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Painting Tenby Harbour

Painting of Tenby Harbour
You may well have noticed, that I like to explore different subject matters. I find it impossible to paint any one thing, be it landscapes, seascapes, animals or streetscapes all the time. I like to pursue a theme for a while and then switch to a different subject or work on small canvases to a large one. They all present different challenges. I sometimes wonder why I like to make myself slightly uncomfortable but again and again, I do. I was ill over Christmas with the cold from hell which developed into a nasty cough that sprang into action with any drop in temperature. Just before I gave up everything and just sat in front of the fire, I painted a painting of Tenby Harbour. I hadn’t planned to, but I was looking through my photos and I came across a photograph I had taken last spring. I was struck by the light on the lobster pots. So I painted it.
Tenby Painting
Early Morning Tenby (SOLD)
I then gave up painting for a while, as the cold air in my studio set off my cough, and coughing and painting don’t go well together. Sitting in front of the fire, I was aware that I wanted to paint a boat. The small boats in the “Early Morning Tenby” painting hadn’t quite satisfied me. So I decided to paint a boat called “Mistress II” moored up at the quay at Tenby Harbour. I was quite nervous before I started the painting. I was concerned that I would get sucked into painting the detail of the building in the distance so I decided to sketch a tonal painting before I added colour. What I mean by a tonal underpainting – is just using thinned red ochre and raw umber to sketch out the light and shade in a composition. In this way, it would help me simplify the buildings in the distance and so focus the viewers’ eye on the boats in the foreground. They also helped me solve the “problem” of the lobster pots on the “Mistress II” which were in shadow.  I think the tonal under-painting helped the final painting.
Tenby Painting
Hazy Tenby
Unfortunately, I was so nervous about this painting I didn’t think to take a photograph of the tonal sketch so I can’t show it to you! I made a point of taking a series of photos to show the work-in-progress of my next Tenby painting. This composition was interesting to me as a third of the town of Tenby and half of the harbour and was in shadow. The harbour wall and half of Castle Hill, however, were in bright sunshine.  #1 Under-painting of Tenby Harbour This painting took most of the week to complete as the light was so poor. I could only work for a few hours at a time. I resisted the urge to push on once the light went. Sometimes, I like the early stages of a painting the best, as it’s still all potential! 
Painting of Tenby Harbour
Finished – Tenby Panorama
Painting of Tenby Harbour Close Up When I looked at the finished painting, I found pleasure in the curves of the harbour wall on the right side of the painting. As it was in shadow, I had not really paid it much attention before. You may recognise the lobster pots on the quayside to the right of the painting that were such a big feature in the first Tenby painting in this series. On the left, there is the tiny turquoise boat alongside the quay. This is the Mistress II, which was in “Hazy Tenby”.  That makes me smile. In a weird way, it reminds me of the many novels of Anthony Trollope in which he created a world in which a  person may be the central character in one book and a minor figure, who only gets a passing reference, in another. Once I have painted an object or person they become quite fixed in my memory, largely because I had studied them so closely. The lobster pots had their moment in “Early Morning Tenby” and tiny turquoise boat in “Hazy Tenby”, and now are supporting characters in “Tenby Panorama”.  

17 thoughts on “Painting Tenby Harbour

  1. …and there are the reflected buildings to consider. On a different subject, dynamic range is also a challenge in photography. Some subjects I have to avoid altogether, the camera cannot render it.

    1. That’s true – too much light can bleach out or not enough can make it all dark. I spend a lot of time fiddling with my photos (RAW Therapy) before I used them as reference material – They are not great photos as I take them specially with paintings in mind.

  2. This is wonderful. I really enjoyed seeing your process from the almost monotone or sepia toned start to the colorful end. Thanks for sharing all of that;the building blocks of your art work!

    1. I am glad you enjoyed it. Often I forget to take photos!

  3. I tend to like the early stages of a painting too. Which is probably why it takes me so long to get to the second, third, fourth, stages etc.!

    1. Ha! Ha! I suffer a sort of anxiety until I am confident that the painting will work, then I relax and enjoy it. If I take too long painting a picture I can lose interest in it completely!

  4. It’s a fascinating process you describe, Emma. I wish I could paint but my attention to detail is nowhere near yours. This really brings back the Tenby of my youth and I’m quite smitten with the watery pools and reflections. 🙂 🙂

    1. I am very happy that my paintings have reminded you of Tenby in the past. It’s such a pretty town.

  5. You are so good with shadows and reflections, not to mention eye-catching colors! I LOVE the Tenby Panorama! It’s one of my favorites of yours for sure.

    1. Thank you. You have mentioned my 3 favourite things, shadows, reflections & colour!

    2. Thank you, Pam. That’s a real compliment.

  6. Wow! You continue to amaze me, Emma. Your art is always stunning!

    1. Thnak you so much, Alexis

  7. I should try this sepia method. My paintings always seem to go through an ugly teenager moment before they resolve themselves, and yours don’t seem to do that. I love all of these, but the first one is really delightful to me. I like how the distant buildings look flat and decorative, while the water in the foreground has gentle movement, set off by the strong diagonal.

    1. Thank you, Melissa. I have only used this sepia methods for paintings with large areas of shadow and buildings. I think it works well for that sort of subject matter.

      1. I’ve always just jumped in with both feet but lately I’ve wanted to plan things out a little more. I think it might help me do that, too.

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