I wanted a little change from the recent series of exotic bird pictures (although I am certainly not tired of doing them!) so I thought I’d vary things with a wharf image. A change is as good as a rest, so they say. Anyhow, I had taken a photo during the last January that I thought might be a good picture to copy. We had spent a long (lonnnggg!) time in the car park at MacCormack’s Beach Provincial Park at Eastern Passage nr Halifax, over the course of four visits (six for Mark!), trying to see a ‘first for Nova Scotia’ Kelp Gull (and failing). It was cold, and on occasions, nasty weather, but on (I think) the second visit the weather was sunny and I relieved the monotony slightly by taking a walk around the adjacent Fisherman’s Cove. This is an attractive wharf area of prettily painted wooden huts, mostly containing art, crafts and an unfeasibly large number of fudge shops (or so it seemed to we who are on strict diets and don’t indulge!). It’s also a working wharf, with some lobster boats and a fish plant at the end. I liked the photo and thought that the slanted shadows and reflections in the water could make for a nice challenge.

This, I thought, was a job for the watercolour pencils, and in particular the Derwent Inktense. I always like the real pop of colour that these pencils give, once they are wetted, and it is a real bonus that the ‘ink’, once dried, is permanent and thus won’t be bothered by anything going over them. This was particularly useful for that long tether snaking out of the front of the picture since, typically, the water was the last but one area that I painted. The overall last was the sky, I really hate doing sky. On this occasion, this might have been better done first. I certainly didn’t get it blue enough but I was worried about spoiling the rest of the picture if I went back in.

The Inktense pencils are great, but not to be used (in my opinion) for everything, so I also used a fair number of my Supracolor and Albrecht Durer pencils. I was pretty happy with the reflections in the water, especially the front boat (Fiddlers Green IV) and the rocks to the right. Still no gull, though, although I was tempted to draw one in, perching on the railings, just to wind up Mark!

‘Fisherman’s Cove, Eastern Passage, NS’9 x 12 inch watercolour pencil (Derwent Inktense, Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer, Caran d’Ache Supracolor), with minor details in Staples gel pen and Uniball Signo white pigment ink pen, on 140 lb cold press watercolour paper (Canson XL).



It has been a while since I tackled a wharf. I thought it might prove a relaxing subject after the excitement of animal and human portraiture, in any case, although perhaps I should have chosen a wharf with other than white boats. All my pretty colours left in the tin…aww!

Anyhow, I liked this summer view of Chegoggin Point wharf (it really is called that), with one of the smaller boats pulled up out of the water and surrounded by a sea of Queen Anne’s Lace. It was a bit of fun to draw, especially when keeping all of those flower stems separate from the background. I used pencils from all of the big sets: Caran d’Ache Supracolor, Derwent Watercolour and Marco Renoir for lots of variation on cream and light grey/white (to differentiate between the boats and provide shading), Staedler Karat black (still my favourite for precise lines) and Derwent Inktense, to provide some pops of colour on the boats themselves. I used the Uni-ball Signo white pigment ink pen to lighten the masts and tether on the front boat.

chegoggin rs watermark copy

‘Summer at Chegoggin’, 8 x 10 inch, watercolour pencil (Caran d’Ache Supracolor, Derwent Watercolour, Marco Renoir, Staedler Karat and Derwent Inktense) and pigment ink pen (Uni-ball Signo white) on 140 lb cold press watercolour paper (Canson XL).

Daniel’s Head

Daniel’s Head is a point of land on the south side of Cape Sable Island and is well known to birders as an ‘important bird area’. Indeed, the somewhat bleak-looking landscape encompasses a beach (breeding Piping Plovers!) and saltmarsh, divided by a road and sea ‘wall’ (a pile of boulders that does get breached, from time to time). At the end of the road is a fish plant and a small wharf with lobster boats.

I have been working at a series of pictures depicting the wharves of Cape Sable Island. so it was necessary to have a go at the one on Daniel’s Head. Unfortunately, its a rather industrial looking place, the buildings and wharf itself don’t lend themselves to whimsy! I could not seem to get a photo reference that inspired me. In the end, Mark came to the rescue with a view across from the wharf, looking towards the road and the sea wall. The fish plant would be on the far right of the picture. In the background is a metal structure, made of girders and given the name of ‘the metal forest’ by local birders, due to the number of interesting birds found sitting on it, over the years. I have to admit I am not at all sure what its true purpose might be. You can see the boulder-strewn sea wall in the distance.

I used the Derwent Inktense pencils again for the hulls of the boats and other intensely-coloured places in this picture, but then swapped to conventional watercolour pencils for the rest. I have been using the Supracolors pretty constantly recently, to the neglect of the other sets, so I decided to purposely use the Marco Renoir pencils on this picture. That way I could double-check that the Supracolor pencils were worth the money!

The difference was very noticeable. The Supracolors go on much more smoothly and almost ‘creamy’ as compared to the Renoirs, which felt scratchy. They also don’t wet as readily as the Supracolors, and release less pigment. It felt like harder work to get the colour on the paper, so I do think that the Supracolors were worth the money – it is true that ‘you get what you pay for’. However, the Renoirs did do a good job and, at less than $80 CAD for 72 pencils (on, they probably can’t be beaten for value for money.

Daniels Head Wharf rs watermark

‘The Wharf at Daniel’s Head’, 8 x 10 inch, watercolour pencil (Derwent Inktense, Marco Renoir) on 140 lb cold press watercolour paper (Canson XL).

Another Wharf

Another Wharf…no, not a half-Klingon security officer, but another of the harbours of Cape Sable Island. One of larger wharves, Clark’s Harbour wharf has plenty of colourful lobster boats operating from there. I took a photo for this image late last year and have only just got around to painting it.

As is my normal practice, I used the Derwent Inktense pencils to really put some colour into the boat hulls, trims and things like the red lights, lifebelt and balloon on the top of the third boat. After that I switched to the Supracolors for the rest of the painting. I particularly enjoyed the challenge of the wooden posts and jetty edges, with the rope bannisters, something that I have not seen used at other wharves in the area. In fact is is fascinating to see the differences in materials and formats used in the wharves , even on such a small area as CSI.

clarks harbour wharf rs watermark

‘The Wharf at Clark’s Harbour’, 8.5 x 8.5 inch, watercolour pencil on 140 lb cold press watercolour paper.nother Wharf

Back to the Boats

I have been getting a lot of enjoyment from the bird portraits recently and have neglected other areas so, following completion of my Gyrfalcon study, I made a conscious effort to paint something else. During our trips around Cape Sable Island, and its environs, I have been taking photos of interesting scenes that might make a painting. As the area is big in lobster fishing, and there are lots of wharfs, there are inevitably lots of boats. They are so different from the birds that they are an interesting challenge, a chance to have a go at depicting some different surfaces (eg, timber, concrete, rock, sand) and an opportunity to work at improving my water textures. The boats can be very colourful, and provide a chance to use the Derwent Inktense pencils, a watersoluble ink-like pencil that produce quite bold colours. For that reason, they don’t get a lot of use in the bird paintings. To be honest, I didn’t use just the Inktense on this picture, much of the background, the shading of the white areas, the sky, sea and beach were completed using the standard watercolour pencils. Still, it is certainly a nice break from the greys and browns of the plumage pictures.

This wharf is virtually our local one, Stoney Island (otherwise known as Bulls Head Wharf). I had intended to try to paint a picture from each of our local wharfs, at least the ones on the island, but ended up duplicating this wharf because I liked the positioning of the boats against the unusually colourful wharf buildings- most buildings at wharfs are white!

nicholas q watermark

‘Stoney Island Wharf II’ 8 x 10 inch, Watercolour pencil on 90 lb cold press watercolour paper.

In case you are wondering, Stoney Island Wharf I looks like this:


These boats were on the other side of the wharf and the view is looking out to sea rather than inland.