Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rock study

Preparations to leave the island and return to England are now under way. It's been a wonderful month, gloriously relaxing and a chance to recharge my batteries. Next week it's back to writing and teaching and planning, back to school for the children and a time to get freshly organised for the upcoming autumn and winter events for me.
I will leave you for now with a little study of the pink rocks at Guerzido beach, and the gateway to the hidden garden. I am really glad I ran out of time on this one because I love it as it is in it's half painted, sketched and bare toned canvas state. I've learnt that it's best to leave a gem like this alone and if I still hanker after the subject I can start a new studio painting based on it.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hidden garden by the sea

Hidden garden by the sea
I think this must be my favourite from the trip! A magical place, with magical light.. this is a hidden garden by the sea. And that little building above the rocks may well be my studio one day... well a girl can dream can't she? And when it is you must join me there for a petit café or a refreshing glass of Brittany cider :-)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Deuxieme câle

Deuxieme cale
This is the deuxieme câle, where the ferry leaves or arrives on the island when it's medium tide. We always check the tide timetable before catching a ferry because it may be a ten minute walk to the boat or a twenty-five minute walk if the tide is low.
I found painting this really tricky with the reflective qualities of the wet mud making it so light in value and it's bumpy textured qualities adding extra complexity! I really didn't think it was working and then I stood back a few feet and suddenly I could see it and it all clicked into place.
We are quickly racing through our last week of summer on the island.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fête des voisins

Fête des voisins
Have you any idea how tricky this little exercise was? This 10" x 12" canvas was painted en plein air on Thursday evening, when we had our wonderful neighbourhood summer party. Believe me, nobody was posing or sitting even remotely still!! This was all action, real life, plein air challenge with the setting sun to contend with and dogs running around nearly knocking over me/my easel/my champagne glass/all three!
And fun like that doesn't come around every day :-)

The photo doesn't do it justice so forgive me if I show you again at some point when I've actually worked out how to use the new camera which I'm presently scared to even hold in my hands!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Royal Society of Marine Artists success

After the water spout, Eastpoint
Great news everybody! After a nerve wracking last few hours waiting for the final selection results to be announced I found out that this painting 'After the water spout, Eastpoint' has been accepted to hang in the exhibition!
You may remember that this is a large studio painting (about 30" x 36" framed) based on a study from my May plein air trip to the Gulf coast in Florida.
The Royal Society of Marine Artists exhibition takes place at the Mall galleries from October 16th to 27th.
I am absolutely delighted, and feel encouraged to continue to develop plein air paintings in the studio on a larger scale.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Magic at work

This is a bit of a teaser, as it's only a section of my painting from yesterday. I'm really struggling to get good photos, using the usual ipad/iPhone methods which is crazy as I have my brand new camera with me! Just need to knuckle down and start trying to use it :-)

This place at one side of the beach, when the tide is high and the summer sun is lowering is just sheer magic at work. Also you will see in the full painting that there is a gate leading to a hidden garden just above the rocks, which only adds to the thrill and mystery! I hope you don't mind my enthusiasm but I am in love with this scene. Needless to say I was back there tonight at the same time, and hopefully will be tomorrow too. Any day now as the tides and the weather and the sunset all change this particular magic will be gone, so I really must seize the moment!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Summer paradise

Sketching, painting, eating, reading and relaxing - I'm still here and still enjoying the lovely sunshine! I've been having lots of time away from the easel and also I've been tackling some tricky subjects such as this one. It's so easy to get away from it all on the island, it's like being on retreat. Having said that I am aware that my Royal Society of Marine Artists paintings were being judged in London today. Usually I'm able to more-or-less switch off until results day but not so today. One more day of wondering (agonising?) and then I'll know either way. Where has cool, calm and collected gone?! Maybe it's the heat...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Outgoing tide at Port Clos

Outgoing tide at Port Clos
Outgoing tide down at the port and outgoing visitors too. The people you can see in the painting are walking away from me, around the headland there and all the way to the third cale where the boat leaves the island at low tide.
I really enjoyed painting this, side by side with Lori. We climbed up on a big rock and were relatively undisturbed by onlookers up there! We remarked on how pleasant it is to paint boats when they are out of water, as they keep still for you. This is my largest painting so far this trip at 30 x 40 cms.
The day afterwards Lori was one of the people to leave the island, so now sadly I am back to painting toute seule. At least the sun is still shining!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cottage with blue shutters

Cottage with blue shutters
This house stands at a corner two or three minutes walk away from my house. I've walked past it many times and considered painting it but haven't. This year the flowers in the garden look particularly spectacular, in fact it's almost hidden by the flowers! I took Lori there and we both painted it, from different viewpoints. It's a very busy corner in summer and we attracted a lot of attention. It's also a very popular corner for people getting lost and stopping to study their maps.

The manoir with hollyhocks

Manoir with hollyhocks
I knew this would be a difficult subject to tackle, in fact I didn't know where to start at first. The manor house building is very large, tall and imposing but I wanted to have the distant views featured in the painting so I chose to show just the bottom left hand corner of the large building. As well as the sky and sea in the distance I loved those hollyhock flowers peeping out in front of the dark wall, catching the light. The main star of the show, however, was that light edge along the top of the wall. I'm really pleased with how it turned out :-)
Oils 12" x 12"

Monday, August 12, 2013

Wish you were here!

Wish you were here!
Here's a photo of me painting yesterday evening, taken by my daughter Milly. Lori and I were working really fast as the tide was coming in rapidly!
Just before this seascape I was tackling a local manoir with backlighting and distant views to contend with. Such a challenge and fun, I will show you that soon. I have my brand new camera with me that I need to learn how to use, then hopefully I'll do a much better job of photographing my paintings!
By the way if you are interested in owning any of these Bréhat summer paintings drop me an email, while I'm still here and in relaxed summer mode would be great! ;-)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The flowering rock

Cottage with agapanthus flowers
At around 1950 an American modernist painter called Frank Kleinholz lived on the island of Bréhat for a while with his family. A book of his sketches was published sometime afterwards called île de Bréhat - the flowering rock. The book is long since out of print but I would love to get hold of one. Maybe one of my US friends can help? I can't find it anywhere in the UK!
The flowering rock is a really great description of the island, where there is pink granite and flowers almost everywhere you look! At this time of year the agapanthus and hydrangea flowers are the most obvious, gorgeous abundant blooms of pink and lilac, plus there are roses, lavender, geraniums and marguerites.
We've had a floral kind of day, Lori and I. After a lazy morning we first painted a beautiful cottage hidden amongst it's flowers, and then we came here to île nord to paint 'les agapanthes'. I knew this would be a difficult subject with the house in shadow, looking towards the sun, but it excited me so I had to give it a go. My biggest challenge was to try and get a feeling of translucency with the light glowing through the leaves and flowers. I have to say, I'm fairly satisfied that I did achieve it!
Just so you know, the strange marks in the sky are not on the painting. They are shadows from pieces of grass as I had the board laying on the ground when I took the photograph! Sorry about that!
This oil painting measures about 10" x 12" and is available for purchase as soon as it's dry so if you are interested please message me about it and it could very soon be in your home :-)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Sails up in harbour

Sails up in harbour
Glorious weather again today, and a day away from the oil paints. I had the luxury of three hours 'waiting time' in Paimpol which I was happy to turn into sketching time at the harbour.
This is my fourth and final drawing of the same scene, and by this one I felt I was getting somewhere!
I was elated when the red sail was raised on that boat, do you know that? Just elated!
I would have completely missed that if I hadn't been sat there sketching. Stopped and watching and waiting. Absorbing the sights and sounds. Every time you snap a quick photo of a scene and move on you miss so much.
Also it was a lesson in perseverance. I struggled throughout the series of sketches and each one got better and closer.
And I feel a studio painting coming on!

If you are on twitter, you can find me there as @HaideeJoSummers
I am posting a drawing every day in August, along with many other people who are #drawingaugust. Today I posted all four!

And after all that sketching and two boules of ice cream I picked up my good friend Lori Putnam from the train station, and I'm very excited to show her the island and be able to paint together over the coming few days :-)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August on the island

Busy beach today!
Have now settled into our house on the island and I got out to the beach yesterday for two little paintings. I knew this one would be a difficult scene to tackle but believe that you have to take these risks in order to grow.
As the tide came in the beach got smaller and smaller and so of course more crowded as all the sunbathers moved up and up! I really wanted to describe the mass of people on the beach and in the sea without attempting to paint the individual figures. For the closest people, this side of the row of rocks I have paid more attention to the shape of individuals. Those on the other side of the rocks are just dots and dabs using a few choice colours, particularly a sun bronzed skin colour as I judged that to be the majority colour!
I think that you only need to provide so much information and then if your viewer stands a few feet away from the painting their brain fills in the rest and they see not the individual paint marks but a lot of people on a beach.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Chasing Albert

Painting in situ Portscatho harbour
Another one from my Cornwall trip. This is Portscatho on the Roseland peninsular. I had to move halfway through the painting because I was roasting hot in the sun, even though it was evening and I had my umbrella set up! I kept thinking it would cool off and it didn't, so eventually I found a place in the shade lower down. Phew! It was a relief to get this spot and take my shoes off and finish the painting barefoot.
I don't have a very good photo of this one because I framed it and left it in the gallery within a few hours of painting it :-)

It's called 'Chasing Albert' because I could hear a child calling the name Albert over and over again. Eventually I discovered that Albert and his sister were swimming in the harbour, and it was little brother standing on the jetty doing all the shouting!
Albert and sister made it into the painting.

Chasing Albert
Available to buy from the Harbour Gallery :-)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Party boat!

Waiting for regatta day
Oils 10" x 12"
I forgot to show you this one also from my trip to Cornwall in July, and it's one of my favourites! You know that I have a soft spot for flags and bunting don't you? I thought this little boat looked so jaunty, showing off that colourful regalia against the dark of the harbour wall and the deep reflections in the water. I couldn't resist!
As a sort of bonus or side order, I also love the area looking out to sea in the gap between the harbour walls. There was a bit of a sparkle going on there and I spotted it!

If you would like to own this painting it is currently on show at the Scarlet hotel in Cornwall, contact Mark at the Harbour Gallery for info :-)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sennen cove and new website

Evening light at Sennen Cove 8" x 10"
This is another one painted on my July trip to Cornwall, and already sold at the Scarlet hotel thanks to Mark at the Harbour Gallery :-)

Sennen cove is magical in the evening light, I definitely need more visits there. It is of course a place where Ken Howard has painted a lot over the years.

I found out some great news yesterday. All six of the paintings I've entered for the Royal Society of Marine Artists exhibition this year have been pre-selected. This means they've passed the first round of selection and now have to make their way down to the Mall galleries in London for the final selection round. Now don't get too excited just yet, because last year I had four make it through pre-selection but none of them actually made it to the walls!
Still, I think you should celebrate all little successes and I'm glad my entry has got thus far. I shall keep you informed...

And here's something worth celebrating! I've got a new website! Ok it's not brand new but it's as good as new after having spent a great many hours giving it a revamp! There's not a page on there that has been spared the overhaul, and lots of new pages too, so please go along and have a good old rummage through :-)

There'll be an online store to follow so I'll let you know when that all happens, and my blog has also had a freshen up so if you receive this by email you might like to go and take a look at blog base camp too, at

Friday, August 2, 2013

After the water spout, Eastpoint

After the water spout, Eastpoint
Oils 24" x 30"
This is a recently finished studio painting, based on sketches and photos from the plein air event in Florida. The early morning light was glorious and I had just finished painting the oyster boats facing towards the sun when I turned around and saw this subject right behind me! I wasn't able to paint it at the time but I thought it would make a perfect subject for my venture into studio paintings.

I started off with thin turpsy glazes of colour. I do enjoy doing more of this thinner work in a studio painting, because you have the luxury of being able to walk away and let it dry in between layers. 

The beginnings

Soon after establishing the mid tones and darks I wanted to put the sky colour in to get a better idea of how it would all be working together. The sky had to be dark enough to eventually show off that white side of the building that was lit by the rising sun.

Moving on
Nearly there
From then on it was a case of building up the darks and the lights, until the painting said what I wanted to say. I did at the last minute decide to add a figure and a car, but tried not to make them stand out in an obvious way. If you didn't even notice them, that's great!


It was important to me not to go too far and add all kinds of extra details that I wouldn't be bothered with if I was painting the subject 'en plein air'. The sketchy treatment of this foreground feature probably sums it up.

'Say what you need to say in the painting then get out. There is no use chattering on after you have made your point'

I never remember who said that, but I always remember those words!
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