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.