Sunday, 22 October 2017

The Kirkudbright Boat Project

On a visit to my sister's house in the summer, we took a day trip to the town of Kirkudbright.  We went to the Tolbooth Gallery where Henrietta Veys-Crocker had an exhibition of boat and seascape pictures.  She was in the gallery as we were looking around and I spent some time chatting with her about her work.  Boats are a subject matter I've always struggled with as they're a funny shape and the curves never seem to come out quite right.  She suggested I try turning the page upside down as the curve that your hand makes as you bring your arm around makes the shape easier and free-er.  Inspired, I came home and proceeded to paint hundreds of pictures of boats....most of which are now in my recycling bin.  But as I persevered, a couple of them started to come out looking vaguely boat shaped so I thought I'd share those with you today.  Both are pictures of abandoned boats in Kirkudbright which sit along the riverbank.  I've taken photographs of them on previous visits thinking they'd make good subjects for a painting one day but have never quite known what to do with them.

The first picture was done in pastels and I'm quite pleased with the colours as I think they show a hint of the scruffy abandoned nature of the scene.  But it is still a bit misshapen at the back and very nearly went the same way as everything else into the recycling.  Frustrated, I decided to pack my paints and pastels away and go back to basics with a pencil.  It was the right decision and this drawing is the only boat picture I produced that I'm actually happy with. 

I went to a demonstration recently at the Fleet Art Society and the artist presenting talked about the importance of sketchbooks for building up your ideas and composition.  I'm particularly bad at this and I have a tendency to launch straight into my pictures without too much thought.  Clearly this didn't work when tackling a subject matter I found difficult.  With some practice and perseverance, I did manage to eventually produce something I was happy with but I was thoroughly sick of boats by the time I did.  Maybe if I'd approached the exercise the other way around and tried more practice drawings and sketches before putting pressure on myself to produce a finished painting then I'd have had better results and a less frustrating time getting there.  I'm off out to buy a new sketchbook but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy these pictures more than I did!