I thought I'd share a work in progress as it has been a while since the last one. In the past I have shown a stage by stage progression of the actual painting starting with the under painting and working my way through to the final stage. This time I thought I would show the progression from initial concept.
This piece started back at Christmas, on Boxing Day to be exact, with a walk on the beach at St. Aubin's Bay in Jersey. When I was a child we lived very close but in the last twenty years it has become almost unrecogniseable when you look toward the town side as much land has been reclaimed from the sea and the harbor extended.
The photograph makes it look like a really dull and grey day but it was a beautiful morning and warm, it didn't feel like December. The bright sun reflected in the wet sand has over exposed the photo making it look very dark in comparison to how it was. There was hardly anyone on the beach at all, it felt like His Nibbs and I had the whole bay to ourselves. As we walked halfway around the bay a rider was exercising her horse at the waters edge and the reflections they made in the wet sand were catching my eye. On a large expanse of beach even a large horse can look miniscule. I took some photos and watched intently trying to memorise what I was seeing as I had come out without a sketchbook.....
|Sketchbook studies ©2012 Lisa Le Quelenec|
You can see that very early on in these planning stages that I have decided to leave out any reference to the actual place. I could have included the shapes of the land or St. Aubin's Fort in the right of the bay or Elizabeth Castle on the right. The reason for this is that by omitting it the painting becomes at once more universal, it could be any beach and the rider could be anyone. I hope for the viewer to be able to put themselves in my paintings with their own memories and experiences.
I practiced getting the shape of the horse and rider, who I planned on showing only in silhouette, first in pencil, paying particular attention to the negative shapes made by the horses legs. (The photographs that I had taken came in very handy here.) Once I felt a little more confident I tried just drawing them with a brush in as few strokes as possible and to the scale that I would need in the painting.
The collage of images above is made from tiny sketches that were originally just a few inches big. Each time a new thumbnail is drawn, the plan for the painting develops, sometimes there are blind alleys but on the whole it is a very useful process for me in developing the essence of a piece. Better to adjust an element in a small thumbnail than to have to adjust something crucial in a large canvas. With preparation done it is time to get on with the painting....