David Bellamy – Creating a large foreground

It’s some time since I found time to write a blog post – having to work on the studio, being away from home and a recalcitrant computer with an impossible broadband service has made it difficult. The sun is beating down outside and the spring flowers are rife, a marvellous time to be out sketching, so maybe when I finish this post I’ll get some fresh air.

Dylan's Boathouse smMy subject today is Dylan Thomas’s Boathouse  where he wrote his poetry. In this case I have designed the composition so that the foreground plays a major part, covering at least half the area of the painting. This has allowed me a rather long lead-in where I’ve elongated one of the ditch-like creeks and let it fade into the immediate foreground. With so much foreground space there is a danger that it could be severely over-worked, so I have made the detail intermittent, gradually losing it lower down as a vignette.

I began rendering the foreground by drawing in the shapes of stones in outline with a fine rigger brush, varying the colour with burnt umber, light red and ultramarine. I then washed a medium tone of French ultramarine and light red over the area, avoiding the stream and light stones, working very quickly with a number ten sable, not worrying if I covered some of the stone images, and losing the edges of others where they were still wet. While this was all wet I dropped in other colours, mainly yellow ochre, and then let the painting dry. Finally I drew in further stones with the rigger – these are the ones that stand out more prominently. I also added touches to some of the light stone shapes to make them stand out.

This painting is now on display with others at Art Matters in their White Lion Street Gallery in White Lion Street, Tenby in Pembrokeshire. Their telephone number is 01834 843375 if you wish to get in touch, and their site is www.artmatters.org.uk  Enjoy your painting and make sure you give those foregrounds plenty of consideration before you decide on the final composition. Don’t be afraid to make them a significant part of the painting, and not just an after-thought.

10 thoughts on “David Bellamy – Creating a large foreground

  1. David, I loved your post of Dylan Thomas’s Boathouse and would love to know your technique and ‘step by step’ in order to achieve the misty sun and the way you have managed to preserve it’ s glow? If you have a moment to let me know, I would be so grateful.
    Looking forward to seeing you in the Wye Valley in July.
    Hope you are both well,
    Love , Beverley.

    • Beverley,
      When there is a large area covering the ground aspects it pays to keep the sky simple. All I did was wet the paper over the sky area, float in some Naples yellow, leaving a white part untouched where I wanted the lightest part of the sky, and then blended in some cadmium orange. All this was achieved in less than a minute, then left to dry. Naples yellow, despite being opaque, can impart a lovely sense of glow into a sky. Remind me on the course if you are having difficulties.


  2. As always, you have rendered a feeling with such mastery. I truly enjoy being swept away with your work. The textures and atmosphere are so Bellamyesque 🙂 Oh, that I lived on the same continent so I could take lessons from the master. I absolutely love your paintings, David.

  3. I love this painting David. I think your enjoyment of watercolour shows so much in this one, which is passed on to the viewer. With such a large foreground, demonstrated and described by you, the eye is drawn first to this with lovely ‘lost and founds’, to the boat and eventually to the white house and atmospheric sky. A truly enjoyable experience . I did spend some time pondering about the pinkish tree tops on the left, but the more I looked, the more I liked it, ( complemented by the sky)
    Thanks for the lovely blog David.

    • Gill,
      Yes, it’s eye-opening when you see what you feel may be strange colours or shapes in a painting. Pink can be quite a common colour of winter trees caught in sunlight. On Wednesday I was out on the mountains, and coming back down stood and admired some beautiful birches, their upper parts wine-red and bringing a lovely warm colouring to the landscape. Enjoy your painting.


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