008) are a wonderful place to try out the products and to ask all the questions of the maker.

Cleaning Oil Painting Brushes:
Having completed the day's painting the brushes are first washed in turps or other paint thinners are available e.g. Zest It which smell better (but costs more) to get rid of most of the oil paint - a one/two litre container with screw cap is ideal. I've found that Turps etc, never gets rid of all the oil paint near the ferrel, so I then clean the brush in soap (an ordinary bar of soap). By rubbing the brush head on the soap to create a lather then working that in the palm of your hand, like you were painting, the soap forces the oil paint out from around the ferrel. The process is repeated until no paint colour is evident in the soap. Finally wash the brush in warm water (never hot) and allow to dry upright (not on hair end) ready for the next day.

Sea, Waves and Beach - Saltwick Bay, North Yorkshire

"Streams on the Beach", Saltwick Bay, North Yorkshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2008.

An 'almost finished' oil painting of the superb Saltwick Bay on the North Yorkshire coast just below Whitby. Remaining to be done, when the under paint is tough dry, is some glazing for a soft haze (sea spray) over the lower background cliffs, plus some small work (detailing) of areas like the main wave and sand (small stones etc).

It was just one of those days when the light, tide etc all combined to produce a wonderful subject... a falling tide provided some wonderful refection's on the beach and thanks to the flat shelve of rock in the bay the waves were much smaller than those just north at Whitby.

As I've mentioned in a previous post about this location, this is by no means an easy one to get to due to the steep cliff, and best avoided after any period of rain as the path down becomes very slippery but the location is also a favourite amongst photographers as it's one of the east coast beaches that you can see both the sunrise and sunset (for two weeks either side mid summer) plus fossil hunters but the flat rocks beyond the beach are again very slippery and the cliffs very unstable as I witnessed.

At the beginning of the post I stated that the painting was 'almost' finished... having not looked at it for a number of days more haze was added to lower areas of cliffs , reworked some of the wave form (highlights and mid tones) and adding some gulls. It doesn't really show up well on the image but next the whole beach area was lightened slightly, some further work on the small streams/water (highlights, mid tones) with finally some additional work, though not a lot, on the two main rocks (more modeling of form) completed the painting.

Dancer performing on Embankment, London

"Watching the Dancer", London.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2008.

I liked the ring of people as they stood watching this young ladies performance on the Embankment in London and the contrast between the busy detailed areas and the open space around the dancer. The bright light from both the afternoon sun and that reflecting off the River Thames (in the background) added to the appeal by adding all the wonderful shadows and contrast.

The painting was produced in a similar manor to that shown in other post on this blog. Though this painting was somewhat less complicated to produce as most of the tones and colours where similar in the more detailed areas requiring less mixing time.

Starting with the background the dark and mid tones (of various colours) of all the figures, railings, barge etc was painted. Moving down, the shadows from the above figures was painted next, before going back and painting in all the highlights - reflected light on the river and on the pavement between the figures and the highlights on those figures requiring it (mainly around the heads). A lot of the above figure painting was done by painting the negative shape (painting the outside of something to create the inner shape).

Painting the dancer and the remaining figures followed the same technique as above, before completing the painting with the foreground shadows and the main highlight.

Painting Demonstration - painting sea, waves and cliffs - Whitby, North Yorkshire Coast

Having watched these big waves crashing onto the North Yorkshire Coast at Whitby for a while I noticed that some of them created a nice zigzag line into the painting combined with a bright but wonderful hazy morning light and some spindrift from the strong wind. The position was a bit on the hazardous side due to the odd wave coming over the breakwater so one eye needed to be kept of what size of wave was coming in next... exciting if nothing else.

Stage One:
While the pictures/stages are broken down into four, this oil painting was completed in one sitting.
The under painting was completed first with oil paint mixed with turps just to establish the main elements...

Stage Two:
The background cliffs were painted next, starting with the lightest and working forward. The very distant lump is Saltwick Nab before the land leads around the corner into Saltwick Bay and the famous Black Nab. The cliffs had lighter colours/colors painted on them to represent the haze/sea spray/smoky feel in the air. Some indication of distant water was painted to establish the correct tonal difference between the sea and land.

Stage Three:
This shows the top half of the sea, almost completed. Working from dark to light i.e. painting in all the darker (in relation to its surroundings - all things being equal, a dark in the foreground is not the same tone as a dark in the background) areas of the waves, followed by a mixture of various mid toned colours/colors to establish the form of the waves and finally the highlights and spindrift were painted.
All this was done wet into wet which gives a nice fluid feel to the water as some blending takes place as the layers (dark, mid, light) are applied.

Stage Four:
This stage basically follows the same as the previous stage, but being closer, slightly more detail is required. The wave form was more disturbed here as the breakwater, being at an angle to them, was reflecting the previous wave back into the path of the next.
Some more spindrift (dry brushing) may be applied after the painting is dry.

"Along the Crest", Whitby, North Yorkshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2008.

Painting demonstration - figures, urban, light and shadows - South Bank, London

This view along South Bank towards Big Ben (on the opposite side of the River Thames) attracted my attention due to a couple of things. Firstly the intense light, in places ring lighting some of the figures or parts of them and the interesting mixing of shadows cast by them. Secondly, by chance some children holding some balloons arrived and stood watching one of the buskers that line the South Bank over the weekend.

Stage One:
The picture below shows the quick establishment of the main elements using oil paint mixed with turps while trying to place the main darks ready for over painting. This was painted over a previously prepared board using a light blue/grey wash (seen in the sky and foreground).

 Stage Two:
The background... starting with the area of trees, using a mixture of greens and browns in various tones to establish both form and texture. The buildings that line the far bank of the River Thames were painted next, painting around the tree leaves/trunks etc where required. The buildings were painted slightly darker than required as the plan was to 'dry brush' the bright hazy light on later. Next to be completed was the wonderfully ornate lamp stands that line the South Bank. The final section was the sky (again slightly darker) painted around the buildings, lamps and tree with small areas cut into it.

Stage Three:
The people... the first decision to be made was...
A - paint all of the people as whole group i.e paint all skin areas, all brown cloths, all blue cloths, etc or
B - paint them individually
in the end a sort of mixture of the above two resulted with small groups being completed at a time with the larger figures done indivually - working more or less from left to right. This was the most time consuming stage, the result of the time taken to mix all the different colours/colors. Within each group/figure the painting of the darks (if required on top of the under painting) comes first, followed by the mid tone colours/colors, next the light tones (not that many) before adding the bright highlights.

Stage Four:
The foreground... the area that inspired this painting, the mixture of tones and colours/colors of the shadows cast by the figures against the bright sunlit pavement. All the shadows were painted first using a mixture of colours/colors and tones before the sunlit areas were painted. Some edges required blending/softening while other sections were left sharper. The sky and distant buildings received their dry brushing with an 'off' white colour/color to tone them down and create a hazy feel to the background building/sky. Finally some lines to indicate the slabs on the pavement were painted.

"Strolling Along", South Bank, London.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2008.