I Messed Up The Idyllic Town of St Ives

Recently, I realised that St Ives is not just a brand of face wash and shampoo. It is an idyllic seaside town 5 hours’ drive south of London.

There is something Van Goth-like about the colours of St Ives, don’t you think?

Newspaper clipping of St Ives with its blue seas and yellow mossy roofs trimmed with red tiles.

I brought the picture to class the following week, but I soon regretted my choice. I realised that it is a rather complicating picture. I felt overwhelmed with the details and felt anxious that I could not complete the painting in one evening.

I also regretted that I forgot to apply what I had learned earlier from Drawing From The Right Side Of The Brain. I should have applied grid lines on the picture and on my sketching paper to break down the drawing into smaller portions.

Teacher helped me re-sketch much of this drawing. He also advised me to use steady long strokes rather than short feathery ones for buildings as this would help keep the lines straight.

I applied a very light wash using Gamboge yellow over the entire paper. When it dried I added in the Phytho blue for the sky and the sea, as well as parts of buildings that were blue. I mixed Payne’s grey with the blue for some areas to quieten the blue, especially for shadow areas. Then came the yellow for the roofs.

I admit it. I messed up the town of St Ives. It  is now a flat 2-D town in cartoon land that has been abused by some mad Van-Gothic obsessed character intent on vandalising its walls and roofs with yellow and blue paint.

My beloved did a much better job with pastels. He painted a lovely piece of this bay area at St Ives. I think he did a fine job for a beginner. I love the vibrance of his St Ivian sky and the translucence of his sparking sea.

Isn’t this a heavenly place to retire in?

St Ives in pastels, done by my beloved (with a little help from Teacher, of course).

3 thoughts on “I Messed Up The Idyllic Town of St Ives

  1. Monica! You judge your work too harshly. This is a beautiful watercolor. It’s a complicated composition that you tackled well, and the colors are brilliantly handled. Yellow is always difficult. Those value changes you are concerned with (i.e. “a flat, cartoon town) come with practice. This is not ruined, instead a very energizing, cheerful painting.


    • Thanks for the encouragement Nanina! I really enjoy drawing and painting when I do not get too anxious about the results. Nonetheless, I want to get better too – like you. But one drawing and one painting at a time, I guess. I am so glad I started, and wondered why I haven’t done so earlier : )

      • Painting brings such pleasure, even if frustrated…like solving a difficult puzzle. I dedicated 2 years to improving my watercolors, do only a few acrylics or oils during that period. That really helped me reach the point where I feel I have the “tools” to prevent trouble or solve problems. So yes, one painting, one drawing at a time. You’ll get there. It’s a process, a journey that is unending, but quite rewarding.

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