Beer is a beautiful small unspoilt fishing village situated on the South Devon Coast between Lyme Regis and Sidmouth. This last weekend we booked a B and B right in the centre. I had never been before, nor knew anything about the place, but one of my painting friends has had a permanent caravan there for years and another recently visited for a short break. Listening to them talk enthusiastically about the area decided us to go at fairly short notice.
Beer is situated on the cliffs above a lovely cove and the beach, although of pebbles rather than sand, makes for a delightful view. I noticed the place we stayed in had a number of framed prints from a local artist called Ben Bradshaw, rather too chocolate box for my taste, but obviously popular and very prolific judging by the amount of his work, in various forms, around the village. His originals sell for £300 - £500 apparently.
There are two good gallerys in the main Fore street, one called Steamers and the other the Marine Gallery. They appear to be owned by the same person or persons and I was particularly taken by some of the paintings in the Steamer Gallery. Some very good artists featured here.
On to painting. I took all my outdoor gear with me and, although conditions were slightly windy, decided to attempt a painting. My wife hired a deckchair and got on with her latest book from her reading group.
The beach has numerous attractive boats and other miscellaneous gear lying about so there are plenty of possible subjects. The main problem was the wind and also the pebbly beach which is loose underfoot, so it brings problems in setting up to paint. I chose a spot in a corner just off the beach with a cement base and settled on a particular large boat, surrounded by numerous others of varying sizes. After drawing the main boat, which was interconnected with numerous others, I kept drawing adding more and more until I had a really busy drawing. This was a major mistake. Not long after I began to paint I realised I had a probable disaster on my hands, notwithstanding the various onlookers who made approving noises. There are a few who say nothing so make of that what you will. One thing I have learned is not to pursue failure so I soon gave up and the partially completed painting finished up in the nearest rubbish bin. Lesson from this. Take more care and simplify. Also take a little more time about deciding what to paint. I do that more and more these days but still suffer relapses, as on this occasion.
The unsatisfactory end of my painting session made me determined to have another go the following day, helped by a slight moderation of the wind factor. Otherwise the weather was excellent. The previous day I had taken lots of photos so had a clearer idea of what to concentrate on. On this occasion I braved the pebbly beach and parked myself well forward as you will see from the painting. Down went the groundsheet and this helped but easel, chair and me were still slightly rocky. The wind remained a factor although not a major one, despite this the whole lot went flying on one occasion, water pot and all but fortunately no real damage.
This is the result completed in about 2 hours. This time I followed Charles Reid's advice when painting outdoors in that, rather than completing the drawing in one session, I drew some then painted and repeated this two or three times. This is to combat the way light changes over the course of a painting session.
Boats on the beach at Beer Waterford 16" x 12" Not
I'm not delighted with the above. I feel I can do much better and have some excellent photographs to work with. Hopefully a much better painting will emerge which I can display on here. What else about Beer? We shall definately return. Excellent fish and chips from the Beer Fish and Chip shop/restaurant and another very good meal in a quality restaurant called Steamers. We also indulged in clotted cream teas (twice!).