Quiet day at the docks

Short and Sweet

In fact, at its most sweetly succinct, this post could just read:

I did a painting this week – and I was really pleased with it.

But that’d be too brief even for my liking. I do feel however, that some of my recent posts have been far too long and wordy so it feels nice to be embarking on what I hope will be a much shorter post; especially as it’s about a painting that I feel overwhelmingly positive about. (I must be pleased with it as I’ve updated the image on my homepage with this latest one!)

Regular readers may recognise the subject matter as it’s something I’ve painted before, albeit from a different viewpoint. This is again based on the same series of photographs that I took whilst on vacation in France last year. The photos were taken at the harbour at La Cotinière on the Ilse D’Oleron in France.

Quiet day at the docks
Quiet day at the docks, La Cotinière, France

I like the space and balance between the activity and the emptiness of this composition. It sort of reflects the balance of time and effort that went into the painting. The sky and land (the main area of tarmac) that make up about 80% of the painting, took about 5 mins to do and were each applied in single washes. Everything else probably took another couple of hours all told! Unlike the other versions that I did of this painting, where I cut around the ladders etc, for this one I just brushed over these lighter areas with some masking fluid. I took this off when I was finally happy with the boat and then knocked those areas back into the shadows again. I’m not usually one for masking fluid but on this occasion, I’m really pleased I used it and am happy with the outcome. It’s painted on a half imperial sheet, so 15 by 22 inches – the scale of which I think gives everything room to breathe.

The figures weren’t in the reference photo but I added these in for a little scale and human interest. I can’t recall if was actually a Sunday when we visited this harbour but to me, the painting has a particular ‘no work, it’s Sunday’ feel to it, but I’ve opted to title it ‘Quiet day at the docks, La Cotinière, France’. Along with the other two paintings I’ve done of this scene, I think they make quite a nice grouping.

The straight on view, ‘Breaking for lunch’ was painted on a quarter imperial sheet and has already sold but it’s likely that I’ll do another version of this view as I’d really like to show the three together, or at least in close proximity, when I exhibit later this year. (And I must confess that it’s a tremendous relief whenever I complete a painting that I’m happy to add to my ‘might make the exhibition pile’)

Ok, now who doesn’t love a little bit of spot the difference?

I thought I’d finished this painting, to the point where I’d already photographed it, only to have it pointed out to me that something didn’t look quite right. So here are two photos of the same painting – although taken at different times and under different light conditions so apologies for those differences – with the exception that one of them has had about two extra brushstrokes added… any eagled eyed followers out there spot the difference?

Hmm, sweet maybe, but not so short after all!

Thoughts on Short and Sweet

8 thoughts on “Short and Sweet”

  1. Great painting with a beautiful open layout, John. I really love how you rendered the boat and although I have not used masking fluid yet it motivates me to test it. I like the other versions of the scenery, too – but the new one is definetely my favorite.

    1. Thanks Carsten, really appreciate this. I’ve not really used masking fluid much as when I have tried it, it’s usually looked really obvious and clumsy. Not sure what the difference was this time, perhaps that I was knocking it back so far, or maybe I’m a little more confident, or maybe I just got lucky on this occasion! Either way, hopefully I won’t be as shy of considering it in the future.

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

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