I recently completed this small 5" x 7" oil of the sea at Shek O in Hong Kong. We had earlier walked the Dragons Back trail that takes you up over the mountain nearby then around the side and down to Big Wave Bay. From there, it is a short walk over to Shek O. The main beach there is not so interesting to me as it lacks character so we prefer the walk through the village to the headland where there are many amazing rock formations. This area is a favored site for wedding photos and we usually see small wedding parties there with various photographers in tow.
The waves can be quite spectacular in the bay (by Hong Kong standards) so apart from the small village charm, it can be a great place to visit and get some inspiration. We prefer middle-of-the-week visits as otherwise the place can be packed (especially in summer). So a great place to go for lunch, to swim or in my case, to draw and paint!
I saw this abandoned house as I walked through the fishing village of Tai O on Lantau Island, Hong Kong. A popular tourist destination, we usually visit Lantau whenever we go back to Hong Kong. We go to see the giant Buddah and also to Tai O, mainly for the atmosphere and lovely sea views as this is one of the few villages that still retains some of its character and charm. Most places like this have been razed in the name of progress or left to rot and ruin - shame really. So glad I documented many of these old villages over the years both in my sketchbooks and on film.
Initially this painting was supposed to be a small study for a larger work but I ended up doing far more work to it than I intended - no matter.
For me, the interest initially was in the way the afternoon sun cast a strong shadow across the building. I loved the way the shadowy interior contrasted with the sunlit portion of the wall and floor. The bright fabric hanging on the right had been recently washed and was hanging out in the sun to dry. It created a nice colorful area in an somewhat monochromatic study - the small red incense holder just to the right of the door frame helped too.
Size of the painting is 11" x 7.5" (28cm x 19cm). Watercolor on hot-pressed Arches paper.
This is a recent painting done from our trip to Portugal. We spent about two weeks there travelling around and trying to see as much of the country as possible. Truly an amazing trip and are looking forward to going back. I enjoyed the South of Portugal the most especially along the Algarve which was stunning! I'll do a longer post on our trip once I have had time to finish off a few more paintings. This evening scene is set in a nature reserve close to where we were staying and completed what was for us a magical day. Size is 12" x 9" (30cm x 23cm), oil on canvas.
In my last post about Iceland I wrote that the paintings were to be the final ones from that trip but I have since been inspired to do a few more! The smaller study above was painted as I saw the clouds slowly coming over the top of a mountain that still had some areas of snow on it. I loved the contrast of the bright sun-lit mountain top against the blue sky and the shadowed lower slopes in the foreground. All the vistas from this area were quite magnificent as from where we sat, we had the mountainside behind us and incredible views across the fjord where more snow-capped ranges of mountains were laid out. Their tops drifted in and out of focus as clouds came and went. I'll add more of those paintings later.
This smaller study was done in my sketchbook from our hotel room which fortunately looked out over the coastline. As mentioned in an earlier post, the seas were incredible with light but driving rain and our walk on the beach consisted of hanging on to each other so we wouldn't be blown over while scrunching up our eyes to help keep out flying sand and small pebbles which stung when they hit. Later I did a small watercolor of this scene (Rough Seas - Vick) and drew heavily from this drawing while working on it (painting shown in an earlier post).
Here are the final paintings done from the Iceland trip. Some are unfinished unfortunately but I didn't get the time to work on these as I had wished. I'm sure that they will be worked up eventually and I'm also sure that I'll be doing more paintings from the trip later on.
There was still a lot of snow on the higher elevations as shown in this series of paintings and I have to say that I was quite captivated by the distant mountains swathed in snow and the lower regions more open showing how the moss had covered most of the lava. Next would come smaller bushes then dwarf trees etc slowly covering the landscape as we saw in other areas of Iceland.
I remember how some of the peaks would drift in and out of focus as clouds drifted across them and it is this effect that I would like to put into a large painting. This will take some thinking about first though and certainly more than a few pre-studies. Actually I consider many of the paintings shown here as pre-studies as I am better able to work out what it is I want to say in this smaller scale.
This work was completed after a portion of our trip was delayed due to bad weather and we arrived at a visitors center with only about half an hour to spend as we saw fit. I immediately headed outside and began jogging towards the glacier at the foot of the mountain shown above (although we were told not to go there as there wasn't enough time - still I thought I could make it). Well after about 30 seconds, the wind came up in such a way blowing directly at me that I was forced to a walking pace - and a slow one at that! Realizing that the Gods had spoken, I gave up my attempt to reach the glacier and continued at a slower pace looking around me at the various rocks and plants eventually making it back just in time to catch the coach onto our next stop.
While looking at and photographing the plants mentioned above, a Redwing slowly approached calling all the while. I kept still and was afforded amazing views as it passed just a few feet from where I sat. I did a few quick sketches and took more photos as I followed it about for awhile. The bird seemingly not at all worried by my presence.
So then, from incredible and towering mountains to black-sand beaches that spread as far as the eye could see, from grass sod houses to picture-perfect blue fjords, from desolate rocky coastline to foggy moors, from massive waterfalls to serene slow-moving streams, Iceland had all this and much more. Birding was incredible (although due to the weather we didn't see any Puffins) and there were many species either resident or on migration during the time we were there so I consider myself lucky to have visited at that time to see it all. I'm quite sure that there is still plenty left to see so I will go back some day, probably during the summer months next time.
A few more paintings from our Iceland trip. Most of these were done in my sketchbook during the day, a few of the oils were completed when back home in the studio. I have kept the oils smallish for two reasons: 1, working at this size allows me to complete a painting in a relatively short period of time (I have so many ideas for future paintings) and 2, if successful, they serve as studies for larger paintings. The clouds in this painting were just clearing the closest mountain but washing away the top of the more distant one. I loved the way the snow brought out all the ridges, valleys and the very structure of the land.
Eider Ducks were common along the coast and quite approachable. I was able to sketch and paint them from close-up noting many plumage details etc. Occasionally they would display with the male giving lovely cooing calls. Apart from some 2nd year birds, they were all paired up at this time of the year with the males in close attendance to the females at all times.
Almost as common but certainly not as tame were Great Black-backed Gulls. They looked magnificent while surfing the brisk winds we found in Iceland and were at times a welcome sight to a somewhat forlorn and severe landscape.
We stopped off in such a landscape as described above for a quick photo stop. It was still very cold in the wind and with intermittent rain. Higher up this precip fell as snow so most of the visible mountains were capped like the study done in my sketchbook shown here. Stunning was one way of describing the surrounding landscape. The glacier which appears in the lower right was some distance away but had drifts of snow and rain falling across it giving incredibly atmospheric views - something I hope to try and capture in a larger painting.
This larger oil was completed in the studio after we got back using the study I did of this scene shown in the last post. I tried hard with this one to more accurately capture the tones and colors of the mountains. Oh, to live and work in such a place!
I saw this scene from the bus as we drove by so was only able to do a quick watercolor study in my sketchbook. Sometimes these studies are the impetus for larger paintings - usually though they remain as studies only. I still value them though - sometimes more than my finished work! I have other works of Iceland in various stages of completion so must give up a few days soon to finish them all off.
Travelling has gotten in the way of Blogging! Our latest trip to Iceland was, simply put, incredible! So many beautiful scenes, places and images - I collected so much that I have about a lifetime of reference to choose from. I worked mostly in my sketchbook during the day and continued painting each evening when we got back to the hotel. The above study was the first one I did when I returned home to the studio - it is a small painting (5" x 7") but I'm happy that I captured the distant mountains with the covering of snow just as I remembered them.
We basically did the circle tour around Iceland but the weather when we arrived was rainy, cool and overcast. The winds increased so much that some roads were closed and we had to sit out in the hotel one morning until they re-opened the road. The previous evening, we had walked down to the beach shown in the painting above and were nearly blown over by the force of the winds - I have never experienced such rough weather! Amazingly just offshore were large flocks of seabirds seemingly in their element and the wind didn't seem to bother them much at all.
Fortunately the weather improved over the next few days until we had wonderful sunshine near the end. Birdlife was impressive as we visited during the early migration period. I had a few birds on my list that I really wanted to see and was happy that I saw most of them - including 3 Gyrfalcons! Pity we missed the puffins as the weather was too bad to visit their nesting sites. Equally impressive was the landscape which changed quite a bit as we circled the island. Apart from livestock, the only other mammals we saw were reindeer.
The Icelandic people were friendly and very helpful, our driver and guide exceptional. The girl in the watercolor above worked with horses and had a lovely voice. Other paintings of portraits and landscapes are to follow when I get the chance. I do plan to return to Iceland one of these days, probably in the summer this time to explore and further experience this wonderful place.
I am an artist living and working near Washington DC in the USA. I was born in the UK but have lived abroad most of my life. I paint mostly landscapes and birds but have many interests so you never know what will turn up. Most of the paintings shown here are for sale so please contact me at jeremypearse (at) gmail.com if interested. Thanks for visiting!