Bamburgh Castle is instantly recognizable once seen, rising above the wonderful dunes and beach on the Northumbrian coast of the UK.
I had the good fortune to secure another week's painting holiday with all my new outdoor painting kit and this painting was one of the first I made while there. The castle silhouette sits darkly over the sun washed beach. It often is silhouetted when seen from the North against the sunlit sky. The light catches on the white top of the remainder of a windmill, built within the castle's grounds – the light often seems to. I always love the way the castle hugs the contour of its mound, almost appearing to tumble toward the beach from this angle.
The view from the North is the most iconic in my view. No wonder so many photographers and artists have photographed and painted it. I set up my plein-air easel just in the dunes, sitting slightly elevated above the beach. Though the weather was not the warmest, I'd found an idyllic sunny spot, with a sun washed beach stretching out in front of me – an epic classical landscape if ever there was.
- Image size: 25.4cm x 30.5cm (10" x 12")
- Medium: oil
- Ground: canvas panel
This modest oil painting painted while sitting in the dunes has been painted using a classical approach, called Alla Prima. What that means is that the paint is applied thinly and without a lot of blending. Brushes loaded with oil paint are placed on the canvas and a simple stroke of paint is applied. It's also often called 'direct painting'. If the mark is not right, then another is placed over the top, though the aim is to get it right first time of course.
The sky was worked quickly, which is the point of working Alla Prima. The light on the day was changing all the time and often in dramatic ways. There were clouds blowing across the scene which in one instant threw swathes of the landscape into darkness. Then in another instant the whole scene would light up again. I was so tempted with every change to change the painting! This would not have been a good idea because the painting would have been overworked all too quickly so I had to hold to my original intention when I set up to paint. Painting outside is such a challenge. I'm still learning.
I've published this painting as it arrived home. It needs a little 'tickle' after which I'll update this page, include some more photos of it and make it available to buy.