Appearances can be deceptive: Painting Sunrises and Waterscapes

This was a painting of contradictions and contrasts that caused me a fair bit of brain-strain. If ever there was a painting to debunk the myth that artists simply ‘feel’ rather than ‘think’ their way through creating a piece, this was it.

Despite appearing to be a very simple scene, there are actually many details that could not merely be thrown down casually with the brush.

The early morning sunshine demanded the painting be imbued with a brightness, but given the low light at this time of day, details are not actually highly visible - so there was a lot that should be left out. (Oh, the dilemmas! Are you beginning to spring a few grey hairs in sympathy here?)

Another difficulty I encountered was capturing the stillness and the gentleness of the early morning light, while also wanting to throw my paint about energetically and not paint too tightly. Balancing this was really tricky.

The lack of highly textured surfaces (like long grasses, leaves, rocks or other foreground objects) compounded this issue to a degree, which is why I stuck with my very ‘chunky’ foreground brushstrokes; they add a bit of action without taking over the entire scene.

And then there was the desire to keep injecting more colour, tempered with the knowledge that without much light, things tend to look grey. For a colour junkie like myself, this took great restraint!

You’ll notice in my final photo below that some elements of the boat shed that I had initially painted in, I removed in favour of deepening the shadows to create better contrast for that lower lit mood.


‘First Light over North West Bay’ – Original oil painting on panel - 10 x 8” | 25 x 20cm – SOLD


This sun-bathing boat-shed taught me lessons a-plenty. One of which is that painting can be one of the fun ways to burn brain cells and grow grey hairs. What things do you enjoy challenging yourself with?