May’s Painting Project: Stormy Camus Mor Bay

Camus Mor on the northwestern tip of the Trotternish Peninsula is one of my favourite spots for painting and sketching as well as simply sitting to listen to and watch the sea. In stormy weather it’s quite different, with waves thundering onto the shore and crashing up against the cliffs, beneath dark skies. The starting point for this month’s painting project is a photo I took on a day the wind was so strong I had trouble standing still enough to get an in-focus photo.

Here’s a closer view of the waves, which lend themselves to vigorous brushmarks and texture paste.

Here’s the photograph lightened and with the colour saturation turned way up. It gives colours we might use to create a foreground that’s colourful, for working with exaggerated or emphasised colours rather than more muted. I could see these used as underpainting colours or for final layers. I can also see them being used in a mostly black-and-white painting as tiny touches of colour.

I think it’s a landscape/seascape that lends itself to any medium, and could be done with a muted palette and lots of strong darks, with exaggerated/emphasised colour in the foreground where there’s a jumble of vegetation, with texture paste to literally give depth to the turbulent sea, with inks or watercolours wet-into-wet for expressive clouds and sea.

You might edit out the houses to eliminate the human prescence in the landscape (even if you don’t, I’d leave out the bit of caravan on the right). You might change the format of your composition from the horizontal of the reference photo to a vertical, or to a square. Watch out for the size of the gap between the distant headland and the edge of the canvas. I think it’s a bit too close to the edge in my photo and wants a bit more breathing space; alternatively, take it definitely off the edge.


As always, you’re invited to submit your painting(s) to me by email or on social media, for sharing in the project’s photo gallery. And reminded that there’s no time limit on doing any of the projects; simply share what you’ve done and I’ll add it to the next gallery.

I haven’t painted this myself yet, but here’s a painting done in my very first workshop at Higham Hall by Margaret, working from my very first photo reference book. If you look closely you’ll see it was done on an orange ground, and how this adds a pop to the colours in the sea in particular. Artistic licence was used to change the foreground to rocks:

Higham Hall Workshop: Student Work on Orange Ground

If the location seems familiar, it may be because another part of it was the subject of a previous project: see Camus Mor Rocks Project Instructions and the Project Photo Gallery.


A quick search in my website’s engine-room tells me I’ve nearly 20 blogs about being at Camus Mor. These are some of my favourites:

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