Turner · Uncategorized · Water

Turner and water

Chichester Canal c.1828 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

Water in all its forms was a source of endless fascination and interest for Turner. It was for him an almost mystical element that gave his work not just a visual impact but an emotional depth. From the rivers of the Rhine  and the British Isles to the channel sea off Margate to tranquil smooth ‘mill ponds’ to storming seas Turner captures them all. Who is not familiar with the story of Turner requesting the ship’s captain to lash him to mast of the ship so he could feel the full force of the on coming storm. I think credit must be given to Turner for the notion of The Sublime and of nature being an inspiring force for poets and artists alike.

The next instalment of ‘my’ Turner in London course focused on this element of water. Much as we would have enjoyed a boat trip down the river we made do with the Thames foreshore. Getting off at Monument tube there is a spot nearby where you can climb down to the foreshore. My first piece of advice is check the tides as you will have a limited time for sketching. Secondly wear sensible foot wear and have a portable stool. Don’t be tempted to feel compelled to draw all the view in front of you, like Turner be selective and try to distil the essence. Easier said than done and it took me several attempts before I achieved what I was after. Another tip if the tide is against you take a photo of the scene and you can retreat back up the stairs to waterside safety.


The view of the Thames I was trying to capture


Capturing the essence in the rock formation against the ever-changing water patterns.


2 thoughts on “Turner and water

    1. Hello Seamus
      very glad you enjoyed my posting on Turner and water. If you are London based or planning a visit take yourself off to Tate Britain and book a session at the Prints and drawings room where you can view Turner’s sketch books, a most moving experience, an insight into the great man’s mindset.

      best wishes


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