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the fossil hunters

The Fossil Hunters

This painting won me the Artists and Illustrators magazine

Landscape Artist of the Year 2009 award.

Here's a step by step guide to its development.

reference photographs

Whitby in Yorkshire, England, is a fascinating place. The coastline here is Jurassic in origin and where land meets sea the rock crumbles away. It is rich in fossils. The harder slate grey floor of the sea bed is also fossil rich and when the tide is out many people forage around here chiselling out ammonite and belomnite fossils.

step one

I blocked in the paper with cerrulean blue and mixing white and a flew flecks of yellow ochre, marking out the rough boundaries of the sky, and the cliff top and bottom.

step two

Using my palette knife I laid down course layers of browns and gold tones using mixes of yellow ochre, burnt sienna, umber, and gold. I put some vivid reds and payne's grey at either side to represent the curious rocky hollows at the foot of the cliff.

step three

I darkened the foreshore and tried to separate it from the body of the cliff. I worked more tones into the cliff face, fixing some highlights to indicate ledges. Adding the three 'fossil hunters' on the foreshore gave a reference for scale.

step four

The final version. I wasn't happy with the sky which had been kind of neglected til now. I was keen to give it the same horizontal feel as the rock banding. I added a seagull nest and a couple of birds to the left halfway up. I dampened down the harsh highlights on the cliff wall. Final act was to add some vertical drips down parts of the cliff with a wet brush. Click for a large version.

Artist of the Year - Awards night

A selection of my paintings and photography

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