When visiting family near Sissinghurst in Kent I always take the opportunity to pull in a painting trip to the nearby coastal town of Rye, a short drive away in East Sussex. One of my favourite spots is Rye Harbour with its array of fishing boats which make their way up the river for a couple of miles to their moorings close to the town. Here the river Brede divides, with one arm meandering further into the town where a multitude of yachts and pleasure craft sit perched on the sand banks along the sides of the river when the tide is out.
My visit on 10th July was on a bright sunny day so I wanted to work against the light. I found an ideal spot looking down towards the line of moorings along the far side of the river. From this position the powerful directional shadow shapes over the ground, coupled with the contrasting areas of glistening reflected light over the wet sand gave the subject more impact.
I always think of my plein-air paintings as investigative studies, informational sketches that will serve as valuable reference models for future, more considered, studio paintings. I often work in watercolour in a sketchbook making tonal sketches but using two colours, where my painting determinants are limited to light/dark and warm/cool. I find these studies less restrictive when working from them in the studio where actual colour choices can be more subjective.
My painting location looking into the light
Two colour watercolour tonal study working across the pages of an A4 size sketchbook.
I also did a similar study from a slightly different location this time using a full colour palette and working on watercolour paper. Again above else I wanted to get the sense of lighting.
12 x 16 in plein-air watercolour study on Arches paper.
I am also including a couple of oil studies made during an earlier visits to the area from the opposite side of the river when the lighting was less intense.
River Brede Moorings: 16 x 20 in: plein-air oil study
River Brede on an overcast day : 13 x 24 in: plein-air oil study