Energy III

In June, I spent a morning on the rocky island of Fidra.  A worn paved roadway, with rail tracks and rusting winding gear, rises from the small harbour to the lighthouse.  Everywhere are herring gulls, and at that time, herring gull chicks. Though we saw they cannibalised their own, we were careful where we trod and stayed still for long periods to minimise the disturbance.

Here I sat on the path looking down on the gulls hanging on the wind over the Forth and the mainland beyond.

Gulls hanging in the wind

Gulls hanging in the wind

This version has been edited, bringing in warm colours in the foreground and working, and reworking the gulls the achieve contrast.  I scraped away the line of rock in the mid ground on the left.

Field sketch - Fidra

Field sketch – Fidra

Part way through, I was bombed by a gull, on my hat and scoring a direct hit on the paper.  Interestingly, the guano forms a resist, scattering the paint in a lively way at certain points in the picture.

Greg Poole had pointed out how the rocks on the left seemed stuck to the wall that in reality was in front and higher.  He asked whether I needed to connect this spur to the island with paint, however it appeared to the eye.

However, his key comments were on how the energy flowed through the composition.

Energy flows in composition

These were the comments:

As I painted to the edge of the paper or to the clips holding it to the board, I pulled back the brush (open arrows).  This loses the connection of the subject to its surroundings and dissipates the energy of the composition.  Interestingly, the large blank spaces at both bottom corners hold the picture’s energy because the brush strokes are moving to the centre from the edge (solid arrows) though again perhaps I should have continued the strokes to the lower edge.  Of course I can crop the picture, but even then the strokes within the retained picture have been restrained and diminished.

One response to “Energy III

  1. Thanks for the commentary. Yes the energy of this is great. When I looked at the image that came up my first thought was “this could be painting with chocolate, as I have posted recently on my blog (

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