A bigger, better (?) Barmouth Beach

A few weeks ago I did a painting of Barmouth beach. In the accompanying post The beginning of something big? – I explained that it was my first effort after a few weeks’ holiday and that I’d enjoyed painting it. This original version was done on a quarter imperial sheet of Saunders Waterford and, since completing it, I’ve been mulling over whether this would work at a half imperial size: would the washes have even more room to ‘breath’, or is there insufficient detail and interest to really hold the eye. I was also a little reticent about painting this scene again as I so liked this first attempt.

Barmouth Beach
Barmouth Beach

I’d already taken quite a few liberties with the original reference image but felt quite happy that the outcome justified the means.

Barmouth Beach reference photo

There were however aspects of this that I felt I could improve on, some of the modelling of the background hills for instance (and trying to avoid any cauliflowering from applying a wet wash onto already damp paper) and the buildings on the far left of the image.

I deliberated about using the original painting as a reference source whilst painting the bigger version but decided against it. I thought it may influence me too much when what I really wanted was a ‘new’ painting – one where I wasn’t trying to colour match to a previous painting.

Again, I really enjoyed tackling this subject. I think I liked the balance between the large expanses of washes where you can be pretty free and loose versus some areas of detail where a little more control and discipline is required.

A bigger, better Barmouth Beach painting

I adjusted the composition slightly so that I could do a better job of indicating the buildings on the left, and I kept the colours on the beach a little more muted. I also tried to me mindful about ensuring that brushstrokes and passages of colour all helped to lead the eye towards the focal point of the main building. I was pleased that my concerns over whether the image could take being enlarged were unfounded. I know it’s hard to tell from these images when they’re shown at the same size side by side, but I do think that the image on the right works better and does manage to sustain interest (well, this viewer’s interest at least!).

Now that I’m properly into the Barmouth beach groove, I have some more photographs that feature this building, taken from a slightly different angle but still set against the backdrop of these foreboding hills that I’m keen to try to paint over the coming weeks.

Thoughts on A bigger, better (?) Barmouth Beach

19 thoughts on “A bigger, better (?) Barmouth Beach”

  1. Pingback: What a wonderful year

  2. Pingback: Barmouth Beach – ink flamingos

  3. I also prefer the second, the colours seem to gel better and produce a more restful scene. I was painting at Barmouth beach a couple of months ago and recognised the little cafe straight away. It’s a really nice place. I wish I lived near the beach :)

    1. Thanks so much Nicola for your comments – very kind and much appreciated! Am particularly glad that you recognised the view having painted there yourself. I love coastal scenes – probably even more so when they’re out of season. This was based on photographs taken over new year when it was particularly wet and windswept. I’ve got some other views of this same building that I’m looking forward to trying and hope that I might build up a little series of Barmouth images so hope you’ll be able to follow my progress!

  4. I agree, the second one is better and feels more grounded….the placement is much better and my eye goes to your focal point whereas on the first one, my eye was confused. Also the buildings to the left feels more accomplished and helps balance the painting. The warmth in the foreground of the first one was lovely but wasn’t helping with narrowing down the focus. How did you like going to a half sheet? Isn’t it wonderful having several tries at the same motif and coming away satisfied?

    1. Thanks so much for your kind and considered comments Margaret – very much appreciated. Painting at half sheet is definitely my preferred size – I think it just gives me more space to move paint about, use bigger brushes, paint a little looser and, hopefully be little more expressive. I still want to paint on quarter sheet (and to sketch at even smaller A6 size) but I think I’m happier painting large and would like to sometime go even larger – just for the fun of it! – just out of interest, what’s the largest scale you’ve painted at?

      1. I have painted a half sheet and I rather enjoyed it. It felt like I could spread my wings and let fly. My problem is that it using more of my paper and I get a little resistant towards using such a big sheet for….one painting. lol I just need to make sure that I have a lot of paper on hand so that way I don’t freak out. I do need to buy a larger mop, my favorite brush to date.

        1. Haha – yes – I know it can feel like a tremendous indulgence but compared with feeling of spreading one’s wings to really let fly – I’ve decided that it’s worth it! Go get yourself the larger mop – they’re wonderfully liberating to paint with.

          1. haha! of course, you hit a very good point and now I can’t ignore it….what size mop do you work with on a large format painting? I have the hardest time deciphering the sizes, there is no set sizing for all brushes. And brand that you work with, pretty please.

          2. Hmmm I’m reluctant to give advice on this Margaret as one person’s brush is another person’s broom! But, for what it’s worth – I’ve just taken out of my bushes case my favourite mops: Escoda Aquario sizes 10 and 14 (I find the 10 is great for 1/4 sheet size and that the Escoda mops are shorter in length, denser and have great control for more detailed work too than other mops. I also use a da Vinci petit Gris pure size 4 which has longer bristles than the Escoda and I really like using for looser washes such as skies. I also have a da Vinci size 4 series 803 (both of these came from random eBay purchases so more luck than judgement) cats tongue brush which again is great for looser work. I also have a size 6 pro arte Renaissance squirrel which is about a size up from the Escoda 14 (I know! go figure!). Afraid I don’t have any science behind this – just trial and error! Good luck with your deliberations – and do let me know what you decide on and how you get on with it!

          3. That is why I asked because I need to hear what other artists like and use, it is very important I feel. I will research each one and hope to make a purchase soon. My husband and I will be going to the big city in a few weeks and I’ll be purchasing a mop…..can’t wait, lucky me ;) thank you for this info and I’ll let you know what I get. Oh….on the Saunders paper, which ones have you used and like the best and least. I think that you mentioned the rough. I adore Saunders, poor Fab. Artistico has come in second lately. lol

          4. Confess that my explorations into different papers is pretty limited. I started on Bockinford before moving onto Saunders Waterford rough (can’t recall the weight but think around 300gsm). It suits me fine at the moment so don’t feel the need to look elsewhere.

I'd love to hear any thoughts you have about this

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