View from Zennor Head, Zennor, Cornwall

Detail from "View from Zennor Head", Nr Zennor, Cornwall.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2009.

Zennor headland is a short walk from the attractive village of Zennor, situated on the north Cornwall coast between St Ives and Lands End.

My intention was to do some reference sketches for a painting showing a view from the headland but the sea in the foreground (there's a bay behind the rocks) was very flat and uninteresting so I started looked for other viewpoints.

Having climbed all over the rocks, seen to the left, without much joy I managed to get as far away as possible to obtain this view, not helped by the land sloping away down to the sea and the thick vegetation not allowing easy movement unless jumping from stone to stone.

In the end I was pleased with the view and wanted to capture the rugged stones against the distant headlands Carnelloe Head, then Gunnards Head (far right) and Pendeen (small section on the distant horizon).

Not really a complicated painting, with the sky and sea painted wet into wet or wet against wet followed by working from the background forwards of all the land sections always being aware of the tones and colour shifts.

On a hot June day (there was the odd one or two last year), well worth the short walk, a great place for lunch (non other that a freshly made Cornish Pasty from St Ives) and less effort than the group of people that passed by and seen over an hour later on the Carnelloe Head, having followed the coast path which drops down to sea level before climbing back to the same level.

Regents Canal, London

Detail from "View along the towpath", London.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2009.

Reference for this was gathered on a warm late September day last year. I'd walked for a number of miles along the canal before coming across this view. During the time I was there... mid to late afternoon, the sun began to sink in the sky and in doing so, provided some interesting cast shadows across the canal. The cast shadows combined with the reflections required some concentration with regards to both colour and tone shifts.

The painting was produced along the lines of those demonstrated elsewhere on this blog. A quick but considered under painting, tending towards the darker colours in an area, then, working from the background forwards, the details were added. This oil painting was produced in one sitting. This allowed the areas of the trees and likewise the water to be done wet against wet (very little wet on wet). By doing this, some blending takes places so 'slightly' softening the edges between the two mixes.

Painting... river and valley in Cumbria

"Down by the river", near Nateby, Cumbria.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2009.

Having driven all the way through North Yorkshire in thick fog it was wonderful to go (having cleared the mountains (North Yorkshire Dales) that were holding back the fog) into the bright sunlight and drop down in Cumbria.

Some of the fog trying to come over the hill tops can be seen on the left hand side but was more dramatic else where. The reason for stopping here, was really to have some breakfast... a couple of camper vans had over slept (just behind me) and this view doesn't present itself from the road but what a view to wake up too. And that was my thoughts when I wandered along the bank looking for the best view point.

My only concern was the number of stones in the river and I could have cut them in half by walking a short distance forward but thought this view offered the most interest and reflected the true nature of the river.

Breakfast, became a working breakfast and I don't even wake to campers at some very early hour in the morning.

Painting of Kingsgate Bay, Kent

"Afternoon Walk on the Beach", Kingsgate, Kent.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2009.

Not quite the White Cliffs of Dover... but not that far away.

Kingsgate Bay is one in a series of bays backed by white cliffs between Margate and Broadstairs on the Kent coast.

With the cliffs and the flat sandy beaches, as seen here with a falling tide leaving a beach full of ribbons of water... just wonderful to try and capture all the changes in colour and tone. For an area like this, I find it best to work wet into wet so that the blending is that much better.

Early morning in the North Yorkshire Dales

"Early Summer in Whafedale", Whafedale, North Yorkshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2009.

Over the years the small village of Hubberholme, Upper Whafedale in the North Yorkshire Dales, has provided a surprising number of paintings. When walking along one of the lanes that leads away from the village I was greeted by this stunning early morning view of the sun breaking through the lifting mist, the contrast between bright grass and deep shadows and finally some sheep grazing in the field. You couldn't really ask for more to start the day...

Fishing boats in the harbour, Staithes, North Yorkshire

"All lined up", Staithes, North Yorkshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2009.

A wonderful afternoon sunlight with a slight haziness helped add to the impact of this view from the harbour wall, looking past the line up of fishing boats to a small section of the North Yorkshire village of Staithes, seen surrounded by some of the steep cliffs which dominate this section of the Yorkshire coastline.

This really was one of those days when subjects to sketch and therefore paint just kept coming. Just walking up and down the length of the harbour wall presented 6 or 7 very good subjects. In the end it's a choice of A: gather as much as you can from all or B: concentrate on one or two. In the end I managed to do justice to three before the suns position plunged this section of the village into shadows, and thereby creating a different feel.

Thankfully on the day it was a relatively calm sea, it's not always that placid, along with that it was also almost high tide so there wouldn't be much movement when gathering the reference material (notes, combined with detailed sketches and some pictures).

The objective for this painting was to capture the light and atmosphere seen on the day and hopefully I'll find time to paint the other two...