Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Into the Light, Brancaster Staithe

Last night I gave a two-hour demonstration in Pastels to Ashby Art Club, deciding to do a marine subject - Brancaster Staithe in Norfolk. Here I am posing with the painting as far I got in the allotted time (photo courtesy of David Park)

I was asked by one member of the audience if I use a paper stump when pastelling and I replied that I don't generally, although I do have a little stumpy thing......you're ahead of me aren't you.....sometimes you hear yourself say something and just know that it's too late.....

Pastel on Clairefontaine Pastelmat, 13 x 19 inches 

This is the finished painting, having done some work on it back in the studio.  Those of you who are familiar with my work will know that this is my favourite sort of challenge, painting directly into the light.  The wet mud, left by the receding tide, provided a wonderful, glistening bank to have fun with.  The larger red fishing vessel cast a lovely shadow over the mud, and pointed at the mooring post left of centre.  The bit I enjoyed most was depicting the intensely sunlit bench on the smaller blue boat on the left, which I was reliably informed on the night is called a thwart.  The damp, wooden surface positively glowed, catching the sun directly above it, and the real challenge was to give it that glow by diffusing the colours around it, almost making the eye of the viewer squint looking at it.  To complete the painting I dotted a few spots of light on the water.

The key to this sort of painting is to play very close attention to the tones.  When sunlight bounces off wet surfaces, those refections are the brightest part of the painting, so the sky must be toned down to make them appear convincing.  The sky is usually the brightest part of a painting, but when looking straight into the light, this isn't so when the sunlight catches objects on terra firma. 

I'm happy with the finished result and shall enter this into the pre-selection for the Royal Society of Marine Artists (RSMA) annual exhibition at The Mall Galleries in London, which has to be in by noon on Thursday this week.  I'm also working on two marine Oils to enter too, so I'd better stop typing and get back to the easel.


  1. Almost had to put on the sunglasses for this one. Cheered me up your e-mails always make me smile. Looking forward to veiwing your oils. Ve

    1. Thank you Ve - that's just what I wanted to hear! I'm working on my last 12x17 Oil for the RSMA - will post later if I finish it, so stand by your beds!

  2. I would love to own this painting I live in brancaster staithe are you selling it or do you have plans to get some prints made of it that I could purchese

    1. Hi Simon, the painting is entered into the RSMA exhibition in London, but if it isn't accepted, it will be for sale. Please send me your email address to peter@peterbarkerpaintings.co.uk and I'll send you details. Thanks, Peter


Please leave a comment !