afternoon watercolour at the pipe

Today I finished work stuff and took Calvin down for a wave at the pipe.  The waves were not big enough for him so I said I would have quick surf then he could use my long-board.   There were great sets coming in.  The waves were peaking at the outer reef then flattening out and breaking near the beach.  I paddled out to the reef which felt far out as there was only one other surfer in the water and he stayed closer in.  I felt a bit like an hors de oevre sitting out there thinking about the shark attack they had at Jongensfontein.  Apparently a Great White knocked the guy off his board and he grabbed onto the sharks tail!!!  He got away with one laceration on his calf and swam to shore praying fervently as he went.  mmmm.

So after a few really nice rides I thought it was time to give Calvin a go (heh heh)  and took one more wave and fetched him from the car where he was doing Mensa riddles from a pack of cards.

I sat in my normal spot, looking West.  The sky was a riot of colour.  We had had some rain while I was in the water then the sun came out.  So there was blue sky and pearly grey clouds.  And no wind.  I took out my better brushes and my larger palette and off I went.  Here is the progression:


You get a bonus here – FREE – my legs and one pink croc.  I prop the paint box on my feet to take the photos.  This was the first paint box I had made by my friend Ian Campbell in return for a painting.  It fits my plastic palette and my sushi-roll of brushes as well as some tape, a folded liqui-fruit box (a local brand of fruit juice) and other heck of important bits and pieces.

Wash 1 – the sky and the beach:


I recently saw a book of Hokusai prints.  He has this painting of Mount Fuji surrounded by clouds and the sky is the most beautiful grading of deep to light blue.  The sky was just like that, giving way to rain clouds.

Some detail:


And here is the final


Just as I finished this Calvin came out to fetch his own board as the swell had picked up and there were some lovely waves coming through.  I thought I would go in and have another wave.  Then I looked at the watercolour I had just done and realised that the proportion was all wrong.  The mountain was much MUCH too big!  I had about half an hour of light left so I decided to have another go.  So I ran to the car to fetch a tracksuit bottom and socks to go with my pink crocs.  (o:  much to the embarrasment of my son.  As I settled down I reflected on how I had dodged having to put on a wet wetsuit.  A career move!  And the swell dropped – so…

Then I did this watercolour of the same scene.  When I started Table Mountain was all but obscured by cloud but I could just make it out.  So this is how it went:


Better sky hey?  Hokusai pasop – here I come!


I did the mountain and the foreground because the raincloud was still too wet.

And here is the final, with which I am well pleased.


It was really much better using decent brushes.  And both of these watercolours were done on Arches 300gm quartered sheets (11 x 15 inches) which is double the size I have been using for sketches like this.  But with better brushes – not a problem to work with and more fun for some detail.  (I have reposted the photo of the watercolour so that you can see it in a bigger format)


I have bought myself a nice fat squirrel hair mop – a number 8 Petit Gris Pur by Raphail.  Not a travel brush but anyway.  Tonight if all goes well I will give it a whirl.  I did some splashing around on a piece of scrap – what a nice feeling.

I have been looking at brushes on the internet.  Leslie told me about Dick Blick.  They can send me a number 6 round travel brush for a reasonable price – worth a thought.  But I saw something much much more desirable.  Much much MUCH (with a capital M)  more –  A Craig Young Palette Box – Ai – time to sell off some of my work.  Fast.


14 thoughts on “afternoon watercolour at the pipe

  1. These are really nice. You are doing so well on sky paintings and the water always looks real. I am amazed how well you do in a short period of time. I’m glad Dick Blick can ship to you. If you are interested in filing your images smaller to save on space, I commented back to June on how to do that. It is not my theme. Everyone can do it. Keep up the good work. I’ll have to check out what a Craig Young palette box is.

    • Hi Leslie
      I saw your explanation to June and will try it. I really like looking at your paintings in larger format. Charles Reid markets Craig Young palettes in his books and they look really nice and solid – collectors pieces I think – they are hand made by Craig Young.
      I appreciate your notes on my paintings. I find the feedback I get from you and the others who leave notes here most invigorating. So thanks a lot for your caring feedback on my work.
      By the way – I learnt my current sea technique from reading CR’s notes on painting the sea in his Watercolour solutions book. He suggested painting in thin washes each overlapping (or something) and I have found this works for me to capture the change of colours from the horizon to the foreground. Probably the core change I have learnt in the last year is to paint in small swatches rather than large washes, as I used to do.
      Also – your note to toss out the rules is liberating.
      Cheers hey


  2. I have that book so I’ll look it up. However, I definitely see you in these paintings. I like to think it’s due to your love of the beach, water and whole area. Let me know if there’s a problem getting your pictures to enlarge.

  3. I loved this whole series of images and how the final paintings came out. I even liked the surfing stories until you got to the SHARKS part. It brings me back to when I saw JAWS and was petrified of the ocean for years. You, my friend, ARE CRAZY!

    I love the way you handle the sky and water. Thanks for what you said to Leslie. I will have to check out that book too. I’m so glad you can’t stop painting, since I can’t seem to start lately.


    • No I admit the pink crocs are over the top – but why should girls have all the nice colours? (I thought when I bought them – they were like marshmallows on my feet). This surfing thing is really compelling. I can quite see why some people do nothing else in their lives – though I don’t think this what it is about – I can understand how it happens. Apparently the guy in the attack said “Of course I am going back in”. The other day a seal surfaced near me and caused my heart to stop. I have yet to know how I will react to a shark.
      I am going to repost the final painting so that you can see it in a bigger format.
      No – I think you guys must come over to Afrique?

  4. You having pink marshmallow in Africa ?? Geee ! I am missing out !!
    I LOVE how you did the clouds in the painting where you said the mountain was too big. They are spectacular and so real ! That whole painting is fantastic, and I would not know whether the mountain was too big or not… It worked great !

    • Hi Isabelle – thanks hey – mmm – I really focussed on the clouds. There is a lady called Annie in the local watercolour group who takes me to task on the fact that my skies are too plain and I am keen to work on this. Pink Marshmallows – yeh yeh – do you like roasting them? Just about right for my sweet tooth. Cheers hey

  5. Those clouds really do it for me….mmh! In both paintings – the first stages are best – they’re a complete picture to me. I like them so much I put on Abby Dobson singing ‘Cloud Watching’ to accompany my viewing. I may be a little weird, but your clouds are amazing…even if you do wear pink crocs.

    Since I started coming to your site I’ve decided that I just just HAVE to move nearer to the sea immediately my son finishes his formal education. I won’t have the beautiful beaches of South Africa but a little pebbly one in Whitstable will do me.

    • Ah yes – the sea – I love it here. We take a massive cut in income here in the Cape compared with Johannesburg – but I love it here. Pebble beaches are beautiful. Thank you for this feedback. It is special for me to here this. This is a great intent. keep it top of page.

      I must do a search on Abby Dobson – this is special.

  6. Probably not the comment your were looking for…
    Nice legs!!!
    The skies in each of these are magnificent.
    The great thing about doing landscapes is that no one but yourself knows how close or far you were from that mountain, so for the viewer, that MUCH too big mountain looks just right. Don’t change a thing!
    Your skies are so interesting you could do paintings without the foreground – or at least minimize it greatly.
    I like the way you transition from the cool blue (Fr. Ultramarine?) to a warm one (cerulean or magnesium blue?) It’s a perfect wash, in the watercolourist’s sense of a wash.
    Keep painting. You are doing wonderfully,

    • Hi K – thanks hey – (o: they work for me… heh heh

      Doing nice smooth washes is one area I would like to work on at some stage – I am attracted to watercolours where the painter has managed to get this right – so thanks – this is great encouragement. I was pleased with the sky. And yes, the darker colours were strong in Fr Ultramarine as you say, the base is Cobalt blue which is quite a neutral blue I think. I like to use Mn blue for light though I am running low and used a mixture of Mn and Cerulean.

      By the way – I check my spam folder now and again for notes that have got stuck there and found yours this morning – sorry about that – There is a whole lot of really grotty stuff in there too so it serves its purpose well but I am pleased to have found your note

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