"Wild water at Baring Head, South Wellington Coast line."
We had been staying with friends in a cottage on the Baring Head coastline for several days. Although the weather had been reasonable with plenty of sunshine, it had been extremely windy and so the idea of painting on the beach was out of the question.
However, on the 4th day, the wind finally dropped and Peter, (my painting companion) and I, carried our equipment down to the beach where there were several groups of rugged rocks that looked like possible subjects.
Of course, the sea was very rough after all the wind, and so although it was now relatively calm, the sea was still a churning mess – exactly as I prefer to paint it. There's'something very special about rough water, the power of the waves, the beautiful colour of the water, and the gleam of white surf. In the right situation with a sandy beach, there is also that beautiful reflection area as the sea recedes between waves.
And then of course, there's the rocks themselves. In low evening light, the colour, and the contrast between the highlights and the shadows is simply mouthwatering!
There's something very stimulating about painting in the outdoors. I painted in the studio for the first 10 years of my painting life. I worked from sketches I did on the spot, as, at the time, I could not afford the cost of photographs! When I look back, I believe it was a better way for me to work as I was not tempted to rely on photographs as 'crutches'. It is so easy I believe, to become ensnared by photographs – to become a copier rather than a creative painter. Don't get me wrong though. I also believe that there are many great painters that work creatively from photographs.
"Creatively" is the keyword! With the advantages of digital cameras now, I also work very occasionally from a photograph. But I certainly prefer to work outdoors nevertheless.
Putting all that aside, that evening on the beach was incredibly stimulating. (I hope the painting demonstrates what I'm writing about).The urgency of the lowering evening light, the tide moving in, and the energy of the scene itself was enough to get the juices going! We worked feverishly and finished just on dusk.
There is a huge sense of satisfaction arriving home with a finished painting in the back of the car. Especially of course, if you feel that it is a good one! Mind you, there's also the depression of a wash off before the painting was even finished. Or worse, you finished it - but it's still no good!
That can happen too often, but the "highs" make it worth it.
I'm very grateful to the painter friend who persuaded me to try going plein air!