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Brims Castle

Brims Castle, a few miles West of Thurso, is in a ruinous state now. It's rather overshadowed by the large, modern farm buildings next to it. Originally, I think, it would have consisted of a strong tower with a courtyard around it. The beach below would have formed a natural harbour. Later it seems to have had a large house added on to form a more comfortable dwelling. 

I used the controlled-wash method again for this painting and just three colours: French Ultramarine; Burnt Sienna; Raw Sienna.

Stage One
Starting on damp paper, I applied Raw Sienna to the bottom of the sky and then mixes of Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna over the rest. While it was still wet, I dropped in stronger mixes in some areas to establish some of the colour and tone.

Stage One

Stage Two
I let the whole painting dry and then I started to build up the mid-tones, still keeping everything fairly loose. I think, with hind-sight, I probably could have put more of these in at the first stage.

 Stage Two

Stage Three
I put in some stronger touches to sharpen up the painting.

Stage Three

Stage Four
I finished off with a few darks in the foreground to give some depth. I also felt that a background was needed. There is in fact a hill behind the castle, but I couldn't see it from my position down on the beach. I decided to use a bit of licence and put it in.

 "Brims Castle" - watercolour - 18 x 26 cm



  1. Love this painting. Thank you for sharing your progress steps.

  2. Great painting keith! I love the way you've captured the light. I can almost feel the fresh breeze when I look at it. It's also a very good example of how to use a limited palette.

  3. Hi there Keith!... Another finely tuned visual and historical "travelogue"... chocked full o' many tidbits of heritage information and a strongly represented view of this heritage site!

    Your adding in of your new process of working really adds another touch - an overall ambience of the "ghosts" who might have lived their entire lives a time when the castle bustled with life and energy.

    A beautifully and skillfully executed watercolour Keith. Another Tilley gem!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

    1. Hi Bruce, it's an interesting idea to compare the "ghost" of the image with the ghosts of the castle. Maybe it's an appropriate technique for depicting historical subjects.

      All the best,

  4. Keith, I followed the writing as I scrolled to the bottom to stop at each stage.
    Now how do you suppose I knew just how good this was going to wind up in the end.?
    Probably because I've seen your work and you can see the "I know what I'm doing' LOL! Thanks for the WIP ... love it.. BJ

    1. Thanks Barbra Joan. I wish I was always so sure that paintings were going to turn out well! :D

  5. Hello Keith, your tutorial and painting is very interesting. I was wondering if after the first wet into wet wash if you do anymore wet into wet work or if you then built up the painting by working wet onto dry.

  6. Hello Caroline, it's mostly wet onto dry after the first wash, but I soften edges with a damp brush where necessary. If I was doing a lot more work on a sky I would probably re-wet the whole area.

  7. I( love a good WIP Keith and really enjoyed reading about your process. As someone who is sometimes too slavish to reference photo's I really appreciated seeing the result of your 'artistic licence' with the distant hills. They make a big difference. Great work as always.

    1. Thanks John, even now I sometimes have to remind myself that I am making a painting and not trying to do the same job as a photograph. It's perfectly acceptable to move things around a bit if it makes a better composition.


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