Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sharm El Sheikh plein air

During our stay in Sharm El Sheikh, on the cruise trip, I stayed on board. Not having an escort trip lined up, feeling too unsure about going ashore on my own and forgetting to get a form done to enable me to take my camcorder with me, were my excuses. However all was not lost, as with the ship quite quiet of passengers, I was able to sit undisturbed on the top deck and paint the view across the bay.
On the one hand I felt 'guilty' for not going ashore and seeing Sharm again (was there in 2003 on MV Aurora), yet on the other........ I thoroughly enjoyed being able to sit in the sun (despite the fairly cool breeze across the aft end where I was sat) and soak in the atmosphere of being on the ship in far away place and 'get lost' in sploshing some paint on paper.

The painting took bout 2 ½ hours, which for a plein air is quite long enough, almost too long, as the light changes constantly during this time; 2 hours is usually the target, any longer and it can get confusing with the way the light has changed the scene. As it was, I sat and observed the scene for a while, as clouds were moving over the sun on a regular basis, bringing successive shadows on the crags and peaks of the ranges; so I had to decide which phase of lighting I wanted to paint.

The painting was done with gouache on a not watercolour paper and is just about 10" x 4" (26 x 10cms) in size. 2½ hrs is a long time for such a small piece - apart from the fact that I was revelling in being able to switch off from everything and just concentrate on the scene and paint, it took so long because of the waiting for the chosen lighting conditions.
When I paint I'm not trying to copy exactly what's before me... I'm looking to simplify the details and use my brush strokes to create the effects by moving them across the paper in the direction of strata, crags and shadows etc.

I mixed a warm pale mauvey-blue for the sky which I then used as the base for the colours of the mountains. Painting from the horizon forward I added more browns to the colour mix on each step forward in the landscape, taking the mountains through from very pale distant ranges to darker, warmer and closer. However, even my darkest touches are still only a mid-reddish brown and very minimal in use. No black. For the shadowy areas I used a more bluey-mauve colour... nothing too heavy in contrast, application or weight of colour. A touch of that bluey-mauve was blended into the sea to add the cast of colour to tie the scene together.

In this close-up you can see the simplicity of the brush strokes - dabs and splodges... no attempt to get finnicky with details. Observe the general feel of the scene, break it down into simple forms and use the brush to create an impression of it.

This landscape was a great example of recession and I used it in my class on ship when we started on the painting sessions.

No comments: