Plein-air Painting at Spey Bay

I’d so enjoyed using pen and water-soluble ink again earlier this week that I decided to be optimistic about the forecast for showers as I decided on what supplies to take with me to a plein-air meetup at Spey Bay with the Moray Firth Sketchers. So I packed my pen with water-soluble ink, a few coloured pencils, and my bag with bottles of watercolours and inks. Besides, I remember that time I was in the woodland in Uig and the raindrops improved did interesting things to my drawing.

It was my first time at this location, and what a friend had said was indeed true: “You’ll like it there — lots and lots of stones and pebbles!” There’s pebble beach as far as you can see, with small enough pebbles for it to be relatively easy to walk on.

The nearby Dolphin Centre cafe had three choices of homebaked gluten-free free cake, so another level of happiness came with the purchase of takeaway cake and hot chocolate. The rain came in not long after I’d sat down to paint, so I quickly ate my cake to stop it getting soggy. After all, cake doesn’t dry out like watercolour paper or clothes.

The river provides another range of painting options
Are those clouds getting darker and heading this way…?

When the rain persisted, I retreated beneath some scraggly trees and did a drawing of branches instead, with the rain assisting in the mark making. Then Phil, who’s an accomplished watercolourist, had a go, heading with enthusiasm out of his comfort zone.

My drawing when it dried. A3.

The end result is quite abstract and expressive. My plan is to add some colour to re-find some trunks and branches, with watercolour and/or coloured pencil so it’s a bit easier for viewers to fathom what’s going on.

The rain stopped and I returned to where I had been sitting with a view of the river.

I started with an ink drawing, using artistic licence to move some elements closer together. Next time I must get a much wider sheet of paper. Then I used a waterbrush to spread the ink, added some watercolour and coloured pencil.

Water soluble ink in a fude pen (the drawing pen with the bent nib)
Mixed media. A3 size watercolour paper, 350gsm

I next decided to have a go at the dramatic clouds, turning the sheet vertical to give me lots of space for sky. I started with Payne’s grey ink, then decided to add some purple to increase the drama. A bit of back and forth with extra ink and dabbing with paper towel, pulling it down at the bottom for the rainshower, and I got it to a point I was happy with. As I’d been doing this a family had started their picnic lunch next to a nearby log, their warm coats giving a splash of bright yellow and blue. I don’t usually add figures in my landscapes but couldn’t resist being able to add the colour and sense of scale.

When I was packing up they came across and said they noticed I’d put them in my painting and asked if they could buy it. So to my delight it’s going to French Canada.

My smile says everything about how much I enjoyed the day and my hair everything about the weather
A first for me: swans in the sea. Also saw a seal in the river and a duck with a string of ducklings swimming behind her

4 Replies to “Plein-air Painting at Spey Bay”

  1. Glad you got out despite the threatening skies! Love the loose look of these pieces.

  2. What a wonderful day you had and then recorded it in ink and writing
    Thanks for sharing I like reading your blogs. It inspires me. I paint plein air every wednesday with my group in South Delta BC

    1. Delighted you enjoy reading my blogs! I thoroughly enjoy painting on location, though ideally with less showery weather than on this day.

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