Painting Britannia

Over the last few weeks I’ve been working on a project that I haven’t been able to share, until now that is. I’ve been doing a large painting of a 60ft Gaff Cutter, which was built in Kings Lynn in 1913. “Britannia” had been fully restored in the 1970s but had sadly been very neglected in recent years and is now in need of restoration all over again. Britannia Sailing Trust has a website and they are kicking off their fundraising this weekend with a small fete in the village of Winkleigh in Devon, where Britannia is currently sited. As part of the event there will be an exhibition of paintings of the boat that have been done over the course of many years

My painting will be on exhibition there and the Trust will then sell cards, mugs and possibly prints with the images from the exhibition.


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This painting has been quite a challenge.  Although I’ve painted boats in the past I have never worked on anything quite so detailed or intricate as this boat. Britannia hasn’t actually sailed for several years, so there were only old photos of her, (above) which presented a number of difficulties. None of the images were very large, so seeing detail was not easy, getting the colour right was also a challenge.

I needed to work on both colour and composition, trying to get the balance right I did a number of sketches and small paintings.


Getting the colour right on the sail was interesting as the sails are such a deep colour. I also wanted the composition to show movement, to show Britannia sailing again. The photo I had with the most detail was the middle one of the three photos above. The last two sketches were the ones that I thought had the most movement and worked best for what I had in mind.


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As you can see from the photo above I managed to get a decent likeness of the photograph, however I changed the compostion so that Britannia is sailing into the sun. Below is the finished painting, which will be presented this weekend. The trust will use the image for cards and merchandise to help raise funds to restore the boat, along with images from a number of gorgeous paintings of the boat that they have collected over the years. I’ve also put my sketches in mounts and they will be on sale too.

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I’ll keep you posted as to how we all get on.











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