Category Archives: Seascapes

Pushing Paint

Oil paint has many unique qualities, including variations in texture, from light, watercolor-like washes, to impasto strokes of full body oil. Lately, I’ve been exploring the latter, painting with a fully loaded brush that creates bold strokes of color (called “impasto”, the technique of laying on paint thickly so that it stands out from a surface).

I’ve found this technique to have many benefits: it gives painting a sculptural “presence” that reminds the viewer this isn’t a photograph, it’s made by a hand with passion; it allows for richer color and interesting edges, as the loads of adjacent paint strokes combine at the edges, creating a marbleized co-mingling of color; using impasto for foreground elements makes them move forward in the picture plain, especially if you paint the distance in a thinner wash; and finally, there’s something more about it that’s difficult to describe….I think it’s perhaps the fact that the painting’s fluid surface gives it an organic quality.

Here are a few recent seascapes painted in this vein:



Lifeguard Station


Lifeguard Station

8×10 inches
Unframed
$325 *



Cove, Maui


Cove, Maui

8×10 inches
Unframed
$250 *



Juicy Rocks & Surf

8×8 inches
Unframed
$250 *



Shell Beach Bluffs


Shell Beach Bluffs

8×10 inches
Unframed
$225 *



Sea Cliff Bluffs (San Francisco)


Sea Cliff Bluffs (San Francisco)

10×8 inches
Unframed
$225 *

Juicy Rocks & Surf
Juicy Rocks & Surf


Juicy Rocks & Surf

8×8 inches
Unframed
$250 *

San Francisco Pride Exhibition

For Pride month in San Francisco, I’ll be showing at both Spark Arts in the Castro and this national exhibition at the Harvey Milk Photo Center. Join me at the reception June 22nd. The works below can be purchased online now, but understand they can’t be shipped until after the show closes on July 21.

Exhibition Dates: June 22-July 21, 2019
Opening Reception: June 22nd, 2019 from 5:00 pm to 8:30 pm
Location: Harvey Milk Photo Center, 50 Scott St. San Francisco

In honoring the Stonewall riots 50 years ago, Harvey Milk Photo Center proudly present the Stonewall 50 Years Anniversary Art Exhibit. This exhibit is intended for artists to showcase their best contemporary artworks focusing on celebrating LGBTQ community.

I’m proud to exhibit the three pieces below.  The first has a LGBT theme, while the others are just simply beautiful paintings the center wanted to show. I really appreciate it when exhibitions like these don’t get hung up on homoerotic images, but instead embrace all the art our community creates.  Thank you Director David Christensen.

Cruising Laguna Beach, B.G. (Before Grindr)

Cruising Laguna Beach, B.G. (Before Grindr)
14×11 inches
Framed
$500 *


Point Lobos Water

Point Lobos Water
10×10 inches
Framed
$325 *


California Cove

California Cove
20×16 inches
Framed
$1,200 *

The show is presented by: Dave Christensen, Director, Harvey Milk Photo Center; Nicola Bosco-Alvarez, Entertainment Producer; with exhibition illustration by Illustration by Gordon Silveria.

Seeking Balance in Plein Air Painting

“Isn’t it intensity of thought rather than calmness of touch that we are seeking?  And in impulsive working conditions such as these, out on site and of this nature, is a calm, well-ordered touch always possible? Dear Lord, it seems to me no more so than when on the attack in fencing.” 

Vincent VanGogh in a letter to fell artist John Russell

VanGogh captures perfectly the essence of a struggle plein air painters face: balancing the heart and head in the battle to create art on the spot.  When you’re painting, how do you balance the impulsiveness driven by the excitement of the moment, with a deliberative approach that substitutes intuitive painting for thoughtful—and some would say “tight”–painting?  Or is this a false choice and do both?

Painting and studying with some of the best in our field inform my opinion.  Of those teachers, the great Ken Auster comes to mind.  In short, his approach was that you start with the head (deciding what to paint and why, designing the picture, drawing…), move to the heart (reacting, for creating the kind of expressive brush strokes and sophisticated grays he’s known for) and end with the head to thoughtfully consider the painting from an objective standpoint, and ask yourself, “is it done?” Judge it.

I agree with much of what Ken taught me about this question, but I have a slightly different although complementary take: Painting en plein air is possible through building a solid foundational of skills that make automatic as much of the process as possible in the moment.  

Have you ever commuted home from work, realizing when you got there you were on complete auto-pilot, barely remembering the drive?  That’s what building a skill means to me: having the most complete toolbox of artistic skills so that I can be intuitive and responsive to nature without thinking about it. I want to use my heart completely in a picture.  This is my goal, but I’m not quite there yet.  I’ve worked in the corporate world too many years to escape a structured, self-critical mind. 

But like Ken, I do start and end deliberatively. Perhaps this is my failing, or an essential truth to live with.

This is a painting of mine that represents for me this principle. I started with a careful design—especially large shapes, light and shadow—and switched to a complete intuitive state (athletes call it “the zone”). I skipped the evaluation, self-judgment phase until the next day.  I’m glad I did.  I like it just as it is.

China Cove, Oil on panel, 8x6"
“China Cove”, oil on board, 8×6″, Click for availability.

new coastal paintings

On the way to and back from my recent solo show in San Francisco I stopped at Pacific Grove (and other spots) to paint plein air, capturing natural light in what was a beautiful week. I hope you enjoy these new works. All available online unframed (reach out to me if you’d like a price quoted for framed works).

Pacific Grove Bluffs, Oil on board, 12x9
Pacific Grove Bluffs, Oil on board, 12×9

$325


Pacific Grove Color Study, Seascape, Oil on wood, 8x8
Pacific Grove Color Study, Seascape, Oil on wood, 8×8

$200


Pacific Grove Rocks & Surf, Seascape, Oil on board, 10x10
Pacific Grove Rocks & Surf, Oil on board, 10×10

$325

2037 Pacific Grove Light Study, Seascape, Oil on board, 8x8
Pacific Grove Light Study, Oil on board, 8×8

$200


Shell Beach,Seascape, Oil on board, 9x12
Shell Beach, Oil on board, 9×12

$325

January San Francisco Show

I will be showing the landscapel below at the Harvey Milk Photo Center January 8-February 7 with Art Saves Lives, curated by Thomasina DeMaio. The reception will be held January 18th, with live music featuring the incredible Tribal Baroque! It will be an amazing reception, hope to see you there.

  • What: Winter Exhibition
  • Where: Harvey Milk Photo Center, 50 Scott Street, San Francisco, CA
  • When:
    • Reception: January 18th, 6-9pm
    • Show runs January 8-February 7

Padre Place Color Study

Padre Place Color Study
12×9 inches
$575


Montana de Oro (Last Light)

Montana de Oro (Last Light)
9×12 inches 
$525


Ragged Point Sunset
9×12 inches 
$750


San Luis Obispo Show: Painting on the Buchon Trail

“For a few weeks in August, 1976, Hollywood magic flipped the coasts of the United States and transformed the coast south of Moñtana de Oro State Park into Passamaquoddy, Maine. A lighthouse was built near Point Buchon as  part of Pete’s Dragon, the most expensive Walt Disney production to date.”  So reported local papers as Disney built a lighthouse on the Buchon Trail, the subject of a new show at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art October 5-8.  I’m honored to be one of several invited artists invited to capture this landscape “en plein air” for a show of paintings fresh off the easel. The gallery above shows some of the paintings I plan to hang.

This incredible coastal area was only opened to the public a few years ago, and as far as I know, this is the first show dedicated to the unspoiled beauty of this land.  Being there last week, driven with my painting equipment in a 4-wheel drive on seldom used private dirt roads, I had a chance to see how the earliest Native Americans and their Spanish invaders witnessed an unspoiled California coast.

If you’re an artist or collector, chances are you’ve seen countless paintings of Laguna Beach, Point Lobos or Morro Bay–but you’re unlikely to  have seen this incredible landscape chosen by Disney studios to amaze movie goers.

And it is an amazing landscape.  Of particular interest (which I’m not posting here–come to the show and see it!) are the large rock stacks just off shore that are considered the “Stonehenge of the Pacific.”  They really are incredible, and I had a great time painting them to prepare for the show with fellow artists.  Several of us painted these icons, and they’re each unique.  Come see what each artist saw.

So, join us, by either viewing the show at the museum, and/or watching the artists (including me) paint the area live.  As a bonus, the proceeds from the show will help fund this local icon of Central Coast arts, the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art.  Click here for more detail, if you come, say hello!

Moss Beach

This is one of my favorite places to paint.  It’s nearby, and has many of the features of far away (well, 1.5 hours) Point Lobos.  I’ve been painting gouache studies recently for ease of travel, and they translate well to oil, being opaque.  I like this study and will–someday–paint a large studio version.  The ArtSavesLives gallery has offered me a solo show, so perhaps sometime in 2017.  For now, this is available on my Facebook Store here, framed for $300.

Moss Beach (late afternoon, plein air), gouache on paper, 8x8"
Moss Beach (late afternoon, plein air), gouache on paper, 8×8″

Variations on a Theme

I was speaking to someone on a airplane last night about the visual arts and how they relate to music. Here’s my analogy: In high school, I played jazz trombone. Key to that genre is the ability to improvise. It’s a beautiful thing to hear a musician create new music on the fly during an improvisation. What may seem to be a beautiful, but haphazard, run of notes is actually the result of playing within the composer’s written sequence of cord progressions. The jazz musician creates in the moment, but she does so based on what’s in front of her: sheet music (in a sense). The same is very much true of those artists that create variations based on a theme. The subject is the theme (sheet music) and the art is the variation (improvisation).

For me, a recent theme has been Moss Beach, here in Northern California. The series of paintings below shows how I’ve studied this area, and created variations on this landscape. The first three paintings are based on the same spot, but with different mediums–oil, watercolor–and different perspectives. The last 4 are looking in a different direction, but again, studies of the same view using different mediums and ideas. From these studies, I’m learning to record and compare my feelings for the spot so I can later determine what resonates and where to build upon–as, for example, a larger studio work.

I hope you enjoy these improvisations of Moss Beach. More to come.

Moss Beach Cove, Oil on Linen, 9x12
Moss Beach Cove, Oil on Linen, 9×12

Moss Beach Cove, Watercolor, 6x6
Moss Beach Cove, Watercolor, 6×6″

Moss Beach Study, Watercolor, 9x12
Moss Beach Study, Watercolor, 9×12

Moss Beach Bluffs 1, Watercolor, 6x6
Moss Beach Bluffs 1, Watercolor, 6×6

Moss Beach Study 2, Watercolor, 6x6
Moss Beach Study 2, Watercolor, 6×6

Moss Beach Bluffs 5, Watercolor, 4x6.5
Moss Beach Bluffs 5, Watercolor, 4×6.5″

 

Moss Beach Bluffs #3, Oil on Linen, 12x9
Moss Beach Bluffs #3, Oil on Linen, 12×9″

Moss Beach Seascapes

I’ve found a new favorite place to paint, Moss Beach.  The spot I found (at Juliana Ave, Moss Beach, CA 94038) is small, but has it all: Monterey Cypress, ice plant, bluffs, a small beach. It’s also closer than favorite spots like Point Lobos, so I expect to return here often.

Enjoy this latest work, and as always, your comments are welcome.

This study is probably my favorite, as it’s closer to the loose, painterly approach that I’m aiming for.

Juicy Surf, Oil on Linen, 9x12
Juicy Surf, Oil on Linen, 9×12″

Here’s a gray day view of the bluffs.  Painting on gray days is often under-valued by artists, who prefer full sun, but gray days keep the light consistent for a longer period of time, so the plein air painter has more time to complete a painting.  You’re not “chasing the sun”.

Moss Beach Bluffs (Gray Day), Oil on Linen, 11x14
Moss Beach Bluffs (Gray Day), Oil on Linen, 11×14

 

Moss Beach Bluffs #2, Oil on Linen, 11x14
Moss Beach Bluffs #2, Oil on Linen, 11×14

 

The Whimsy of San Gregorio

Recently, I’ve found a new muse in San Gregorio State Beach (CA).  It’s a wonderful, unique stretch of beach on the northern coast of California.  It’s a site full of whimsy: high art castles and lowly shacks, all made of driftwood from the sea.  A great past time there is to build all kinds of structures from the gnarled, twisted wood spread across the beach.  Kids just have a wonderful time building things and exploring “the neighborhood” of structures and arrangements around them.  I haven’t painted a full edifice yet, but starting my study of the place with by painting studies of little stretches of beach in different weather, full sun and foggy days, to get to know the place.

Beach Shack by Ian Crocket
Beach Shack by Ian Crocket

I painted the study below Sunday.  For me, it was a day of escape.  I didn’t sleep much the night before due to a nagging sinus headache that would continue a couple days, including this day. I knew that once I started painting and entered “the zone“–or in physchology, “flow“, which is “the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does” (source: Wikipedia).  Someone asked me how long I’d been working, and I truly had the no idea.  At first I thought, I don’t know, 10 years (thinking she meant total time painting), and then realized she must have meant the study, so I said an hour.  I’m sure it was much longer.  The headache did cease while painting!  Amazing things can happen when one finds something so absorbing to do.  I’m very lucky to have that.

So while I work on concepts for something larger in the studio, here are a couple recent studies to enjoy.  The last (below) will be featured in an article I wrote for the June edition of PleinAir Magazine.  I’m very excited about that!

As always, I’d love to know what you think, so please enter a comment on my blog.  Cheers, – Ed

San Gregorio State Beach CA (Sunny Day), Oil on Linen, 10x8
San Gregorio State Beach CA (Sunny Day), Oil on Linen, 10×8

 

San Gregorio State Park, CA (overcast day), Oil on Linen, 10x8
San Gregorio State Park, CA (overcast day), Oil on Linen, 10×8