I’d prepared the layout sketch for this painting back in September, but since then the canvas has been sitting on my easel awaiting my studied presence. Two days before Christmas I decided to just get on with it. Once again, using Mr. Turner as my inspiration I imagined how he might instruct me to proceed and did just that. What do you think?

 

Oil on canvas, 16×20 in.

This is the second in my South Downs Way series based on photographs I took during my hike along its 100 miles from Eastbourne to the grand old city of Winchester in the UK, back in 2009.

You might remember I did a digitally painted version of this some time ago and really liked the Turneresque luminosity that I managed to achieve. Despite my colour palette deviating somewhat from that particular version, I did also like its impressionistic quality, so I tried to capture some of that in my oil version.

I was trying to be as faithful to the original photo as possible in terms of compositional structure, while at the same time trying to capture a sense of my memory of standing on the chalk cliffs looking at the lighthouse emerging from the thick morning fog. Photos never do my own eyes justice. I see much more blue light than the average soul or indeed the average camera, so to me the scene wasn’t anywhere as dingy as the resultant photograph, but closer to my painting, with some added artistic license of course. Click on the gallery below to see how my painting progressed from start to finish.

I often begin with an acrylic base when preparing a canvas for oils. A thin wash of white acrylic also helps to seal the layout sketch and stop it smearing when applying the oil paints, although here I think I just painted a rough outline in burnt umber and blocked in the lighthouse so that it would be visible beneath the paint. Then I painted a thin oil wash over the whole canvas capturing the basic tonal values that I wanted, and let it dry overnight a little so that the subsequent layer of paint would sit atop that layer instead of blending fully with it. It also created a really lovely turquoise coloured ground that can be seen peaking through some of the foreground.

I completed this on Christmas Eve, and I think it’s ‘finished’. A wise artist once said that a painting is never finished, merely abandoned. So, I’ll let this rest, for now, at least until it’s had a chance to dry. If I do any further work on it, it will be to enhance the fog and perhaps tone down the vividness of the lighthouse, although I am happy with the sense of luminosity that I remember as the sun made its appearance that morning.

I hope you’ve all been enjoying the seasonal break and wish you all a very fine start to a new year and a new decade!

Thanks for reading.

M.

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