Green Island, Albany. Andy Dolphin.
Green Islands, Albany. Photo by Andy Dolphin.

Date: Thursday, August 16, 2012
Weather Forecast: Cold

The forecast for today was cold and cloudy. As it turned out, that was an understatement.

Despite the weather prediction, I had made the decision to return to my favourite seascape spot near Albany, Western Australia. When I arrived, it was a little bleak and blustery so I went for a walk to see how things looked. The wind was straight off the Antarctic.

But it wasn’t raining, and the surf was pumping, so I grabbed my French easel and found a spot where I thought I might be a little sheltered from the wind. I chose to sit on a rock, to further protect myself. This was to prove a mistake – it was soon uncomfortable. Note to self: “stand up next time”.

I sat painting for about one and a half hours. During that time the sun shone through exactly never. In some ways this was good because the scene before me never really changed. When there’s no sun, there’s no shadows to move as time goes by. And when the sunlight comes and goes, it can make painting difficult as the scene changes dramatically each time.

As I was finishing, I met a lovely bunch of people on holidays. Many photos were taken of each of them with my painting, including a group shot with me. Here’s where things ended up before I headed back to the warmth of my car. This is 255mm (10″) wide.

Plein Air seascape in oils, Albany. Andy Dolphin.

This section of coastline is deadly. There are warnings everywhere – although when I was here last week, a woman walked right down to the water’s edge, got very wet, and was lucky to walk back up again. I’ve seen the spot where she stood get swamped with deep water from big waves on occasion. She was hit by a relatively small wave.

On grey days like today, this bay looks every bit as threatening as it’s reputation.

Those breakers hitting the cliff face on the far side literally explode. The spray can hang in the air for four or five seconds, like it’s in slow motion. They are big waves. Sometimes an incoming wave meets one bouncing back off the shore and they explode unexpectedly in mid-water. It can get pretty crazy out there!

I’ve watched, photographed and videoed those explosions many, many times and today seemed like the perfect day for painting them.

Here’s a bit of detail from the focal point, so you can see the brushstrokes. Most of the work was done using two flat synthetic brushes with some fine detail added at the end with a rigger.

Plein Air seascape in oils, Albany. Detail. Andy Dolphin.

And here is the “yes, I really painted this on location” shot.

Plein Air seascape on location. Andy Dolphin.

I had planned to do two sketches on the one board, like I did when I painted here on Saturday, but it got colder while I was painting today and it felt like it was going to rain. So I went home.

I’ll continue with my “Genesis of a Seascape in oil” series soon.