Three Blue Boats.
On the last day of May, brilliant sunshine beckoned me to see the boats gleaming in nearby Tarbert harbour. I grabbed my painting backpack, a sandwich, and drove up the coast to my destination; I had a few hours painting time on my docket, and I didn’t want to waste any of it.
My artist ‘spider sense’ tingles anytime I’m out and about, looking for new ideas to sketch around every corner. But if I’m on a mission to paint on any given day, it really kicks in. There are just loads of different possibilities, so an important part of the creative challenge is to calm down and find one simple theme to focus on.
If you're just beginning to paint outside, I really wouldn’t recommend setting up along a busy street. Working in a public setting can be intense. Actually, it’s a little bit like entertaining a group of strangers in your kitchen before you know what you’re going to cook. It’s normal (and not a bad thing) for folks to be curious about what you’re doing. Usually people are very courteous and polite, but I do have a few unusual stories to tell. I’ll save those for another day, though….
If you do decide to paint boats in a harbour, you’ll usually have onlookers. Once you learn how to begin painting on site, it gets easier to work and casually interact with the most interested folk who stop by. It can be a fun give-and-take, but talking does take some concentration away from the limited time you have to paint, so diplomacy is key.
On this occasion, I had several conversations. My friend who owns the local chippy, people from various parts of England, someone from Germany and a woman from China — who offered to take my picture — stopped by briefly to chat. A pair of swans who live in the harbour also came along, proudly leading their cygnets.
Working quickly — ever conscious of the changing light — I had a study of the colours and composition down on the small canvas in a couple of hours. In subsequent days, I put finishing touches on in the studio.
It was a perfect painting day. No big breeze to blow gear over; cooperative light; friendly folks passing. Tarbert is a gem of a harbour village and I'm lucky to have it nearby for painting inspiration. I hope you’ll feel the sun on the water in my painting, ‘Three Blue Boats’.