Welcome to the first post in my Diary of a Painting series, where I will explore why I created a particular painting and the thought and creative processes behind it. To start things off we have one of my favourites: The Seven Sisters.
Who wouldn’t want to paint this iconic view? But that was the main reason why I was reluctant to paint it – it’s been done. A lot! There were other reasons, which I’ll touch on later, but ultimately it was a no-brainer for me. I just HAD to paint it!
I’m lucky enough to live just a short drive away, and the Seven Sisters, Beachy Head, and the wider Cuckmere Haven and Seaford Head areas have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have so many fond memories. From rock pooling and marvelling at the old WWII fortifications as a kid (I still do if I’m honest), to walks with my dog and merely finding some peace from the mad modern world as an adult. I can’t begin to wonder how much time I’ve spent there, or how many miles I’ve walked over the years. It’s a special place. So special that my Father in law’s ashes were scattered there. Its history and sheer beauty never fail to captivate me, even now.
With all that in mind, I was still reluctant. Mainly because of my own perception of my skill, or lack thereof. If I was going to paint this scene I needed to do it justice, in my own head or otherwise. I wasn’t confident enough to paint what I saw in my mind. I mean, jeez, how would I ever be able to condense down all of my memories and feelings into a painting!?!
I second-guessed myself like this for ages and, as is my way, built it up to be this massive hurdle that I kept talking myself out of. In the end, as is good for many situations in life, I just said “F**k it” and started painting.
The painting started with a sketch that was loosely based on a photo I took years ago (I was, and still am, really into my photography) which helped to get some of the proportions and finer details like the chimneys right. The photo was then set to one side and referred back to occasionally for reference or light and colour ideas. I primarily used oil and acrylic to create this painting, with a few other techniques and mediums thrown in along the way to get the effect I was after. Along the way I made quite a few creative choices, for better or for worse, as you’ll be able to see in the time-lapse video:
There are certain areas that I reworked repeatedly until I was happy, and in the end, it simply got to the point where I needed to stop. I’m sure filmmakers experience the same thing. How much longer do you tinker with your vision when, ultimately, it’s pretty much finished? Who knows, maybe one day I’ll release the Director’s Cut of this painting!
Now I’m not saying that the end result is perfect, I can spot several things that I could change or improve, and perhaps, as a painting, my naivety shows through a bit. However, in terms of showing what was in my mind’s eye, it’s spot on. The beautiful sunny day, the blue skies, the lush grass, the gentle sound of the waves in the background. Maybe even a light breeze. All wrapped up in the slightly fuzzy nostalgia that all the best memories are.
It took me ages to convince myself to paint this scene, and probably just as long to finish it. I’m more than happy with it. It’s a very personal account of what I see when I think of this beautiful place.
Hopefully, you like it too.
All the best,
This painting is available to purchase from my shop as a print. Either unframed, fully framed and ready to hang, or as a canvas or greeting card.