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Shell Beach

Shell Beach, John o' Groats - watercolour - 25 x 36 cm

A short walk from the tourist hotspot of John o' Groats there is a beautiful, quiet beach. It is made up of broken shells instead of sand, giving it a gleaming white colour and making it look almost like a tropical atoll, especially on a sunny day when the sea is deep blue.

This beach is one of the best places to look for the small shells of the Northern Cowrie, which are known locally as 'Groatie Buckies'. Unbroken shells were used in the Stone Age as ornaments and they have even been used as a form of currency.


  1. Reminds me a bit of Northern California, the Pacific Coast .. Rocky but no, no shells there
    Well done, Keith.

    1. Thanks Barbra Joan. I expect the water is a bit warmer there as well!

  2. Hi there Keith!... What a wonderful start you've made in 2013 with this superb panorama!

    It displays all of the hallmark standards which make a Tilley watercolour so special. I love the driving... diagonally-driven... dynamic quality of your design. The way you play with the viewer's eye and dispense bits of interest and visual information scattered randomly throughout the entire surface of the painting! Even the bare "blip" of a light located distantly on the upper right cliff sya so much... with so very little! The raking shadow is warm and lush- an effective foregroound detail!

    And most of all... the historic tour that you offer... with bits of history that further bring your painting and your experience together... sublimely, yet with such force that transcends merely the "seeing" paret in a visit! Another gem Keith!

    Good Painting! Happy New Year to you... and yours!
    Warmerst regards,

    1. Hi Bruce, thanks for your perceptive critique. I was a bit bothered that there was too much diagonal movement, but the crashing surf brought it back into line.

      All the best and Happy New Year
      to you and Deb,

  3. Another masterful painting Keith. I agree with everything Bruce has so eloquently written but would add how much I like that sky. Your sky's are always very impressive and this one is no exception. Not dramatic, powerful or strong ... just very natural. Great work. ;)

    1. Thanks John, I think it always pays to give a bit of thought to the sky, even if it isn't the main part of the painting.

  4. Beautiful Keith. So many of your works convey lovely scenes of tranquility, seeming painted with such ease and slight of stroke - I wonder if Scotland is mostly like that; I've never been.

    1. Thanks Frank. There is certainly a lot of tranquillity to be found here but there is also plenty of drama, especially in the mountains.


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