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Boat at Craster - Work in Progress

Photo of cobbled steps in Robin Hoods Bay that will be used for reference

I took the following Reference photo in the small village harbour of Craster in Northumberland when on holiday in the area a couple of years ago. Though I'd originally thought I'd like to paint it in watercolours I've decided to have a go with Pen & Ink.

The first step was to consider how much to include and how much to leave out. I think the scene is too complicated for a black and white ink drawing. I may make changes as the picture takes shape but I'm thinking I'll include the central buildings and the large central boat but leave out the peripheral buildings and smaller boats.

Image showing first stage of drawing

Having drawn out the outlines in very faint pencil (which aren't showing up in the photo) I will work from top left to bottom right. There's no real reason to do it this way with Pen & Ink but it's a habit I'm in from doing pencil drawings which smudge very easily if you rest your hand on drawn area's.

Image showing second stage of drawing

I've finished the buildings but almost had a serious problem..... the radio masts of the boat (just to the right of the rightmost windows). Working in ink it was essential for me to leave white paper for the masts. Fortunately I realised just before it was too late.

This has changed my opinion of what order to draw things in. I really can't afford to ink over anything that needs to be left white so I think I need to work from front to back. I'm going to start the boat next and then fill in the middle-ground afterwards.

Image showing third stage of drawing

So now I've moved onto the boat but I've messed up big time. Mistakes with ink are extremely difficult to correct and the more you try to do the more ink you're adding. I'm not happy with the shading lines on the hull as they are too scrappy but I can get away with them as being 'wood effect', however, hatching of the front part of the boat was a complete disaster and the more I tried to correct, the worse it became. I finally tried making it solid black but the uneven pen lines are making it look 'scribbled'.

This was a 'start again moment' but I've decided to see it through and see what the end result looks like. I'm hoping the stark blackness of the front hull section won't look quite so bad when I fill in the background and get other dark tones around it.

Image showing fourth stage of drawing

I have to say, although I'm enjoying doing this one ... a lot ... I can't help but think it's not going to turn out all that good in the end.

I've finished the boat and added the brickwork of the harbour wall. A lot of the boat detail is now getting lost in the dark brickwork. My attempt to draw as much detail as possible is resulting in too much ink even though I'm using my finest pen (005). This is going to end up much, much darker than I'd ever intended.

Can I add that I'm NOT disheartened nor disappointed in my work .... my comments are merely me trying to share my experience working with such an unforgiving medium. ;)

Image showing fifth stage of drawing

I've now added the boulders and the shrubbery between them and the wall. I found the boulders quite challenging because I needed to give them dimension and form. At one stage I found they were looking just like a jumble of flat irregular shapes. I'm thinking now that they're looking more 'solid' and I may do a bit more to them during the final touches depending on how they look as a part of the whole scene.

Image showing sixth stage of drawing

I'm thinking this is just about finished now. I may do a little fiddling by way of adding a few more darker tones around the rocks and pebbles to give them depth, and also under the boat which could do with the shadow being a little darker, but apart from that, it's done.

The jet black hull still offends my eye but nowhere near as much as it did in the beginning. Putting in the foreground has brought forward the boat and it looks less 'attached' to the wall than it did. Overall I'm quite pleased. .

Image showing seventh stage of drawing

So this is the finished drawing. In order to balance up the tones a little I've darkened the shadows under the boat and added more darks to the boulder and rock area behind the boat .... and of course I've had to add the obligatory sea gulls.

I've left white paper in the lower left corner where the sand and sea should be, and in the upper right corner where the road and other buildings should be. At the moment I'm not sure whether this adds or takes away from the scene.

Materials Used