En plein air with Haidee-jo Summers at Staithes

I went on a plein air painting workshop with Haidee-jo Summers in Staithes, North Yorkshire. I managed to complete five paintings and have one unfinished due to watching Haidee demonstrate and an oncoming migraine.


We started off on Friday morning with tonal value paintings. Lots of squinting all around! The hard part was trying to decide just what to paint. We were asked to stick together to make it easier for Haidee to spend more time helping us, but there was still too much choice. I made the harbour wall decision based on the colour of the boats…. when painting a tonal study. Doh.

So a good job on recognising that red boat is the same tonal value as the harbour wall, but a somewhat boring composition. therisingtide staithes


On the afternoon, with Haidee to help me with my drawing I tackled the buildings. I love how higgedly-piggedly they are, very tall and narrow with many chimneys and small roofs. I need to remember you don’t have to put every window in, and the negative space of the sky is just as important to the composition.

cowbar nabOn Saturday morning ,full of confidence and excitement to paint I got up at 5am to catch the morning light, stopping at the first spot that caught my eye by the dumpster outside the Cod and Lobster. This is a view of Cowbar Nab and the lifeboat house. I then dashed off for breakfast to start the day.

cowbar bank, staithes cropped

Buoyed up I started trying to paint this one of Cowbar Bank without having completed an accurate drawing. Note to self. Draw it out first! I was letting my brain tell me what i was seeing. With a lot of help from Haidee I have realised that the roofs of house at this angle are diamond shape, not a rectangle! I also stopped for lunch before putting in some windows.

pennynab and staithes harbour and the most painted house in staithes susannaheath

On Saturday afternoon I hadn’t drank enough water throughout the day, and didn’t go back for more while watching haidees demonstration so this painting languishes unfinished. The ROI was also out and about painting, so there was so much going on. Other artists to chat to, inspiration to be had and much pocharde/easel envy to be had.

On Sunday morning people where leaving extremley slowly. I got one more painting in before going for coffee in Dottys. You have to go to Dottys in Staithes.


Having decided I wanted to paint the boats on the mud at low tide in the harbour, I immediately regretted it. So complex! But remembering the advice from the past two days and some help from haidee and David Curtis got me through.

low tide at staithes harbour Susanna Heath

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