‘Rever Polaris’ and the pilot boat ‘Sea Haven’ – the story of how this painting developed

This is my most recent watercolour painting and I thought it might be interesting to record the process I went through to get to the final version. I wouldn’t normally go through so many preliminary versions of a painting, but I think it was worthwhile in this case to play around with several options.

‘Rever Polaris’ is a multi-role diving support and offshore construction vessel, which changed its name following a business reorganisation (previously ‘Bibby Polaris’) in January 2019.

My original photograph

This is my original photograph, taken around noon on 06.12.2018 near the entrance to Aberdeen Harbour, close to the old Harbourmaster’s Tower, and cropped to give a reasonable composition. As you can see, it was a pretty cold, grey winter’s day. This was taken about six weeks prior to the name change from ‘Bibby Polaris’ to ‘Rever Polaris’.

Tonal sketch

I started off with a rough tonal sketch, just to get a feel for the image.

Composition study

Then I did a watercolour composition study, you can see from this one that I decided to move the breakwater & lighthouse over to the right to improve the composition. At this stage I was still going with the stormy/grey conditions.

Alternative composition

But then a friend suggested that a sunrise composition might look better, so I did a watercolour pencil sketch to test that idea. I quite liked it.

Sea Haven

However, at this stage I thought that the pilot boat on its own might make a good painting so I did a reasonably detailed sketch of it, which encouraged me to do a full watercolour of Sea Haven on its own, at sunrise.

Sea Haven – cool colours

I did two versions of Sea Haven, this one using cool colours …….

Sea Haven – warm colours

and this one using warm colours.

The final watercolour painting

And this is my final watercolour painting. In the end I decided to keep both vessels in the painting and use mostly warmer colours.

This whole process took approximately six months to get through, far too long and I wouldn’t go through so many versions again. But in this case I learned a lot about composition & colours so I think it was worth it.

I’ve decided to keep the original paintings, the final one is now framed and hanging on my wall.

However prints of the final version are available if you’re interested. Visit my online shop here to view prints for sale, current costs and ordering details.

Bye for now.

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