A friend who knows I’m on the lookout for painting locations recently told me about a spot he thought had good potential. He described an intriguing hidden cove on the seaside well below the roadway.
The very next day, sunshine promised sparkling light on the water, and I loaded my gear in the hatch ready for a painting adventure. Having a description for a trail to a hidden spot is like following a pirate map! After a bit of a hike, I found the likely way in and clambered down through brambles wearing my painting backpack. It seemed that there may have been once-used trails, now mostly overgrown. That just added to the intrigue for me as I worked to stay free from thorns while making my way down.
True to his description, I found a stunning overlook that could have inspired Scotsman Robert Louis Stevenson. With a view across to Cara, Islay, and Jura, I could imagine pirates or whisky bootleggers using just such a spot to make a landing.
As is often the case, the big challenge is picking a view in a new spot with so many compositional possibilities. You could easily use up your painting day just hiking around taking photos. I think it’s usually a good idea to just go with your first instinct and make a thumbnail sketch to test the idea.
I found a view almost right away, overlooking the beach from well above with clumps of signature Scottish gorse — in full bright yellow display — framing the turquoise sea. Of course, the colour of the ocean changes from moment to moment with clouds/sun/wind, but I’m always amazed how truly vibrant it is.
Because I’ve learned that seaside clouds could alter the look at any time, I try to mix and paint representative areas of colour as fast as I can when working on location. With my memories of the scene, I can then continue on with the painting in the studio — regardless how far I get while there. Although photos are helpful for reference, they just don’t convey subtlety of colour in shade or vibrancy of the lit scene as we experience it in person.
After I had some satisfying colour notes down, I allowed myself time to explore lost trails down to the beach itself. What a wonderful spot to imagine tales from the past. I hope I’ll get to go back to ‘hidden cove’ to try many other painting ideas I saw there.
Whatever your pursuits may be, I hope you’ll have a bit of the excitement of new discovery today and thank you for coming along with mine!