This is a view from Benone Beach. It’s located in Northern Ireland, on the North Antrim Coast, near Limavady and just north of Derry City. In my opinion, Benone is one of the most beautiful strands in Ireland. It’s seven miles of unbroken sand and dunes backdropped by magnificent cliffs and headlands. This was painted in summer and depicts three distinct headlands with just a glimpse of Mussenden Temple on the most distant cliff.
What really attracted me to this scene was the marked “Aerial Perspective” – the effect of intervening layers of air obscuring the scene as it recedes making distant objects appear more “blue” and tonally lighter. Here, The effect is heightened by the nearest cliff being in deep shadow. Although this is a simple composition it’s a good example of how something “simple” can work. The sands were also wet at the time due to the tide being out this allowed me to break up the immediate foreground with reflections and bands of colour in stark contrast to the well described cliffs.
It would have been tempting to get as near to the old Temple on the hill as possible. But I think keeping that feature in the distance has worked better in this instance. In terms of composition I always look for natural patterns like this, and these three headlands provided just that. I remind myself to try to remember that a painting is a mere construct the architect of which is the artist. Nature is the ultimate architect and it’s all there somewhere! It’s a matter of looking with purpose. Having an strategy for a painting before you start is always a good idea.
Something of interest in all three areas of the painting
That’s my starting point and always my plan – find a scene with something of interest in: the foreground; the mid-ground and the far distance (background). This puts a border around the planning process and provides a strategy for a picture, making it easier to find a suitable scene to paint and eliminating unnecessary thinking.