As is my normal practice, I first killed off the white board with a wash of very thin burnt sienna oil paint, and let this dry overnight.

I rarely, if ever, paint on a white ground. I often use a neutral grey or similar tone wash, but it’s good to experiment with other colours.

I watched Fred Cuming painting on a red ground in his first DVD, Atmosphere of Landscape - I had to give this a try for myself and was amazed at how interesting a red ground colour actually is.

Top Tip

You can use acrylic for the ground colour instead of oil paint, making drying time much quicker.

Demonstration: Mouth of the Estuary

This exercise isn't meant to be a highly finished work, more of a working tonal sketch that could be later used to develop a more finished piece perhaps, although these rapid oil sketches can often stand as finished pieces in their own right. 

I’ve tried to keep it fairly loose and sketchy from the outset, and to capture an overall freshness and spontaneity, not a laboured interpretation - I’ve managed to get somewhere close to that I feel.

If I’m ever struggling for subject matter, I can generally come up with something from my imagination - this doesn’t have to be a complicated composition, simple is often the best approach.

Mouth of the Estuary, oil on board, (40x50cm)

Initial sketch

It's always good to start with an initial tonal drawing, in this instance using Indian ink and a splash of white gouache, to pick out a few highlights, on Strathmore Toned Gray paper. This helps with the composition and establishing the darks and lights in your finished work.