Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia, is the main by-the-sea playground for Melbourne holidaymakers. The lee side of the peninsula’s many varied and clean beaches is Port Phillip Bay, and the ocean side offers excellent surf. Most photographed is London Bridge at Portsea surf beach. There is only one high vantage point from which the numerous tourists can photograph. I wanted to paint this icon but enhance it beyond “just taking a photo” and make it worthy to hang on a devotee’s wall.
My Design Strategy
To create a comprehensive “design” of the location and desirable appearance, I took 10 photographs and a romantic sky, the coloring of which I would adapt to the whole painting. The whole scene covers a wide angle, but the distant lighthouse and small islands have been enlarged to a normal human eye aspect.
There are two arches through the “bridge” but only one can be seen from this angle. Leaving the fenced-in viewing area is not allowed so I applied artists’ license to show both arches from this angle. The other license I took was moving the tiny waterfall to the right of the “bridge” into view and rearranging the foreground a touch.
My Working Process
Starting by completing the sky to set my palette, I then blocked in all dark areas to set the tonal extremes. At that stage I underpainted or completed each of the remaining areas from all photographs, most of which were shot on an overcast day. The surf running off the rock, the water flow through the cave, the seaweed seen through the ripples, the orange reflections of the sunset and the breakers are painted partly from reference, and partly from the romantic part of my mind and the enhancing oil colours on my palette.
The most important message to beginners: Start to learn by copying from life or photographs meticulously; advance by copying other artists’ work to learn the improvements that artists make (not to offer for sale, just to learn from); then set off to paint for yourself, not slavishly copying photographs (yawn), but by developing your own creative instincts.
Email: [email protected] Website: www.lanceross.com.au
Victoria, Australia, London Bridge, Portsea, Victoria, Austrlia, oil, 20 x 30" (51 x 76 cm)