Rob Adams a Painter's Blog painter's progress

July 15, 2010

Pembrokeshire Painting

Filed under: Painting,Uncategorized,Wales — Tags: , , , , , , — Rob Adams @ 2:48 pm

My first purely painting expedition of the year. I find alas that it is hard to get down to painting when in company. Painting is a selfish activity, best carried out in solitude. Also very few people want to sit in the rain for an hour in an uncomfortable corner of a field! I’m based in Newport Pembrokeshire staying at my sister in law Judy’s bungalow which sits high above the bay. I often find it very hard to settle down to a scene and paint and often drive and walk for many hours before settling on a subject. The early morning and late evening are always good but I like the challenge of making a picture out of unpromising light or difficult conditions. Once you start there are always unexpected beauties that you discover as you work and hopefully these make the result worthwhile.

wales path coast paint

This was painted at the end of a very grey day, suddenly at 9.30 in the evening the light improved so I went down to the sea try to and catch the mood. I had to settle very quickly as I only had about half an hour of light… and the rain started as soon as my easel was set up. In conditions like that I try to deal with each area in turn finishing in a single pass, but being very careful to get the values as right as I can, though when the light is fading so fast these can be very hard to judge.


river newport wales

Most of the day spent walking with friends. I did stop to do a quick water colour from this spot but it all went horribly wrong so when the evening light became beautiful at the very end of the day I rushed out to get my revenge! This was done at 10pm and I only really had  15 minutes, the colour of the water was amazing and if anything I have toned it down. I tried to keep the brush work fluid and put in only enough to suggest forms. I have to report that Welsh mosquitos laugh in the face of “Jungle Formula” and the light had so far gone by the time I had finished that navigating the marsh loaded down with painting gear was distinctly tricky.


tree wales painting nevern

My first full day painting, I decided to paint inland as the light was quite flat and hazy. I went to Nevern a small village that is named after the river running through it. I decided to take a path that the map showed followed the river, but before I had hardly started I came across this fine tree which had lovely strong tones. I tried to get the balance of detail to focus on the tree, dealing with the background shrubbery in a fairly cursory way.


wales nevern river painting

After a fair bit of up hill and down dale I reached the river. A fallen tree had tumbled into the Nevern and it allowed me to sit almost almost mid stream. I just worked with my pochade box on my knees. River scenes like this are very tricky to sketch as the detail is almost overwhelming. Sure enough I was soon battling against putting too much into the trees, painting like fury when the sun came out as it was only then the scene came to life. Wooded subjects like this are often good in middle of the day light when other scenes would be too flat to be interesting. After 45 min I called a halt as I was in grave danger of tumbling off my perch into the flood.


river wales nevern painting

The path followed the river for short distances then climbed up steeply before dropping down, I had covered about 7 miles and my pack which weighs nearly 23 lbs was getting heavy. I was pleased to find this scene which made a better composition than the last one. I try not to force plein air sketches into a formal composition, that’s better done in a studio panting I feel, so I just try and get it down as simply and honestly as I can. Here I made a conscious effort to simplify the blizzard of foliage and pull out the broad areas of light. This requires a lot of squinting that makes passers by think you are mad as a herring.


tenby Wales boat sea painting

A visit to Tenby on a scorcher of a day. I often find it hard to find subjects I like in beautiful sunny weather, but after a pleasant wander round the town I settled down to paint this. I did it on a slightly larger board, usually I use 10in by 7 or 8 but this was twice that. Getting the tones of the town high above the harbour was distinctly tricky, in reality as the day was very clear the darks were nearly as strong as in the fishing boats but I wanted the boats to stand forward but not too much. The foreground was great to paint with lovely textures and values. I had to resist putting too much in. An insatiable desire for ice cream decided it was finished, but very few paintings were ever ruined by stopping early.


tenby pembrokeshire sea painting

After painting in Tenby I decided to explore the coast path a bit. I took watercolours only as I didn’t feel like hauling the full kit. The Pembrokeshire coast path is always a delight and I could have done a dozen paintings with each new vista open up worthy of a paint. I settled on this view of St Govan’s head. I’ve been rather neglecting watercolours of late but they are marvellous for catching the brilliant light, the photos I took don’t capture the scene half as well. Alas my little water jar of 20 years use, escaped and rolled off the cliff, now I will have to buy some overpriced condiment in order to get another jar of the right size!


Cardigan Wales Teifi river

A determinedly wet day of unremitting rain made painting unlikely, but when out shopping in Cardigan the veiw from the Supermarket car park took my eye. It’s often the case that the most unpromising of days throws up the best subject and these subtle tones and beautiful reflections just cried out to be painted. I got very very wet mind you. I left out half the boats to reinforce the feeling of calmness.


fishguard wales strumble sea

Another grand day, the met office seemed determined that it was going to pour down all day, but it was mostly bright with the sun and the clouds conspiring to shadow and light up the landscape in wonderful ways. This is Strumble Head near Fishguard. The wind was pretty fierce so I had to hang a rock from the easel to stop it being blown away. After doing this I walked on along the coast path with just my camera, the changes of light were just too fast to paint, but I got material that will make for a few studio based paintings on my walk.


  1. Nice pics- looks like u bin busy

    Comment by bro martin — July 17, 2010 @ 6:51 am

  2. Wooooooooow!!!!! Love them all, but it’s the supermarket car-park view that truly cries out to my sodden Irish soul. 😀 Love silver light on water.

    I’m in AWE! Have started trying to do a sketch a day but can’t imagine even being able to assemble a palette in 45 minutes. Horns, dude!

    Comment by Cathy — July 20, 2010 @ 5:32 pm

  3. Hi Rob, I must say these are terrific! I like your style of painting – very refreshing. I will send them on to Sue, Cheers, Mike

    Comment by Mike Jenkins — July 21, 2010 @ 12:04 pm

  4. Hello Robert,

    I would first like to say how impressed I am in seeing your very fine watercolors. I do look in on your website regularly, and continue to marvel at the fine work that you
    are doing. Well, done. Your paintings are filled with the energy that can only come from a diligence to the medium along with what is clearly a love of subject.

    Also, I would humbly like to thank you for including me on your list along with a group of very fine painters; many of which are on my list of favorites as well.

    All the best to you,
    Victor Schiro

    Comment by victor schiro — January 24, 2011 @ 1:16 am

  5. You have a great painting of Tenby harbour here. Of the three examples you show I like the middle (photoshopped) one the best. The larger expanse of soft water and the reflections of masts that resemble seagulls in flight have the effect of ‘depth of field’. Hence there is no distraction in the foreground from the details of the harbour. I can hardly paint at all, but I appreciate those who can, and you have certainly captured Tenby in an evocative way.

    Comment by Patrick Ovenden — November 25, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

  6. was vry influnced by ur sketches !!! would wish t2 hv colring sense nd knw a bit of tchniqs by ur paintings…

    kip it up man

    Comment by karim — December 21, 2011 @ 7:28 am

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