The Pebble Collectors is the third of seven oil paintings I have completed in the last two years of children and families in beach or coastal settings. These marked a step change for me from subjects I have traditionally painted and was inspired by two factors.
Firstly, a desire to paint some smaller and simpler oil paintings than the traditional marine and land-scapes which had formed most of work until then.
Secondly, an admiration for the work of Nicholas St John Rosse whose paintings Sue and I had admired more than once at the annual London exhibition of the Royal Society of Marine Artists and whose work we have since seen in several galleries. He has a lovely website and I urge DBAC members to google him and have a peek!
The critical catalyst came two years ago on a journey to Northumberland when my wife Sue and I stopped off for a sandwich on the beach at Alnmouth. A typical east coast day – bright and sunny with a bracing breeze off the North Sea! Nearby was a young family whose two children had built a splendid sandcastle, so I whipped out my camera and took a quick shot. This became the source material for the first painting in my ‘beach’ series. It’s called Castle Builders and can be seen in my gallery on the DBAC website. The second and third paintings- Paddlers and Pebble Collectors arose from a visit to Devon to see former Naval colleagues. Both have been exhibited at the DBAC’s 6 monthly exhibition and can also be seen on my gallery page where the colours are more true to the original artwork.
Folk are more accepting of using photos as reference material these days and for me I find they help enormously in enabling me to paint when I have the inspiration (important as you get older and find focusing more difficult!) and particularly over the long winter months when I am usually most productive.
Exceptionally, I have attached Sue’s photo which I used as reference for the Pebble Collectors and to produce the composition I wanted, I adapted the scene by making several changes which placed significant demands on my imagination to work up appropriate colours and shades. These included - replacing the red Devon sand with more traditional yellow to strengthen the contrast with the figures; moving the youngest child out of the shadows of her brother and into the centre of the picture, along with the pile of pebbles and making the second girl slightly slimmer and enhancing the ripples in the water to strengthen the feeling of her tripping lightly among the pools.
Having journeyed from Paignton to Dalgety Bay, the three children now live with friends in St David’s. However other young colleagues from Bournemouth and Aberdour are awaiting a coat of varnish and a frame and will no doubt soon be ready for their public appearance too.
Pebble collectors is the June entry in the DBAC Calendar 2020