Sunday, 23 January 2011

Left Luggage

Left Luggage
Watercolour on Paper
24cm x 34cm (9.5" x 13.5")

Dunster Station is on the historic West Somerset Railway. I painted this view from some photos I took last year. Elaine and I visited the station on one of those rare British summer days when the sun is so bright it hurts your eyes. I was planning to sketch the station but had an attack of stage fright even though there was no one else on the platform. Instead, we had a cream tea and I took some photos before catching a steam train to Watchet - where I took some more photos and went to the pub instead of sketching the harbour.

I had a clear vision for how the finished painting should look. So, I drew it straight on to the paper without doing any preliminary sketches. In retrospect, this was a mistake because it took a few tries before I was happy with the trolley in the foreground. By then I had covered the paper in graphite and rubbing out. Fortunately, I was using Arches Rough paper (140lb / 300gsm). It is incredibly robust and stands up well to rough treatment.

I started the painting by covering the paper with some watery washes that I left to blend and settle. It is not something that I do very often but in this case, it worked well. It provided the out of focus background that I wanted and unified the luggage with the rest of the painting.

My initial plan was to put some more darks into the foliage, but I decided that they weren’t really needed and there was more chance of spoiling things than improving things.

I cannot finish without recommending the bed and breakfast we stayed at in Dunster. Spears Cross is a 5 star bed and breakfast in a comfortably furnished 15th century house.  The breakfasts are excellent and the service is perfect. (

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