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.

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