Penzance Harbour


I ment to post this a few weeks ago. Whilst I was working on landscape part of course I was dipping in and out of this drawing. Its based on a sketch of Penzance Harbour I made a few years back whilst waiting there for the train to London.

This drawing has been years in the making. I original ordered the canvas (there was a deal on two) for a painting of the yellow dog that still exist in  my head only up to this day. The canvas sat in there rappers for months unloved in the garage in till one day I decided to use them to paint waves after a trip walking in Cornwall. I came across a Gary Long wave painting in an exhibition. I feel for how he captured the power of the wave perfectly in this wave portrait and wanted to have a go myself. I begain this painting… then returned to it two years later to finish it of. It all went a bit wrong, hardly surprising as the scale was all wrong from the start. I know see the importance of pre planing with notes and sketches. I painted it over in Wight leaving some of the under painting showing through which leaves a nice texture.

I then thought hay, I’m on the drawing module, why not make a drawing? I remember being moved and impressed by Bacons pastel on canvas drawings. The thick clods of paint grabs the pastels in a pleasing way.

I pulled out the old sketch of Penzance thinking it connected both with the coastal waves underneath and the landscape module I was working on. I’v dipped in and out of this drawing. Working little bits here and there. It was fun to work big. Using the hole arm from the shoulder, even the torso sum times. As I worked I thought back to the work of Ben Nicolson, Alfred Willis, T.S Lowery, Joseph Malard Turner and Jock McFayden. In particular Alfred Willis for his limited pallets and nive style. I think Lowery came through in the windows. McFayden is all about the texture. I see in his paintings at the summer exhibition he puts a lot into creating the ground. No one dose drama and atmosphere like Turner. I tried to channel this, not very successfully.

I enjoyed working the pastel with wet rags to further increases the texture. I wanted it to have a vaguely dream like quality. At the time I was dreaming of moving down there to the coast (sigh). So the drawing is more my dream of Penzance based on the sketch than a true representation. This is why I tried to get the feeling of a sea mist coming in. To enhance the haziness of the idea.

I have moved some elements around such as the church to better fit the drawing. The limited pallet was purely to try and get a yellow wall and dull sort of dark turquoise well to get on in my flat. The colours have a disharmony (both on the walls and on in the painting). This makes the scene unwelcoming. My Mum said it looks like a ghost town. I would have to agree with her. 1980’s horror flick ‘The Fog’ Springs to mind!

I printed a few boat pics to help me get the bits in ruffly the right place, not being over familiar with there structure beyond the basic shape.

The best bit about it being chalk is I can wash it off and recycle the canvas’s if I fancy. But for now I’m going to stick it on the wall and see how it feels to live with.

The more I look it at the bridge looks unfinished. I remember now I was going to add a railing and some people there..


Making a ground for the wave. I now know a dark under painting such as this makes the painting dull. Best to go light for the ground.


Wave as it was for two years


Wave going very wronge


fresh start. Painting becomes good textural ground for soft pastel drawing.


Sketch of Penzance made whilst waiting for the train in 2012


Finished for now. 60 x 30 “





About Emma Perring

Artist, oil painter


  1. Emma – fantastic work! – you are very talented 🙂

  2. A wonderful painting – I love the atmosphere of the place – it feels so alive!

  3. Thank Arlene, bless you!
    How’s the painting coming along?

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