Tag Archives: water


Sunday 24 May 2015

i attended an art photography workshop a few weeks back. we were asked to bring one or two paintings to take pictures of, and i took along this small painting…

sea shore waves surf surfing painting

i used daylight studio lights and reflectors to take this picture [with a camera on a tripod!], and i was also guided in some post-processing in photoshop [i have only cropped it as it came out pretty close, i think – well, i took quite a few test shots to try out some camera settings].

i selected this small painting for the workshop because there are no obvious figurative elements and the colours are quite dark and muted, and i thought this would present a good challenge from which to learn a few things.

this painting is one of my many experiments at painting a sense of the sea, and it makes me think about surfing and pictures of the inside of waves, as there is no shoreline or horizon to orientate it. it is quite disorientating [to me now] as i was trying to evoke a sense of movement and depth, emerging and submerging, crashing waves, under water, or resurfacing – all on a flat surface – and i’m not sure that it really ‘works’ – it could be anything [the allure of painterly abstraction] – but i gave it a shot anyway.

i think i was feeling quite depressed at the time of painting it.

the waves

Tuesday 1 July 2014

sea waves painting 1, on wood panel

i’ve been reading The Waves by Virginia Woolf (a vintage Penguin paperback). it’s weird how books seem to find me at certain times, they just turn up (or i happen to be more receptive to them), i never go out intentionally to buy them… by all accounts, this is one of Woolf’s most accomplished and complex works of fiction, although it’s not really a novel, but a slowly unravelling, rambling prose on the passage of life.

there are some beautiful descriptions of everyday things and clever turns of phrase, stream-of-consciousness thoughts, acute sensory experiences, all the wonder, anxiety, hope, doubt – all human feelings and responses, really… the use of language is very poetic, rhythmic and performative, and Woolf at the time referred to it as a play-poem.

sea waves painting 2, on wood panel

i am finding it quite difficult to differentiate between the characters’ ‘voices’ [or Woolf’s voices], their thoughts and interactions with others (a group of six friends as they pass through life from childhood to old age, together and apart). the punctuation and paragraph structure is quite confusing, and i lose a sense of ‘place’ and narrative continuity, to the extent that i want to mark their passages with highlighter pens. it was never going to be easy…

perhaps this is an intentional paradox or conflict in the book, that true life never runs smooth, there are always situations and events, conversations or encounters, that will change things…

see, the sea… [yet again]

Monday 26 May 2014

sea notes: striations of agitated sand[banks] beneath the sea’s surface, a thin tapering line of violet-grey marked the horizon on one side, the sky palest blue to mauve…

seascape sketchbook drawings

and then there was the shimmering expanse of a pearly viridian sea green, as sunbeams filtered by clouds moved over the flat mass of water…

i am trying to recall something of the experience of watching the sea change colours, over the course of an hour or so [quick sketches, in graphite].

seascape sketchbook drawings

it was a bright and breezy afternoon by the sea… and it rained.

with the sudden deluge of rain my sketchbook and i were all too soon drenched. the pages swelled up into the shape of a concertina, all crinkled and kinked – and i dropped it right by the sea while putting on my rain mac…

oh the irony! sea drawings united with the sea!

there was a similar downpour of rain a day or so later, further down the coast, when i took a quick detour on my way home, to see the sea, once again. i thought this diversion might help a little with some of my paintings.

i met a man with two ladders painting a fisherman’s hut. i remarked favourably on the crackled patina of the encrusted black paintwork, what a shame it was to have to paint over it. he replied that he had been given strict instructions NOT to paint over it by the owner, and was only re-painting a small side window. i thought more about the two ladders – from prior experience painters and decorators will carry at least two ladders at all times – and came to the conclusion the roof also needed fixing. i also learnt from the brief exchange that the fisherman’s hut belonged to a very well-known painter – nice studio!!

the sky soon turned very dark and i knew it would rain eventually.

i walked close to the waves, watching the tumbling coils of dark water, the creamy-coloured spume frothed and foamed – [as it does!].

sea waves drawings

the sea rippled and scurried to the shore, waves rolling in, crashing, drawing back – [as they do!].

more sea waves drawings

sea scatters, glistening shingle along the foreshore, large pebbles deeply embedded in the smooth wet sand. i want to prise some of them out, or skim a few small ones back into the sea…

sea waves drawings

these quick sketches were done while walking and just watching the waves, the drawing and mark-making imprinting a memory of sorts.

sea drawings

most of the sketchbook i have since had to tape or glue back together. it is now in a slightly wonky state, but its temporary union with the sea has given it some character.

[more thoughts] when i look at the sea i don’t always experience it as having a history or a story to tell, how others might have lived or died by it. the sea is the element, in the moment: timeless, vast, powerful, dramatic, dangerous – but also reassuring in its vitality and constancy. then there are the issues of coastal erosion, rising sea-levels, pollution, the litter and debris, sea-life… i do think about these things too.

whenever i feel on edge [stressed] i have a desire to go to the edge, the edge of the land, that is – as if it will help to disperse the issues on my mind because they are quite literally behind me.

a trip to see the sea is seen as invigorating, good for the constitution. stormy changeable weather discourages the tourists. a walk to the end of a pier at on a blustery day and it can feel as if you are on a big ship, sailing the high seas…

twenty sketchbook sea waves drawings

[perhaps i should have taken some photographs instead]

The real sea is cold and black, full of animals; it crawls under this thin green film made to deceive people. The sylphs all round me have been taken in: they see nothing but the thin film, that is what proves the existence of God. I see underneath!

[Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre]