Trek fishermen waiting for the signal to launch

Here is my studio take on the trek-fishermen at Smitswinkelbaai.  Most of the artists in “The watercolor Landscape Techniques of 23 International Artists”  recommend doing a value sketch before starting a new painting.  My value sketch is usually my first full scale attempt.  So I decided to try doing this.  Here is the value sketch:


Actually it is really two but anyway.

Here is my drawing which was supposed to be more detailed than usual but actually wasnt:


The cactus in the background is my Christmas gift from Ethan.  One well armed dude!

And here is where the painting is right now.  I have tried to do the rocks in one go – without glazing and glazing.  However my first go was last night when I was tired and not daring enough.  You can see the result of that one in the rock on the far right – I have done the others again.  These are quartzite boulders from the Table Mountain Sandstone mountains surrounding the beach.  The outcrops are granites (Cape Granite I think – I should know but was not listening much in these lectures in my first year of Geology – long long ago)…


I am hoping the sea will take life when I put in the surrounding darks.  I have also defined the detail a little more carefully.  I painted the rocks to the music of Donna Summer – yeh – a blast from the past – heh heh – could it be magic – and I posted this to the music of the Doobie Brothers…

Here is how it looks at the dinner break, with the beach in place:


I thought I would do a few studio projects this holiday but this is the first time I have felt I have had the energy.   But there we are – this feels so good.  Oh and yesterday the gallery phoned to say there were people who wanted my rock pool paintings but were quibbling about the price – my first reaction was to suggest they go and look at the local  furniture mart where they have huge poster stands full of chocolate box posters.  But I didn’t and I sold them.  I am keen to make space for new work now.

Well here is the next piece – I did this listening to Paul Harrison – All things must pass:


Time for bed and here is how it looks:


I must review the values.  But it is time to give this a break and see how it looks in the morning.


14 thoughts on “Trek fishermen waiting for the signal to launch

  1. Wow Stephen, beautiful rocks! Just on your reply to my previous comment, we unfortunately do not live on that side of the bay. We are in Panorama, Northern Suburbs, no beach across the road. : ( My sister stays in Simons Town.

    • Hi Cecily – Oh – I thought you lived in Fishhoek – Simonstown is such a funky village – I am sure you visit your sister often. Thanks for the feedback too. I hope you are painting tonight. EEK – I have just seen a crumpled tissue moving across my table – it was one of those shiny brown beetles – phew! Off it goes – Cheers hey S

    • Hi Leslie – thanks hey – I remember Carol’s comment about her favourite colour – I had to bring the people down the beach a little – also – I didn’t take a camera to the beach as I thought – well – I just didn’t think of it. So I took some pictures with my cellphone camera so I don’t have that much detail with which to work – but I guess that is better in a way. OK – on with the painting – this is so cool chatting while I work – it is like working together. (o: Internet is so lekker…

  2. Hi Stephen,

    Thanks for showing us the steps to this watercolor (and the music you listened to – Donna Summer – were you wearing your spandex pants at the time?)

    I laughed when I read Leslie’s comment. And I thought the same thing. Those rocks look like gems! I do have a question though…are those rocks as large as they appear in your painting? They are more like boulders than rocks if that’s the case. They seem larger than the boat.

    The colors in this painting are spectacular. Bright and alive. I love the people sitting on the beach waiting for their call to action.

    This one is a beauty.

    • Hi Carol – yeh – the disco era – it is still good music, some of it. Thanks for the positive comments. Your concern about the scale of the rocks is useful for me. The rocks really are large, but certainly not bigger than the boat. I do want to indicate a greater distance into the middle ground. I have the painting up in my studio and look at it while I sit here. I hope to give the subject another go soon.

      Some changes I would like to make:
      1. Tone the green slope right down to almost the same saturation as the sky
      2. Saturate the green sea area in the middle ground and put in a little more colour (less foam).
      3. Get the details in the boat more tight.
      4. Get a nice bright slice of beach between the boat and the granite outcrop.
      5. More ideas to follow.


  3. Wonderful composition, colours, water, rocks – everything – it really lives.
    Those rocks are most pleasing – their positions, shapes and mostly their colour and the way you painted the surf foaming against them. Have to say you’ve painted the water especially well. This goes right up there with your best paintings for sure.

    Isn’t it amazing how helpful a good educational book can be…if only one actually reads them? Santa gave me a few that I need to study. The less said about your musical tastes, the better! Sorry. Cough!

    • Hey June
      Yep – well – what can I say – I once heard someone say “everyone is entitled to their own tastes” to which someone else replied “but why do they have to be so bad????
      Who can account for associations in taste?

      Thank you for your appreciative comments.
      The support tempers my self-critical perfectionism
      It is true about reading and learning – for some reason the book has had a big impact – a very rich read…

  4. Well. This is absolutely the best so far! I am really led into this by the detail and beauty of the foreground rocks. The foam on the sea is exquisite and the addition of the people watching with the boat at ready creates a wonderful story line. The shapes in the background all point to the direction the people are looking. Nice composition and beautiful use of color. Wow!

    • Mmmm – interesting observations on the composition – this is so useful – thanks Leslie. I feel like I took a step forward with this. Patience and taking it slowly with daring – ai – if I could just hold this ground. thanks so much for your support here. S

  5. Hi Steve

    Would love to see the Smitswinkel in real life. It looks lovely and rich and evocative, reviving my own memories of being there. The boat launched from there is unusual–mostly I have been on my own down there with the wild open sea and those adoring whale-like boulders.

    See you soon

    • Hey James – nice to see you here – Next time I come that way I will bring the painting – it is on a full size Arches sheet – 780×560 I think it is.
      What a place – I would love to spend more time there.
      The trek-fishermen seem to be quite well set up with a shelter on the beach made with driftwood and anchovy netting. And they have a lookout up the hill who signals the shoals coming into the bay. As I got there the other day they leaped up and pushed the boat on the trailer down over the band of boulders. Then they sat and waited. I guess the fish must have changed their minds. I am sure it is quite lucrative. The guys fishing off the cliffs at Rooikrantz used to see blue fin tuna swimming below them.
      Cheers man – S

  6. Hi Stephen,
    Great painting – I’ll be looking for the tweaked versions, coming to a computer monitor soon!
    You’ve had so many spot-on comments that I will say only this – Don’t you just love it when fishermen paint their boats such vibrant colours? We saw some in Portugal when we were there, my sister and myself, in 1977. They were awesome. Unfortunately at the time, we didn’t have good cameras, so we don’t have a record of what we saw.
    What delightful colours there are in the rocks. It gives you a perfect opportunity to have a seascape with rich warm elements and strong colours.

    • Hi K – isn’t it great – the red is functional – if you upend in the middle of the ocean you want people to see you – but the green and white is so beautiful. I am working on the next version of the composition.
      Nice to see you here again.
      Cheers hey

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