Godrevy Lighthouse, St Ives Bay
With an Art Studio move to the Sea!
A few weeks ago, on the first wave of lockdown easing, we had a chance to explore and meet some of our new neighbours.
They had grey fur, hidden ears, and love fish.
Looking down into Mutton Cove is a grey seal colony, close to the South West Coast Path.
After years of painting trips and holidays and a rollercoaster of a property search, we’d finally found our dream studio in Cornwall.
Let’s call it a project.
It hasn’t been used as a studio for the past 15 years or a home for at least 10 and has an eclectic range of buildings that Vanessa will have to perform her interior magic on.
So far there has been really amazing light, large amounts of ice cream and late-night beach sundowners, alongside leaking roofs, invasive ivy, copious amounts of whitewashing, and many, many skips.
But, amongst all this, is an absolutely epic space that was once the working studio of Royal Academy artist Sandra Blow. It does feel a real privilege to be able to bring this building back to life, as an artist studio for myself and a ceramic studio for Vanessa.
I’ll have some more studio shots soon to show the progress on the renovations but until then I have been enjoying being outdoors and discovering new landscapes.
Godrevy, St Ives Bay
Spectacular coves, long, sandy beaches, and just offshore is Godrevy Island with a lighthouse. Simple in shape, a classic motif of a lighthouse, that breaks the horizon and can be seen from many miles away.
On the northern side of the headland is Mutton Cove, home to a large grey seal colony which you can see from the clifftops.
As a child, Virginia Woolf spent long summer holidays at the family home in St Ives, with a view towards this bay and it is said to be the inspiration for her novel To the Lighthouse, and the photo above was on the walk up to it.
You’ve got this fantastic crescent shape that goes into the cliffs, and then the dark shape of the rocks in the foreground. Lighthouses can be great subjects to paint in a landscape because the dash of white helps to add contrast and focus. It reminded me of Scotland and some of the views around the Isle of Skye.
Loved how this was just one isolated surfer, right in the centre of the frame, set against the enormity of the ocean.
The surfer was running full pelt to get into the water. You’ve got this curve underneath the rocks that frames him perfectly and the iconic shape of a surfboard gives a great silhouette. It’s amazing how small this is in the frame, but you can still get a sense of the enormity of the sea.
I like how the clouds have patterned the sky like a potato print, and all these tufts and texture of the grass in the foreground echo that pattern.
This is just around the corner from Mutton Cove, it’s an incredibly exhilarating cliff-top walk with fabulous ocean views and rocks breaking in the surf.
7 Principles that create a successful landscape sketch
Boardwalk to Godrevy Lighthouse, Will Kemp
When you’re deciding on a subject to sketch, I find having a few general guidelines really help, below are my 7 principles that help to create a successful landscape sketch.
#1. Proportion & Scale – Looking for a variety of shapes, spaces, and scale to add depth and perspective to your drawing.
So I’m always looking for a range of scale and a variety of shapes, ideally, the same objects that are similar in size if they were placed next to each other, but give the illusion of scale and depth when they’re set within a scene.
For example, if you had 10 fenceposts, they would get progressively smaller into the distance, so that gives you the sense of scale. In my drawing above, we’ve got the boardwalk. The planks are all the same width but they get progressively smaller in the drawing which sends your eye right into the distance.
#2. Composition – Taking the eye for a walk – bringing the viewer into the page rather than across the page.
In the drawing, there are two different things.
The first is the boardwalk, which leads your eye in, and then there’s the coastline on the left, which also leads your eye in. A couple of figures in the distance act like a full stop to your eye. So it rests on that focal point before going onto the lighthouse in the distance.
#3. Light & Shadow – Being aware of the foreground, midground & background – creating distance and contrasting values.
Because I’ve done this sketch in pen, only using black and white, it’s harder to see differences in tonal value. This principle is more to be aware of if you’re going to painting the scene. If I were to paint it, the Lighthouse would be more subtle with lighter values than the stronger contrasts in the foreground. That would help to give an idea of atmospheric perspective, and getting lighter into the distance.
This is a nice example of atmospheric perspective, notice how light in value the far land is in the distance.
#4. Changing your Viewpoint – Viewpoint & positioning yourself in vast landscapes – changing your position to achieve maximum results with the drawing.
To get a good viewpoint before I sketched, I moved off to the side off of the path, and kind of hunkered down a bit so I could get the shape of the eroded cliff that comes out into the mid-ground. Because it’s positioned just below the coastal edge there’s still a space to help frame the mid-ground shape.
#5. How to Frame your View – Thinking inside a frame – using your edges to help you draw, splitting your composition within the frame to create tension or harmony.
Without having the frame around this sketch, you wouldn’t read the sky as anything, it just goes on forever. Just having that border around the piece really helps, you can suddenly start to see a sky and a sea. You’ll also notice how I haven’t placed the boardwalk centrally, it’s on the right-hand side, so, that kind of curves your eye into the drawing.
#6. Choosing a Focal point – Choosing and being aware of a focal point and bearing your concept and final result in mind – when to break the rules in your sketches.
So in this sketch, I’ve got the focal point of the two figures, and then the focal point of the lighthouse. Because of the white of the lighthouse, this would probably actually work better in a painting, so you can see the differences between the white of the lighthouse against the colour of the sea and sky. But everything else in the foreground seems to be working quite well, apart from what I really wanted to show off, which was a lighthouse.
#7. The final result in mind – Is it going to be a drawing or is it going to be for a painting?
So, usually, I do a sketch to see if it’s got a good drawing foundation, but actually from doing this sketch realised it might work better as a painting,
All these great strong shapes in the foreground, leading your eye in, and again using that white for the lighthouse to focus the eye. You would get the colour of the sky the shape of the sea, the glint of the lighthouse. The strongest part of the drawing is in the foreground and that would equally translate into a painting.
You can study these lessons more in-depth in the landscape sketching course.
L to R, Aquash water brush Pen, Lamy Fountain pen, Pentel Brush Pen, Muji 0.5mm fineliner
And I’ve recently discovered that seals are not the only wildlife to be found locally, as our most recent neighbour is a baby seagull chick who has hatched on our roof!
Thursday 24 June 2021
UK’s last night, and it was incredible! Just got a glimpse before it snuck behind some clouds.
Have a great weekend!
This Post Has 144 Comments
How wonderful! I hope you settle in well. What an exciting, exciting project! Cornwall is just beautiful too and so inspiring. Thank you for the tips too about landscape sketching – so helpful.
My pleasure Esther, thanks for your kind wishes.
Congratulations on the new home/studio space. I hope it works well for you both. Fab location for light and inspiration. I’ve relocated to Scotland for the much same reason. Thanks for the continuing lessons and helpful hints.
Cheers Jo, great stuff, hope your new move is going well.
Congratulations. It is all very exciting. That studio space is amazing!!
Thanks so much Laurie, yes super excited about the new space.
What a amazing move
That where I like to be
In st Ives lots painting
Modeling work maybe
It will happen
Look forward to see it come alive
Cheers Norma Jeane, much appreciated, looking forward to it.
Loved reading about your new studio and ideal setting. Can’t wait to see how your creativity brings it to a new beginning. Best of luck.
Thanks so much Marie.
Congratulations on your new studio, home and landscape. Lovely!
Thanks for these really timely pointers Will. I see the sky occupies almost half your frame and wonder what you would do to make it “interesting” in a painting? As always, your comments much appreciated, Donna
Hi Donna, it would depend on where I wanted the focus to be on the painting, if the main subject was the lighthouse I might leave it simple as not to distract, but if I wanted to balance the shapes more would introduce some cloud shapes into the sky.
Congratulations to you both. Nature at its best. As artist-members, we are all going to continue benefiting from your dream home inspiration. Grateful for your sharing landscape principals. I will follow 7 steps with encaustic painting. Au revoir, Monique
Thanks Monique, hope they help with composing your next piece.
Looks fabulous Will! Congratulations on your new studio! Sounds like you already have found lots of new inspiration. Keep us posted on your progress with the renovations. I am interested to see how it turns out. Good luck!
Will do Jenny, hope you’re keeping well.
Good luck with this new venture Will. l imagine art courses will start once you are straight. Please. keep me posted. What a wonderful place.
Will, your new home and studio look fantastic. I’m really pleased for you. Thanks for the lovely photos.
My pleasure Gaye.
I love the location and the new studio for the two of you. Best of Everything !
Very grateful for the sketching principles !!
Really hope you find them helpful Don.
Hi Will, Thank you for the wonderful article. Having been on a 5 day trip to Cornwall recently I can identify with the beauty of the cliffs and landscapes you describe. I just love to see people who are up for the challenge of moving and still having to modify build and remodel an older house. We have done a similar project (because let’s face it, it is a project and no small feat to move, adjust and then at last settle-no matter where you go. Having moved from a perfectly lovely home with a sea view near to the beaches to a small holding of 10 acres with nothing more than a small round house the size of a medium bedroom, a cowshed and a tractor shed further up the land and to add to that no running water or electricity.
We bought a very run down small caravan and with 2 young teens in tow, we moved, to the great distress of family who considered us having “lost it”.
It was the one of the greatest achievements of our 56 years of marriage.
We built a large house and lived on our land for 18+ years. We achieved and experienced more than I thought was possible in the beginning, but the life time experience we and our children learned we’re irreplaceable. Not without a huge amount of challenges I still hope you and you family make your dreams come true in your wonderful new beginning.
I love your teaching, thank you for all your time and effort.
Wow Lorraine, sounds like you took on an epic challenge with the smallholding, so pleased it was an experience worth taking. I’ll take solace when times get tough!
Fantastic, Will! Congratulations on your new studio – looking forward to seeing the renovations! What a beautiful spot you found on our Earth to breathe and create!
Thanks so much Karen.
How lucky to have found this”gem”. Seems ideal- good luck
Cheers Ian, thanks very much.
Thanks for another generous article, Will. What a fabulous setting for an artist…Cornwall! Cheers to you and Vanessa on scoring a sublime location. Look forward to seeing the rejuvenation of your studio.
Thanks so much Helene, so kind of you.
You bring joy! Every morning, I greet my little boys “Morning Class” and remember you. Thank you! Valuable learning
Well that’s fantastic to hear Rups!
Lovely work and your sketches are and tips are so helpful! I hope the studio is up and running soon and we can visit one day. Currently holidaying in the Norfolk Broads with pens and paint to hand x
Thanks Jilly, hope the sketching goes well on the Broads.
No strawberry moon up here near Macclesfield! Much needed rain instead. Enjoy your new studio. Looks like a huge project, but such an adventure
Congratulations!!—so happy for you two!!
Thanks so much Michael.
Congratulations, Will. I hope you will all be very happy in your new home. What a great choice you have made/
We have been away sailing for 10 days in the Clyde and I have discovered that sketching and seasickness are not good partners. Going back soon for another four weeks sailing. Thank you for this newsletter, which was very helpful.
Enjoy your summer. Pam
Ahhh, that does sound like a tricky combination Pam!
Reading this I get shivers all over my body. So much joy! And so much beauty…
Glad you enjoyed it Juliánna.
What an exciting new venture, Will! Good luck with the renovations and I hope you both have many happy, creative years in your new home.
Thanks so much Sarah, very kind of you.
Looking forward to seeing pictures of your new studio when it’s finished! Thanks for the landscape principles..hope to put them to use!
Thanks Mary, really hope you find them helpful.
What a wonderful place to live & work. I’m really looking forward to following how this all develops… a little bit (big bit) envious too. Wishing you inspiration & much happiness.
Thanks so much Lesley, pleased you’re looking forward to seeing the progress.
Will – great news and it must be very exciting and inspirational for you and Vanessa. Good luck with everything and better make sure you fix those leaks! Sky and sea – lots to paint.
Cheers Alastair, thanks very much. Yes, Plumbers Mate and Duck Tape are my new best friends!
Congratulations, Will! Here’s to your courage and fortitude in making your dream studio a reality! Well done! I’m sure your amazing new surroundings will only enhance–and be enhanced by–your already incredible talent and eye! All the best to you both. I look forward to seeing what inspirations you bring us next!
You’re so kind Terri, thanks for the encouragement.
Will, What a wonderful new space! You deserve it after all the hard work you give so freely to your students…as you can see you have so many well wishers…It’s look fabulous indoors and out!
Thanks Lawrence, yes so excited about the new space, thanks for your kind wishes.
You are such a friend to all of us sharing so many of these creative insights so unconditionally. Great read leaving me inspired to take a few seascapes and lighthouses here in New England.
Sounds like a great idea John, yes I’ve heard New England has some fab lighthouses, so pleased you’re feeling inspired.
Will, What a fantastic inspirational setting!
It’s exciting to discover the beauty of a new surrounding and the adventure of renovating the property. I wish you both the best. Enjoy!
Wow! That’s some project you’ve taken on, but so exciting! It must be a dream come true to move to the Home of Artists – Cornwall. But to also move into an artist’s erstwhile studio: sounds like script for a movie! Can you sense an aura??? It would be great to see progress pics of your reno, and I’m off to research Sandra Blow. Do you know her work?
Best wishes to you both in this new episode in your life!
Thanks very much Judy, yes Sandra painted some fantastic large scale abstract pieces and it’s been fascinating finding little nods to her past experiences in the studio.
Congratulations! What a great find. The color of the sea there is really beautiful. Thank you for sharing the lovely photographs.
My pleasure Diana, glad you enjoyed the photos.
Learned a lot about doing a good composition. Good luck on your new studio venture!
Thanks Liz, pleased they helped.
Reading your post I can feel the excitement, and the views-you have found a slice of paradise for sure. Happy for you both. Will you also be living here too as your home or is this only studio space. I love that you can watch the seals close by too
Thanks Kathy, yes it’s a live/work studio space.
Thanks so much for sharing this information and giving a peek into your new adventure. It is going to be a wonderful and exciting year getting settled in. Next, I will study up on Sandra Blow. cheers
Cheers Jude, thanks so much.
Congratulations Will on your new venture! The studio space looks like it has amazing potential and the views of the sea are gorgeous! Loved your shot of the Strawberry Moon!
Thanks Michele, pleased you liked the Strawberry Moon.
I have been lucky enough to travel all over the world, but I can still say that this area of Cornwall is the place I find most inspiring and the place I return to every few months.
It’s a place that feeds you… You’ll be so happy there.
Sending many many best wishes… Please open your studio when you’re ready. We’re waiting.. ❤️
Thanks for your kind wishes Gill, very much appreciated.
What a lovely read this was! Congratulations both of you, I am sure it will be the beauty of a place that you are imagining. So happy for you both. xx
Oh hey Carol, thanks so much, hope you’re all doing well (Ness says hi! x)
Congratulations on a dream come true! Living in the hot Arizona desert, I am in complete awe and wonder of the location you and your wife have settled on. Enjoy the crisp salty and moisturized air, and the opportunities for many sea paintings. Cheers!
Will do Linda, thanks so much.
Hi Will. What a mammoth task ahead for you both, but what a beautiful place to be doing it.
Thank you for all the inspiration you give me and the confidence to try.
Look forward to seeing your progress.
Many blessings to you both x
Thanks Christine, yes the sea is acting as a tonic when the building work feels a bit overwhelming!
You have become my neighbour. I live in Hayle and have painted Godrevy for many years. You will see my paintings if you go to Barbara Turner Jones Facebook Art page. Hope to meet you before long. Barbara
Fab stuff Barbara, it’s such an inspirational setting.
wish you the best in your new studio !!! thank you for your newsletters..and as usual it is complete,helpful, pleasant and shared and given with kindness..
Beautiful light, beautiful place to live and a fantastic studio to work in. Wow.
Thanks so much Carol.
Fantastic Will. I’m not a little envious. We’ve had a few projects in the past so know how exciting it will be for you. You must have been fortunate to get hold of it in St Ives area but certainly well earned. I will now think about trying a painting from your sketch and wonderful photos. TVM..
Good one Ted, yes very exciting, glad you enjoyed the photos.
Much happiness for you two in this new stage in your life. Thank you so much for your generosity to share with us your new home. Perhaps we will have the opportunity to see “the before and after”, with all the changes that will surely be made to adapt the house to your way and need.
Thank you also for always sharing your knowledge of painting, drawing and composition that is very valuable to me.
So pleased it helped Katya.
Enhorabuena Will, deseo que esta nueva etapa en vuestras vidas sea fantástica.
Parece un lugar mágico, inspirador, y si sumamos tu talento y el de tu esposa, ya estoy ansiosa por ver el resultado.
Un abrazo y mis mejores deseos siempre.
Congratulations Will, I wish this new stage in your lives to be fantastic.
It seems like a magical, inspiring place, and if we add your talent and that of your wife, I am already eager to see the result.
A hug and my best wishes always.
Muchas gracias Ange, muy emocionado por eso.
Thanks so much Ange, really excited about it.
Wishing you both much happiness and lots of luck in your new home, with love – & I confess a little envy – Sue x
Thanks so much Sue, very kind of you.
Hi Will and Vanessa
My very best wishes to you both and being an ex builder I know the mountains you both have to climb in order to make this your home. I only wish I lived nearer as it would be my pleasure to give you a hand achieving your dream.
Because Will you have been an inspiration to me and all my art as it used to be Portraits then you got me interested in still life and I have now become smitten with landscapes so thanks for that Will and as soon as I can find out how to send pictures from my new phone I shall send examples.
Once again God luck to you both. Bob
You’re too kind Bob, so pleased you’ve been enjoying working on new subjects with your paintings.
You will absolutely love it there. Inspiration is everywhere.
Congratulations and best wishes for many happy years in your new home and studio! Would love to visit beautiful Cornwall some day.
Thanks very much Sherry.
So nice to catch a glimpse of you again. It is always a delight to see where you are on your travels and to be able to see what you see in a scene. Thank you so much.
Glad you enjoyed it Patsy.
Will, What a grand project for your and Vanessa’s creative work. Can’t wait to see how the new home evolves. Wishing you both love, hope, peace—Mary
Thanks so much Mary, hope you’re keeping well.
Thank you for sharing such exciting news in such detail—all the best to you and your wife in your new ventures.
What a feel-good story and so inspiring!
Thanks Elaina, that’s so kind of you to send your wishes.
Congratulations to you and your family, Will. How fabulous! Thanks for your 7 principles of landscape sketching. Looking forward to lots of images of your new seaside home. (I love living on an island surrounded by the sea on the west coast of Canada.)
Cheers Jane, really hope you find them helpful.
Hi Will, good luck with your great adventure. from lockdown in OZ. more timefor painting Yea
Much happiness to you both. May this new chapter bring exciting new horizons. Many thanks for all your ‘tips’, they have helped me in my work considerably; you are very generous. Sadly, my life never took me in the same direction as yours, but at least now I have a little converted shed in my garden and when I am not working I can draw and paint. Good Luck!!
Thanks Jan, so pleased the lessons have helped in your work.
Your new studio, side by side with Vanessa’s pottery, is in such a gorgeous setting. I wish you both much creative happiness.
I have to tell you… I look forward to your newsletter and have always stopped what I’m doing to read the entire thing, much like an eagerly awaited letter from an old friend. I get so much joy out of following your travels, and your mention of dear Vanessa, and your generous outpouring of creative knowledge, that I will put off chores just so I can attempt to follow along on your latest lessons. I learn something new each time, (such as just how thin buildings become when sketching a street view.)
I love your teaching style and appreciate how well you explain everything. I recently downloaded your portrait lesson. The step by step stages of painting have given me a new awareness on how to accomplish a more dimensional face. (The models are so adorable.) It’s going a bit slow for me because suddenly we can travel again, but I come back to it as often as I can. I expect my next portrait to show great improvement, thanks to you.
Well that’s marvellous to hear Katharina, glad the portrait course has been helpful. Yes, really excited about the project, glad you’ve been enjoying the blog.
I kind of figured you were the type of person who would be in touch with their mojo, and so sounds like it was time very well spent by you two to find your new studio. Best wishes.
And here again your post provides depth and helpful information answering the question of how, WRT drawing or painting landscapes. I look forward to digging into it deeper.
Thanks so much Laura, so pleased you enjoyed the landscape lessons.
Thank you SO much for this mood/morale/spirit lifting post. I REALLY needed a lift and a reminder that there are real people out there like you, doing real things that have nothing to do with all the rotten stuff going on in our beautiful world – it just makes me happy. Some day when my 82 year old life slows down, I hope to get back to painting (other than walls!). Meanwhile, I do enjoy all that you share (and I really loved England when I visited as a teacher with the writing program – would love to get back!) So, THANKS AGAIN, Willy
So pleased you enjoyed it Willette, glad you enjoyed the photos.
So happy for you and Vanessa!
Just like for the painting, enjoy the process ( of getting set up) and it’ll “go faster”! ;))
Thanks again SO MUCH for all your wonderful instruction and art education: I always seem to come back to you and your website, even though I paint in oils…
Thanks Colette, so pleased you found the lessons helpful and I have been enjoying the art instruction.
Ahh, S’nives (St Ives) you follow a well-trodden artists path to a beautiful, rugged part of the country.
The light really is different there: little wonder it has such a reputation and history.
St Buryan was my home for a time some years ago, close to some hidden gems – Pednvounder a particular favourite.
Good luck with the move and the renovations and enjoy the ice cream… try Jelberts in Newlyn, it’s the best!
Thanks for the suggestions Hazel, Pednvounder looks lovely.
Congratulations on your fantastic new studio! What a discovery in this wonderful town of St. Ives. I am very much looking forward to further photos of your project and wish you good luck, patience and strong nerves :-))
Thanks so much Beate, much appreciated.
Thanks for those beautiful photos and tips, Will. Good luck and wishing you both all the very best in your new home and venture.
Thanks so much Carol, very kind of you.
I’ll be looking forward to seeing some wonderful paintings of your stunning surroundings!
The sketching tips are helpful!
Glad they helped Frances
Good for you ! The interaction between sky and water is absolutely mind boggeling at times.. so glad you’ve found your dream home.. no doubt it was waiting for you ..Thanks for sharing your great adventure!
Cheers Victoria, thanks for your kind wishes.
Congratulations Will and Vanessa, what a romantic spot and how wonderful your new beginning project. Thank you for sharing the views of Cornwall and St. Ives, your photos are amazing. Thanks for all the effort you put in sharing your art and all the pointers you send our way.
With ice-cream your move will be more enjoyable. Best wishes!
Thanks so much Marivone, glad you enjoyed the photos, yes, ice-cream does seem to be featuring quite highly on myy to-do list!
How wonderful you have found this special place to paint! I have a house on the coast of Maine and share the wonder here in Maine that you have found in Cornwall. You have so much to look forward to in your new location. Congratulations!
Thanks for your kind words Paula.
Will and Vanessa, So excited for your new home and adventure! I love your photos and I wonder what camera you might recommend? I would like to save digital files of my paintings and possibly even create prints from my artwork someday. I have realized that my android phone files might not be the way to go!
I want to thank you for your inspiration and gift of teaching that leads the student to their own place of creativity. I was an art major at University of Arizona so very long ago and really loved drawing, but left when I could not afford paint! Honestly, it has been so wonderful to pick up a brush and learn from you. Thank you and visit us in Arizona sometime.. we have wonderful light, too. (Bring big hats)
Thanks so much for your kind wishes Linda. For camera choice, I’d say look for a mirrorless camera as it will be closest to the experience of working with a phone. Also, having one with a touch screen can be handy. For reviews, Gordon from camera labs in the UK has some great thorough unbiased reviews that would be a great starting point.
Hope this helps,
Endless inspiration ahead! Thank you for sharing this. I loved seeing it and reading your tips!
Barb in Bend
Thanks so much Barb.
I enjoyed your tutorial on the different acrylic whites. Very informative and well presented. I hope your move to Cornwall will give you inspiration and that the Art School will continue to prosper. I am about to paint an Orca and am experimenting with chromatic blacks.
Glad the article on the different whites was of help Colin. Hope the Orca study goes well.
Just signed up to your newsletter this morning. The light down there on the Cornish coast is great for painting I hope you enjoy.
(Have you any on line Acrylic colour mixing introductory tutorials based on following themes?:-
– ‘Autumnal Colours’ especially for trees
– ‘Alpine Mountains’
Hi Keith, nice to have you along, I haven’t got any specify tutorials on those subjects, but you might enjoy the winter scene lesson.
Best wishes in your new home by the sea.
Quite an adventure for you.
I live by the CA coast and appreciate the magical effect the vast open space of the ocean.
A continually changing scene.
Thanks so much Anita, sounds beautiful.