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Oil Painting

This is my homage to the Newlyn Artists and features my good friend ‘Bill’. Being brought up in the west of Cornwall, I have always been inspired by the work of the Newlyn Artists. Whenever I go to Penlee House and see their work there, I always come away feeling that I need to ‘try harder’ and ‘get my paints out!’ So this is me doing just that.


Bill is a fisherman working out of Mousehole, he is also the Assistant Harbour Master there. If not out fishing he can often be found somewhere around the harbourside. He has kindly taken me and the rest of the family out mackerel fishing or foraging along the seashore. What he doesn’t know about such things, isn’t worth knowing. He can spot the ‘oily’ film on the water’s surface showing that Mackerel are feeding down below. Or can quickly scoop out with his hand a Pipefish from a rock pool. And he is one of my young lad’s hero’s.

He fishes in a very sustainable way and often his catch goes straight to people living in Mousehole itself. No road miles there.

In this painting he is ‘Jigging for Mackerel’. He had a line with several hooks onto, the hooks were ‘baited’ with coloured wire insolation. Bill just ‘jigged’ the line with his hand bringing up several Mackerel at a time. Most he sold in the village and we all had some for our tea too. Proper Job!

I liked this pose, juxtaposing the dramatic power of the figure, with the delicacy of the line.

Four stages of my oil painting portrait of Bill or Jigging for Mackerel.

Work in Progress

Some of the stages of my oil painting: Top left: The pencil drawing, I used a coloured pencil, transferring using a grid. Top right: The first thinned, oil washes and sky going in. Bottom left: More thinned, washes and finished sky. Bottom right: Nearly finished. I tend to work down the painting. Painting as much as I can in one go to keep everything simple. By the way, that’s the back of St Michael’s Mount in the background. On stretched canvas, 50 x 70 cm.
Bill's Head

Finally ~ Materials Used

For this painting I was mostly using Winsor & Newton, Artists’ oil paints, with a few Michael Harding paints too. Even though the canvas came ready primed I still gave it a couple of coats of gesso. Most of the brushes I used were round oil brushes, some being quite small – size 1 or 2.

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