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Painting Corfe Castle

I went to the beautiful Isle of Purbeck with my lovely friend Annabel this week, to visit some of the landscapes I love to paint, to see them through fresh eyes, from a different point of view. I paused to take photos, reflect on my mood, absorb the colours. I´ve painted mystical Corfe Castle, and iconic Durdle Door many times, yet never in the same way twice.

Durdle Door was formed 10,000 years ago by the sea crashing against the Portland limestone. Durdle Door, Moody Sunset seen here, shows the dramatic, breathtaking view I usually paint.

Corfe Castle, was built in the 11th century, and is sometimes seen floating dreamlike above the rising mist. The magnificent, ancient fortress sits on a cone-shaped chalk hilltop, cut away by two streams which flowed around the outside eroding the rock slowly, perfectly, over time. Corfe Castle in Bloom is available as a print.

Mother Nature has taken what seems like effortless centuries to create these stunning landscapes. It´s going to take me a couple of weeks to complete my new painting. I´m inspired and start by checking my art supplies. I select parts of two or three photos so that the composition feels more complete. Placing the beautiful, peachy roses blooming in the foreground and the foliage to the left will create more depth.

Although a portrait would work quite well, I prefer a panoramic canvas this time. I prep the canvas with an ordinary, sandy coloured acrylic so the paint won´t sink in and leave white speckles when it dries. I select my colours for my preferred limited palette. Cool cerulean blue, cadmium yellow, magenta, burnt umber, black to cool and shade, white to lift and enhance. I will create the abundance of green from yellow mixed with a little black and use magenta and white for the roses. I would never introduce another red once I´ve chosen one for my palette.

I visited Corfe Castle on an overcast, misty day in soft drizzle, the kind of English rain that gets you wet without your knowledge. We sat in the tea garden at the foot of the hill and took photos from a completely different angle. This inspired me to start a new painting of Corfe Castle. Grey days do not restrict me from painting at any time of day because my clever electrician son has installed daylight bulbs all around my studio space. I can paint with consistent colours at 3am or 2pm regardless of what mood the weather is in.

Brushes? I´m obsessed! I must have at least 100 different shapes and sizes ranging from top quality Rosemary&Co to the cheapest, no less effective brushes from the Wish app. I use whichever brush I feel like, as if it´s an extension of my hand rather than a conscious choice.

And talking of obsessed, Sunny enjoyed a joyful, riotous reunion with all six of his siblings and his mum this week. How wonderful to watch as he has grown from a tiny puppy in the palm of my hand to the tumbling, racing, chasing, exuberant character he is now when he plays with the others. I´ve spent hours training and nurturing my gentle, affectionate little Cockapoo, just as it´s taken me years to know what resources I need to create a beautiful, evocative landscape on canvas.

It´s humbling to appreciate that Mother Nature does not count the hours, nor seems to plan or consult Youtube.

What happens simply happens.

Marja Brown

Landscape Artist

Original paintings and prints available from my website. Commissions undertaken with joy.

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