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John Brenton and the Places he Paints

Published 6 March 2018

With John Brenton’s solo show Teme to Tamar fast approaching, we asked John to share with us some thoughts about the places he paints, why he paints them and the impact these places have on him. Teme to Tamar will run from 14 March - 6 April, click here to find out more.

Below are quotes from John Brenton about the places behind 10 of his new paintings exploring the inspirational landscape between the river Teme and the river Tamar.

Whitesand Waves

Whitesand Waves

"Whitesand Waves depicts a section of Sennen Cove. It forms part of the last major beach in Cornwall very near to Lands End. Painted in late Spring, from oil sketches and charcoal, I was inspired by the movement of the spring tide; the freshness of the clean ocean colours and the changing patterns of the clouds in a strong breeze. Trying to keep the sand blowing on to the paint was an issue though!"

Constantine Bay Tide

Constantine Bay Tide

"Constantine Bay Tide. Taken from the Western side of this North Cornish beach near Padstow. The subdued evening September light was the focal point for this large painting... Working from oil sketches, photos and drawings, I tried to capture the serenity and soft light on the ocean in this picture. I worked on the canvas back in the studio as it was just a bit too large to drag around the beach! Large canvases act like sails in these conditions!"

Stream Meets Ocean

Stream Meets Ocean

"Stream Meets Ocean. The most south westerly of all beaches in England called Mill Bay or Nanjizel, has a strong stream that finds its way through to the Atlantic over west cornish fields and valleys. I was attracted to the way that the stream carves a path through the beach to the sea and the lovely blue horizon that appeared on that day. The canvas was laid flat on the sand as it was quite windy and I had work, kneeling down, very quickly to capture all the information needed."

Atlantic Palms

Atlantic Palms

"Atlantic Palms. Above Sennen Beach in Cornwall stand these sentinel like palm trees that add a touch of the exotic. Painted in late summer, I have included the briefly flowering evening primroses and mallow that colour the foreground making a contrast to the blues of the distant sea and sky. Its a great view from that point of the coast path - one of my favourite locations."

The Rush of the Tide

The Rush of the Tide

"The location for The Rush of the Tide was Polzeath and was painted late Autumn. Working from oil sketches and charcoal drawings, this painting shows my love of the more abstract and loose approach to colour and form. I worked quickly (as it was pretty cold!) sketching the patterns of the foreground rocks and the colours of the surrounding sand and sea. Even though it was fairly calm, it felt as though a storm was on its way!"

Teme Valley Snow

Teme Valley Snow

"Teme Valley Snow shows the view from the back of my Worcestershire studio situated by the river Teme. The large amount of snowfall in early December last year inspired me to don the thermals and brave the elements to try and capture the white blanket and starkness of the trees and fences protruding from the whiteness. I loved the blue shadows cast  and the clarity of sunlight that were evident on that day. -3 degrees did limit my time to just over two hours before my fingers started to go numb!"

Above Garra Beach

Above Garra Beach

"Above Garra Beach. Situated on the Channel side of the South Devonshire coast, Garra Beach is near to Salcombe on the other side of the estuary. There is a great circular walk which takes you from East Portsmouth right around the coast path with views to Bolt Head and North and South Sands. The inspiration for this painting was the juxtaposition of the foreground gorse set against the high vantage point above Garra Beach which lead my eye through the picture toward Start Point. Being in quite a sheltered spot, I spent most of the day painting here in the warm sunshine looking down on the inviting sea and warm sand. Very tempting..."

Stream Through the Valley

Stream Through the Valley

"The river valley at Luxulyan in Mid Cornwall is the location for Stream Through The Valley. It is the place that I visit most often for wooded valley scenes as it contains all the inspirational elements the that I look for.  the river can be quite winding and narrow in places which gives fantastic and numerous viewpoints to paint from. The watery yellowish light formed a warm backdrop for this painting though I had to work quickly as it faded quickly. The essential marks and colours were applied and then I added details back at the studio. I didn’t see another person during the time I was painting… Being an artist, it is a great advantage to be comfortable in your own company!"

Beach Encounter II

Beach Encounter II

"Beach Encounter II depicts the North side of Gwenver beach on the North coast of Cornwall - my favourite beach for surfing. With this painting I wanted to show the influence of the human figure in a landscape and also to give  a sense of scale. I love the dark foreground rocks which I often use in my compositions and the way the incoming tide forms patterns between them. Adapting Brief Encounter to Beach Encounter a sort of play on words seemed appropriate - some may beg to differ! - giving a romantic narrative to the painting. Late summer walks on the beach are a favourite pastime of mine!"

Cape Cornwall from Sennen Cove

Cape Cornwall from Sennen Cove

"Cape Cornwall from Sennen Cove. The location is self explanatory. Cape Cornwall is an impressive landmark and strangely little known in other parts of the country and even county! The foreground rocks divide Whitesand Cove into two large beaches at high tide. At low tide it is possible to walk the entire length of the beach. I had to dodge a few rain showers for this painting... Fortunately it wasn’t a large one to cover during downpours!  Very rapid tidal movement on this day so had to work very quickly!"


Hannah Woodman - Painting Cornwall

Mark Demsteader - Ophelia

Donald Macdonald - A Little bit of Life

Rachel Ross - Recollections

David Rycroft: Some reflections on Espace & Luminosité

John Brenton and the Places he Paints


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