Staple Rock

At St Abbs Head, the rounded cliff tops fall away into grass-covered, steep inclines, which drop straight down to the rock-strewn sea.  Looking from on high, it appears that the sharp blade of Staple Rock is suspended over the waves, hanging there ready to drop and cut the sea in half.  A scramble down the scree allows access to a lower platform.  From this view point, the triangular stack is firmly rooted, its base visible through the water.

2014-07-14 St Abbs (1)

I covered board with charcoal and clawed back the tones and shapes first with my fingers and then with water and finally with layers of white acrylic.  I poured sepia calligraphic ink onto the central mass, squirted it from the water bottle and rocked the board until the ink settled and dried in the sun.  The darker tones were mixtures of sepia and paynes grey inks or charcoal.  Lastly, I used watercolour over the various tones created by acrylic white and charcoal for the sea and sky, grass and flowers, and the receding stained rocks at the back.

The distant sea was teeming with moving white specks, distant feeding gannets, added with a shake of the brush.

2014-07-14 St Abbs (2)

Here are the preliminary sketches from the same day, made first in ink lines, liberated with water to create the tones, and then in freehand watercolour.

2014-07-14 St Abbs (9)



10 responses to “Staple Rock

    • Thank you Maxine. I’ll be honest that viewing this on a backlit screen flatters it, but still I am pleased with how this turned out, as a piece of experimentation done on site, not in the studio.
      I am enjoying your regular visual updates on the tour de France.

    • Thanks Anne
      That was a good day. A warm sun and little wind and all day to paint in, with no passing spectators to make me self conscious. I knew the scene well too, having drawn it several times in previous years.
      Bouyed by this open air painting, I tried a similar technique with charcoal, white acrylic and ink on two other days. These are not yet posted but … well let’s just say they were not so successful. These will need fixing in the studio when I get time.

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