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Shadows at Bedruthan Steps in cold wax and water-soluble oils with Camilla Clark

Posted on Tue 04 Sep 2018

Shadows at Bedruthan Steps


I decided on a square format as it encourages the eye to move in a circular movement around the painting, which I felt would work well with this viewpoint. I made an outline drawing on the primed board with an HB pencil.



Using a large painting blade I began by blocking in the darkest tones, which are mainly a mix of phthalo blue and alizarin crimson, and mid-tones in the sky and foreground which were mainly a mix of alizarin crimson and lemon yellow blended with a ratio of 70:30 paint to cold wax. Note the rich colours, particularly in the sky and foreground. The translucency of a warm orange (lemon yellow and alizarin crimson with wax) underpainting of the sunlit cliffs gave them a glow.


Starting with the sky and far horizon I applied a pale mix of titanium white, phthalo blue and a touch of alizarin crimson and lemon yellow in differing amounts, allowing the cold wax and transparent colour mix to ‘float’ over and create depth and texture. I applied the paint in different directions with the painting blade to give a sense of movement and lively marks. To help create atmospheric perspective I used more titanium white nearer the horizon and warmer, more saturated and darker colours in the mid and foreground. My aim was to capture the brilliant contrast of sun and dark shadows on the sea and rocks.


The sea had layers of cold wax mixed with differing blues and turquoise greens to create a sense of movement and depth, and the sunlit rocks were lightened. Note the gestural marks made with the painting blades. I achieved atmospheric perspective by painting the background cliffs in paler, bluer colours and less distinct marks, and created warmer greens as you come nearer to the foreground. The shape and colour of the dark shadows on the sea and cliff were vital to create a feeling of light and a sense of height from where the viewer is ‘standing’.


Shadows At Bedruthan Steps, oil and cold wax on board, (61x61cm)

I continued to apply layers and refine areas without overworking the picture, finishing with the foreground of sunlit sea thrift so that I made the most of the contrast of their delicate soft pink heads against the dark rocks in shadow. The wave patterns and sea foam are important compositional and tonal aspects as they lead the eye around and also create the important highlights.

Camilla’s tips for working with cold wax

  • Cold wax is compatible with oil and alkyd paint
  • Rigid supports work best, eg wood, MDF, aluminium, canvas board
  • Never mix wax with oil paint in a ratio greater than 50:50
  • Always mix wax into paint with a palette knife
  • Store at room temperature to ensure the right consistency
  • Use transparent colours for greatest translucency
  • Cold wax will make paint thicker and more matt
  • Wax can be used neat on a rag as a final varnish when the painting is dry
  • Clean brushes and tools using your normal method

Camilla Clark studied art and architecture at Kent University before working in commercial interior design. She runs workshops from her studio in Somerset and will be opening her studio during Somerset Art Weeks from September 15 to 30, 2018 ( Her paintings can also be seen at the Create Gallery, Cornwall:

Read more from Camilla in the October 2018 issue of The Artist

Click here to purchase your copy

Shadows at Bedruthan Steps in cold wax and water-soluble oils with Camilla Clark


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