Porto Heli (πορτο χελι) Greece

Porto  Heli  watercolour   copyright Elizabeth Tyler 2013

The subject for this watercolour painting, I have just finished, is unusual for me in that it is seen from a further distance than I normally choose. I've taken a pause from the close up, in detail, frogs eye views I often become totally absorbed in.
As the view is seen from a boat the sea makes up most of the foreground as opposed to more traditional paintings of coastal towns where the sea is in the background.
Painting in a boat has it's problems of course. The repetitive rocking motion of the boat isn't a great problem as long as it is caused by a light breeze with soft small waves. Your body and brain compensates so you don't even think about it. When the wind really gets up to something near gale force or when a motor yacht charges by at full speed ploughing through the water like a bulldozer, that's a problem.
The other problem in this case was a very high motor boat that moored in front of me, taking my view. I had to wait for the wind to change direction before I could get a glimpse of my subject again.
Sitting in the cockpit trying to get the last details done.

My subject on th left, the obstruction in the middle, my boat "Aquarella" on the right.

Near and far.

 Pebble shore                                             watercolour 36 X 46 cm                  © Elizabeth Tyler 2013
The muddy water of the harbour, where my boat is moored right now, isn't so inspiring so I took a long walk on the beach far away where the water wasn't so polluted (as it unfortunately often is here in Greece). At last both the colour of the pebbles and the water itself was clearer and all the colours came to life. It was late afternoon, the wind had dropped and the waves had turned to ripples, slowly washing ashore. I chose a very low viewpoint in order to get a close look at the stones at the same time as being able to include the sea as a backdrop.
The challenge here was to be able to create the impression of depth and distance. I wanted the background very soft and diffuse but still keeping the foreground extremely sharp and detailed. I often try to use this effect when painting both watercolours and acrylics but it's equally challenging every time.
The water was very shallow, barely covering the stones, but even so the blue colour was really intense, reflecting the late afternoon sky.
In the painting all the stones and the foreground were masked first with Art Masking Fluid so that the water could be painted freely. Prussian blue and Winsor blue (red shade) were used, plus a touch of burnt sienna where the waves stir up the sea bed.
At first I had painted the stones in the water too clearly and defined so they looked like they were lying on the water instead of in the water.
So I went about scrubbing all the edges with a trimmed, wet hoghair brush. The streaks of white in the water were done in the same way. I finished off by drawing lines with a white aquarelle pencil. These lines were also scrubbed to soften the impression and create distance.
Softening edges with a trimmed hoghair brush


Same, same but different.

Pebbles           watercolour 25 x 45 cm                        © Elizabeth Tyler 2013
A pebble beach with multicoloured stones can be found anywhere in the world and it is a favourite subject I often return to. In Greece the water is so clear it's almost invisible, resulting in soggy, wet sandals when I'm walking along the waterline. It is of course right here the wet stones are at their best and most colourful. Many is the time when I have collected a few, only to be disappointed on getting home to find them dry, dull and non-descript.
In this watercolour I wanted to show the enormous diversity of the pebbles and stones. Not only in colour but shapes and sizes, surface textures and markings. Even the sand under the ripples of water is not just yellow but has it's own special character and is after all a compromised collection of minute and microscopic pebbles with similar colours.