I often buy fresh fish from the fish market in town, it is a busy outdoor market in the port town of La Spezia in Italy. These Red Mullets are fresh in each morning and they are very good fried or can also be served painted and put in a frame which was my first choice here. There is something I like when you buy fish wrapped up in paper instead of plastic and at the market everything is hastily wrapped up like this while the fish monger shouts about at whatever else there is for sale. When I got home I couldn’t wait to unwrap the package and start about painting the white paper set against the lovely pinky red and silver tones of the Mullets.
This painting will be exhibited this wednesday in – The Royal Society of Marine Exhibition – in London opening 30th September – 10th October. The show is up on the walls and open to the public (and also online as always for those who cannot be there). What a year it’s been!! I am very thankful that at least a small part of me has been sent to London, maybe I in person will patiently follow next year 😉
Every year from May to July when the sea has warmed up and the anchovies are big and lean they come into the markets and we buy enough to put them under salt, a process that rewards you with a tasty treat that will last and taste deliciously fresh for ages. Here are a few left over, the cat got these ones at the end.
I spent an afternoon at the beach in Pietrasanta in Versiglia which is a big long stretch of sand that is the part of north-western Tuscany just next door to Liguria. It was nice to see so much sand infront of me and I sat on the shore while painting.
Le Grazie is a small fishing village near La Spezia. There is a beach opposite which gives a good view across the harbour. Many of the beaches are formed of rocky coves and colourful fishermens villages and the sea is always rich in colour by all the reflected light from its surroundings.
And here below are a couple of paintings of Levanto which is the next town north of Monterosso. This is where my anchovies came from. The sea is crystal clear.
My oil painting ‘Lifting Fog on Ducie Beach, Bembridge’ has been selected for the Royal Society of Marine Artists exhibition in London. I very much enjoyed looking around the show last year and it felt nice to be in a gallery surrounded by paintings inspired by the marine enviroment, it had a good feel with everyone exploring all the many diversities of the one subject, the sea, and I had hoped to take part in it one day. So ‘one day’ has arrived and I am looking forward to visiting the exhibition next week. Most of the paintings are of the British coastline including mine that was painted on a beach in the Isle of Wight which is an island in the south where part of my family are originally from.
I had hoped for a completely different feel when I set out to paint this one March morning last year, the sky was blue when I set out and I had planned to paint the view of the Bembridge Lifeboat Station with the tide breakers on the beach. I think that is why the sea is so fascinating because nothing can be planned and it all changes so quickly, the fog rises while the tide goes out, reflections in the water are there for a moment then they disappear while I am still trying to paint the sky and what is not there in the distance!
Google Maps have put together an interesting map of everyones paintings showing in the upcoming Marine Exhibition and where they were painted along Britain’s coast. Here is the link:
A couple of weeks ago I went to an outdoor painting exhibtion where artists were invited to paint in a local boatyard harbour here in Le Grazie in Italy that was hosting a weekend of Regatta of Classic boats. It was great fun to be able to see so many beautiful classic sail boats. The weather was fine, the wind was good for sailing and the people friendly – it was a great weekend!
I dont really have much experience in painting boats and every boat I chose to paint in the foreground disappeared after half an hour so I never got to finish the masts and the rigging, a bit of memory was needed and also the help of the camera to remind me where to put the rigging was extremly helpful. It made me wonder how marine artists in the past were able to paint every little detail, it was either from memory or very careful sketching over long periods of experience spent in the boatyards. Mastering the art of human anatomy is probably the same sort of thing I imagine you would need to paint a boat.
During the time I was painting I tried a new medium for oil paint: Poppyseed Oil. The advantage of this oil is that it doesn’t yellow like linseed oil and it dries very slow which was an advantage when I added the rigging to the boats back in the studio because the sky hadn’t dried and I was able to work wet into wet. When using poppyseed oil the painting should be finished all in one go instead of waiting for layers to dry as it will crack if the layers havent dried properly and used underneath linseed oil should be avoided. Linseed oil dries much faster, the only weak point is that when dry it tends to yellow or darken the whites and paler colours unlike poppy oil that is transparant.