Limited Colour Palette Watercolour at Bow Fiddle Rock

Bow Fiddle Rock is simultaneously inspiring and intimidating because it’s such a recognisable landmark. The last time I painted there was nearly a year ago, in August 2022 (see photo below), and before that June 2019 (see this blog post).

From August 2022. Acrylic on three sheets of A3 watercolour paper taped together, and primed with gesso in adance to give a bit of surface texture

This time I was in the company of members of the Moray Firth Sketchers, and as always it was interesting to see their results (photos on the Facebook group here) and the viewpoints chosen.

The tide was starting to come in, and I found I was enjoying the movement of the water along the channel in the big rocks in the foreground, perhaps even more than the dramatic shapes of Bow Fiddle Rock. So I picked a spot on the pebbles before they drop down steeply to the water’s edge that gave me a good view of this.

If you’re familiar with the branding of UK supermarkets, you’ll know where that orange bag my paint supplies are in came from. That little bit of green foam makes a huge different to comfort levels sitting on the rocks.

I had brought my zip-up case of favourite drawing pencils/pens, plus some of my liquid watercolour bottles having selected only a few colours at home with the steep walk back up the hill from the beach in mind. I knew that Lunar Black, Hematite Geniune, and Soladite Genuine Blue would give me the fundamental colours I needed for the sea and rocks. A bottle of white acrylic would give me the sea foam.

For some reason I’d also thrown in a roll of masking tape, and I was glad I did because sitting on location I had the urge to paint larger and could tape two A3 sheets together. The first painting I started with hematite watercolour, but felt I was getting a little lost as to where things were so I swapped to pencil to feel my way around the forground, using different marks for the rocks and pebbles.

Next I added some blue for the water, to differentiate the water/rocks/sky areas.

Then I went back to the rocks with hematite and Lunar black, aiming to add a sense of shadow and separate the foreground rocks from the fiddle.

I stopped here to let the watercolour dry, then decided I was pleased with the energy to the painting and the risk of losing this was too great if I continued. So I put it aside and taped together two more sheets. This time I started with pencil.

I added blue to the sea, using the silicone ‘paint brush’ to try and get a sense of the white wave edges of the incoming tide. Applying the colours in a different order to my first painting prevents the sense of duplicating myself. I took the blue right up to the pencil lines depicting the edges of the rocks with the thought that I would wait for this to dry and then paint the rocks. (In my first painting, I’d tried not to get the blue too close to the rock colours in case parts were still wet and would thus run into the sea.)

I used predominantly Lunar Black on the left of the fiddle rocks because it was now in the shade. I should have added more colour to the arm or ‘elephant trunk’ in the top right corner, and might still do this. In the foreground, I added some white acrylic to the incoming water.

And finally a little splattered colour for some pebbles.

Which is your favourite? Left or right? Post in the comments section below to let me know. I’m hard pressed to choose myself.

Look Ma, I’m being sensible and wearing my wide-brimmed sunhat!

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