Port Macquarie Rocks

July 22, 2014 | Leave your thoughts

Back home and starting to scan my Port Macquarie sketches…. here is the double page spread of the rocks at Flynns Beach. I am slightly addicted to painting these rocks. This is definitely my favourite sketch of the trip!

There are some pretty crazy watercolour textures in this sketch… I was playing with the pigment and water and varying brushes strokes to get certain effects… but watercolour was helping me out a lot… and the paper did too.

And what was the paper? the new moleskine paper!!! – yes that new inferior paper that many of us are so worried about. Guess what…. I am getting used to it! But more about this shortly….

But lets work chronologically. I arrived at Port Macquarie on Thursday afternoon and my friend and I picked up a takeaway coffee and headed straight for Town Beach. Port Macquarie has a number of lovely beaches – Town Beach is the most accessible.

I really love being at the beach but for some reason find it very difficult to get there – even though Sydney has an impressive collection of options. I didn’t get to the beach at all last summer (remember we are in mid winter here in the Southern Hemisphere right now). I love painting at the beach – but it is not so much the waves and sand – it is the rocks with the sand and waters as context. Port Macquarie beaches have lots of dramatic volcanic rocks scattered across them (not just at the headland ends).

This afternoon was a warmup sketch getting back in the mood and hey! – a little bit of coffee foam somehow managed to land on the page.
For the record this sketch is on the less textured ‘back’ of the new moleskine (for more background please refer to my earlier review)

Friday: While my brave friend went for a swim, I sat looking into the sun and sketched the very dark rocks of Shelley Beach.

One aspect of the new moleskine paper that a number of people have been concerned about is the different texture of the front and back across a spread. I did state on my original review that the paper has been stitched together so that the same texture is consistent across a spread. So one spread is textured (front) and then the next is flatter (back). However this particular spread was textured on the left side and flatter on the right- can you tell?

I didn’t notice this at the time although it confused me later in the day when using the next spread (I expected to be the back surface but was textured!)I like to be conscious before I started of which of the two surfaces I am working on as it does slightly change the way I work.

Saturday: A wild and windy afternoon – it would have been too rough to sketch outside but thankfully there are fantastic views from the carpark of Flynn’s Beach so I spent 2 hours in the car painting and playing with pigment. Here is the collection at the end of the time- my sketches drying in the back seat of my car (plus that sketch above which was overleaf in my sketchbook)

As I mentioned earlier… I am really happy with that first painting – here are two zoomed up crop views of it.

I was working very wet, dropping in colour, moving it around with my brush, varying brush strokes. You can see the strong granulation and paper texture…but I am starting to get the hang of how to use this paper in a way that works for me.

I did a few more versions from this spot in the carpark on loose pages (see below) and then decided to move my position (where I was parked was not the best view of these rocks)

A view of the beach with Nobby’s Head in the background.

What really struck me was the three shapes of rocks with different colours.

I am not very good at waiting for washes to dry – especially when I work as wet as I was doing here… so we have some green explosions into the sky! Sometimes we get good happy accidents – other times a little of patience would give a little more control of these accidents…. ah! all part of the fun of working with watercolour!

The light was about to start fading and there were still plenty of cars in the carpark… so I didn’t have a choice of the perfect vantage spot from my car. But this will do.

One ‘final’ sketch …or so I told myself at the time – this is on the back side of the paper and it does behave a bit differently. It certainly doesn’t like you working back into wet mixes as much as the front textured side.

I finished off with one more in my Alpha sketchbook. You can see that I still achieve a lot of the effects I am after despite the fact the paper isn’t helping me much.

And finally here are the 3 sketches I did on loose sheets from the first car positon – using Cotman 300gsm paper. I didn’t enjoy using this as much as the moleskine….but it is hard to just jump between paper in the one painting session!! The purpose of these sketches was pure experimentation!

First cotman sketch was using ink outlines to start with… This sketch confirmed that I much prefer to abandon my lamy pen when at the beach!

But… since I was using ink – how about going crazy and use my sailor pen drawing into wet paint?

I got some really crazy pigment reactions while doing this but then overworked my darks….

…So one final sketch to play with pigment… I then ran out of steam. There is a limit to how many studies I can do in the one session of the same subject!

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