Rock pool, Summerleaze beach, Bude, Cornwall

It is strange where inspiration comes from, the above photo of a rock pool on Summerleaze beach in Bude in Cornwall set me off on a series of paintings about rocks (but that is a whole other story). Rocks are usually the background, the boring bit, if they are in a painting at all but when they are the focus of the work they appear very abstract.  The colours are never what you think they are going to be, they’re not all brown and grey, the range of textures is enormous and more you look the more interesting they become.

In this blog I thought I would briefly explain how I went about painting this rock pool. I will appologise now for the quality of some of the photos, they are taken as I work so are not always the best and of course I can’t go back and redo them.


My initial drawings are done with watercolour pencil, usually a light brown or purple, so that when the paint is applied the lines will soften or even disappear. The paper is Bockingford 140lb NOT watercolour paper.


To begin I like to fill in a few blocks with light watercolour washes, with a subject like this it helps to navigate, it is easy to get lost among the lines. The foreground  I leave until later so that  I don’t damage it while painting the rest.


Keeping the paint quite weak I loosely fill in the rest of the space and rub a few dry areas with wax so that later paint layers will reveal some texture.


The next stage is to add the shadows using cooler colours and darker tints of the rock colours to suggest little indents. I try to work as wet as possible to avoid any hard lines, a spray bottle of clean water is useful for this but if any hard lines do develop they can be worked on once they have dried using clean water on a brush.


When the background is dry I repeat the process for the front


To finish up I strengthen any shadows that need it, add touches of white reflections and add a little warmer colour to the foreground. I tidied up the top by using the dark shadow colour, it helped to balance the picture and prevented me from adding unnecessary detail.


Other Rocks

One thought on “Rocks

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