Oil painting of fishing boats at Staithes, North Yorkshire

Detail from "Boat repairs at Staithes", Staithes, North Yorkshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021343

This oil painting is from the harbour wall looking back to part of the fishing village of Staithes which is located on the North Yorkshire coast to the north of Whitby. A popular location for both artists (The Staithes Group and The Fylingdales Group - information about both groups can be found on the link) and photographers.

On this day it was the light on the water that caught my eye, with the line of fishing boats (one having some repairs done) coming next and those backed by part of the village and cliffs (that enclose the harbour) which were in shadow plus had a little hazy/smoke.

Materials used: Winsor & Newton paint, mediums and gesso for the board, Zest It (brush cleaner and paint thinner), Rosemary and Co brushes of different sizes and series - see my website for more details.

Mall Galleries - Tours of Behind the Scenes plus more calls for entries to open exhibitions

See 'Behind the Scenes' at 17 Carlton House Terrace (Mall Galleries)

Construction work is underway on the transformation of our Grade-1 listed vaults into a new Learning Centre. If you're curious to see what progress we're making and would enjoy taking a 'Behind the Scenes' tour of parts of the building not normally open to the public, why not sign-up to one of the following free talks?

Join us for a talk exploring the rich heritage of Carlton House Terrace and The Mall.
Saturday 29 June 2pm
Saturday 20 July 2pm
Saturday 27 July 2pm

Just email: education (at) mallgalleries (dot) com with the subject as 'Behind the scenes' or call 020 7930 6844 to reserve your free place.


Call for entries to the following open exhibitions

The Threadneedle Prize
Deadline 4 July, 12 noon

Royal Society of Marine Artists
Deadline 25 July, 12 noon

Society of Wildlife Artists
Deadline 15 August, 12 noon

New English Art Club
Deadline 12 September

Summer Workshops at the Mall Galleries

Full details can be found here. Some have already sold out so if your are interested please book as soon as possible.

Oil Painting - Black Nab, Saltwick Bay, North Yorkshire Coast

Saltwick Bay and Black Nab (the lump of rock just off shore) is very well known for photographers - may be even more photographs taken of this bay than Whitby which is around the headland (to the left of the image below). A lot of the photos show a wreck of a fishing boat but very little now remains. Walking around the area (only at low tide - being aware of tide times) is interesting but at the same time the flat shelf of rock that appears at low tide although covered in places by large fallen rocks is very slippery.

For more information (rather than repeating it) can be found here or do a search for Saltwick Bay - Black Nab. Parking is very limited at this location or walk from the car parks at Whitby.

Like most of the North Yorkshire coast to get to sea level a walk down the cliffs is required - above is a picture showing the view on the path down - not best when wet.

Detail from "Exposed at low tide", Black Nab, Saltwick Bay, North Yorkshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021342

Above is an oil painting of some of the weathered rocks exposed as the tide went out - most of the sea seen in this painting would go up to low tide exposing more rock. The sand in this area can be quite dark at times depending on how much coal (from mining) is on the surface.

A visit to Froggatt Edge, Derbyshire

The weather changed so this turned into a shorter than planned visit to a well know area for me - Froggatt Edge, in the Derbyshire Peak District. I had about 5 minutes of sun before it clouded over, on what up until then, had been a cloudless day. The above pictures are from the footpath that goes along the edge - some areas are more wooded while others are more rocky but I didn't go that far - just mad it back to the car before it started to rain.

I've done many paintings of the area, mostly in autumn to spring as the views through the trees are better.

New neighbours... family of Great Tits

Some new neighbours outside the studio - a family of Great Tits. The baby chick (top pic) sat in the apple tree, every now and then crying to it's parents for the next feed. Other babies were around so it had to wait it's turn...

Oil painting - Nesting birds on Staple Island, Farne Islands, Northumberland

Just finished what may be the first of a few oil paintings from the latest visit to Northumberland - this one shows some of the nesting birds on Staple Island (one of the two that people are allowed to land on).

As mentioned in the posts relating to the trip there was some sea fog but by chance it cleared for the period while on Staple Island but as can be seen in the painting it's just in the distance (upper left). I really enjoyed this painting, not as much as the visit though, although the mass of rock took longer to paint than expected.

While working at this location one of the Shags kept getting up off it's nest and then having a walk around but while doing was stealing nesting material for other birds nests...

Detail from "Sea fog clears over nesting birds on Staple Island", Staple Island, Farne Islands, Northumberland.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021341

Step-by-step oil painting demonstration of boats in a harbour - St Ives, Cornwall

As the tide went out on what was a perfect sunny morning, the dinghies and fishing boats are left on the sandy bed of St Ives harbour. I really liked the ribbons of water in the sand combined with the collection of boats with the backdrop of the harbour wall and buildings.

Part one:
This is really stage three as the top left buildings have had their details applied over the underlying base. The rest of the painting shows the complete base layer, see previous posts on oil painting where this is shown in more detail but is lines drawn (oil paint which is thinned with turps and allowed to dry) before the base colours are applied.

The usual method is dark bits painted first working towards the light, this doesn't always happen as sometimes it's easier to paint the dark over the light - I usually paint using thin layers so the think over thin rule doesn't matter. The windows and dark side of the buildings were painted first before working on the areas of the roof - in this case also covered in lichen which gives the orange effect plus the warm light of the morning. The white walls, mostly in shade at this time, were painted next plus adding all the small details on the windows (frames etc), drain pipes...

Part Two:
Detail has been applied to the harbour wall, being in shadow it provides a nice contrast to the rest of the painting which was in the morning sunlight.

The painting of the building on the harbour wall followed the method above. The wall was getting some reflected light but it's best feature and common to many of the Cornish harbours are the great lumps of local stone used to build them.

Part Three:
A really interesting stage of the painting - painting the sand and small streams of water in the harbour as the tide went out.

This whole area was worked wet into wet over the dry base layer with the only real sharp edges bits being the ropes and chains. Working from the background (below the building) towards the foreground, in this case in horizontal bands as this allowed for the small but vital details (ropes, chains and the pools of water or wet sand) to be added. If there could be a tricky area it's when small pools of water have reflections, as seen to the left of the foreground boat, but then it's paint what you see as that's how it is...

Detail from "Early at St Ives", St Ives, Cornwall.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021340

Part Four:
The last remaining elements to paint were the boats. Being of different colours they were painted one at a time, working from left to right, distant boats to foreground ones. As before working dark to light mainly, although if any part is going to have dark section within light it's going to be now - dark ropes, masts etc.

Northumberland trip - part two

This day started with a band of sea fog, the fog horn on the harbour wall of Seahouses was sounding as the boats prepared for the trips to the Farne Islands which are just off the Northumberland coast - about a 20 minute trip if going to the closest. A number of companies run boat trips to the islands, either just sailing around the islands, landing on either Staple Island or Inner Farne Island or some do other longer trips to Holy Island or sunset trips. A search for 'Farne Island trips' will bring up a list of sailing companies (during busy periods worth booking) and worth reading up before hand from the likes of tripadvisor...

Apart from the wildlife on or around the islands (birds, seals, dolphins etc), they also have another attraction in that of Grace Darling - for those that don't know she was the daughter on an English lighthouse (Longstone Lighthouse) keeper, who has become famed for participating in the rescue of survivors from the shipwrecked Forfarshire in 1838 - more information can be found out about her here. Some of the tour boats take the same route as she took on the rescue.

The Farne Islands are run by the National Trust as a nature reserve and at this time of the year it has thousands of nesting birds. An interesting blog by the National Trust rangers working on the islands can be found here and give an insight of their work and the birds that visit the islands.

Some of the Puffins on Staple Island - thankfully for a while the fog broke only to return later.

Every good space taken with nesting birds - a truly wonderful sight as was the trip around the island bar the fog. Good reason to have a return visit...

The boys with long lens waiting for the Puffins to stick a head or two out the their hole...

Another blanket foggy start. This time on Holy Island on what was 'meant' to be a nice sun rise... Lindisfarne Castle is behind the boats just blending into the fog well...

Like the Farne Islands, the National trust looks after Lindisfarne Castle. Other information about the Holy Island of Lindisfarne can be found here or do a search by whichever method you choice.

The return trip, having left the island as the causeway floods, late afternoon now in the sun, shows the castle. The distant cloud is the bank of fog that had move off shore.

Call for Entries: Open exhibitions at the Mall Galleries

Submit now to the New English Art Club Annual Exhibition.

The New English Art Club (NEAC) are seeking submissions of paintings, drawings, pastels and original prints from artists who have a concern for the concept, allied to craft. The NEAC believe this is integral to artists's pathway and career.

The New English Art Club is a group of about 70 professional painters whose work is based principally upon direct observation of nature and the human figure. Its Annual Exhibition is a showcase for its members and gives aspiring artists an opportunity to be seen alongside some of the best figurative artists painting today.

Find out more about them at: www.newenglishartclub.co.uk

Submit your work online  before 12 noon on 12 September

Maximum of six works to be submitted. Maximum of five works will be selected. Work must have been completed within the last two years.

Submission fee: £12 per work (£10 per work for artists under 35)


Other open calls:

The Threadneedle Prize
Deadline 4 July, 12 noon

Royal Society of Marine Artists
Deadline 25 July, 12 noon

Society of Wildlife Artists
Deadline 15 August, 12 noon


Artist & Illustrators 'Artists of the Year 2013' - Enter Today

Send Artists & Illustrators your latest masterpieces for the chance to exhibit with us, at the prestigious Mall Galleries and stage your own solo exhibition!

Find out more here

Oil painting looking towards Buttermere from Honister Pass

Detail from "Heading towards Buttermere", nr Gatesgarth, Honister Pass, Cumbria.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021339

A great view from about half way down Honister Pass (behind) looking towards Gatesgarth - far distance in the valley - with the background mountains that line the far side of Buttermere, these being (l-r) High Crag, High Stile and Red Pike. The better know Haystacks is to the left behind Fleetwith Pike of which the lower flanks are shown.

The sparkling beck as it headed down the valley caught my eye, with the foxgloves adding to the appeal.

Patchings Festival for art, craft and design - 6th to 9th June 2013

A visit to the Patchings Art, Craft and Design Festival today.

Held near Nottingham it has artists and crafts people doing demonstrations over the four days of which today was the first.

For more information about this festival it's better that you visit the Patchings site rather than me repeat the infomation. The festival page is here which has full details plus down the right hand side are links to sections within the areas which has all the artists/crafts/materials listed...

A selection of the 'new' brushes purchased from Rosemary and Co - Pure Kolinsky Sable Riggers (left) in different sizes, a number of different size and shapes in the Ivory Range and some Masters Choice on the right hand side. As I like to have a colour mix on each brush, saves time cleaning between colours, this results in more brushes being used and is not a requirement by any means - just the method I use...

Part of the Festival - all those demonstrating are in the marquees but due to no photography (copyright) I took no pictures within the marquees but by going through the lists on the Patchings Festival page you will get links and/or samples of each artists work.

Latest trip... Northumberland coast - part one

Spent a few days up in Northumberland, hence no recent posts. For those not living in the UK, Northumberland (one of the counties of England) is on the east side of the UK and stretches from just above Newcastle up to Berwick-on-Tweed and therefore the Scottish Border. Away from the stunning coastline the county gets more hilly with the Cheviot Hills. Apart from the stunning landscapes there's lots of other tourist related things to see and do - Hadian's Wall being the best know, Holy Island of Lindisfarne, Bamburgh Castle - once home to the Kings of Northumbia - (pictures below), Cragside House etc.....

 Above and below are pictures of Bamburgh Castle - one day playing with the sea mist which added something to the view while below on another day

Above is the tidal estuary on the land side of the coastal village of Alnmouth - needless to say I soon found my way onto the sand and mud and heading for the boats and the evening sunlight...

More from this trip in a later post...