Category Archives: Seascapes

SLO Plein Air, Day 1

First day of the competition, and thankfully awoke to sunshine. First sun I’ve seen here in the two days I’ve been here. Nice. I ended up painting this morning at Montana De Oro in a cove there. At least 4 other painters were visible. I’m happy with this one. I might bring out the reflections of the cliffs a bit more in the water. What do you think?

Dover in San Luis Obispo

“Dover in San Luis” – Oil on Linen – 11×14

This was a quicky…maybe, 20 minutes? I meant to paint the bluffs again, but as I was setting up I noticed how the light was hitting these stepping stones of white cliff. Don’t know if it’s a keeper or not. The other artist on the beach with me really liked it.

Natural steps

Nature’s Steps – Oil on Canvas – 6×8

Painting to Trade

Fellow art blogger Peter Yesis has come up with an innovative program. Like most artists, Peter collects. It gets expensive, especially when you have the taste of an artist. Peter’s idea is to trade a piece–monthly–amongst the collection of worldwide daily artist bloggers. I love this idea. Of course I’ve traded before, but doing so in this open network widens the possibilities.

So Peter, here’s my work for yours. Let me know what you think.

I will tend to post “painters paintings” for trade, those pieces that typically only other painters “get” (sorry, if you’re a collector, you have good taste too…just sometimes slightly different from one who’s covered in paint day to day…maybe it’s the lead 😉 For me, this piece is about sculting rock with paint. I had fun with the wonderful color variations of the rocks and fauna. I had a good day. My sister, Elizabeth, was visiting me from Lincoln, Nebraska (hey, Peter’s from Nebraska too…is it kismet?).

Key Hole Rock

Key Hole Rock (Laguna Beach) – Oil on Linen – 9×12

Click to enlarge

Good News from Filoli

I received a nice email from Filoli today, two of my three paintings sold the first weekend of the show!

“It was great fun because the buyer was from the San Mateo County Counsel’s Office, looking specifically for art of San Mateo County! She was thrilled with your paintings. They will be hung in their office…”

I guess I can say now that my art is in the San Mateo County art collection!

Bean Hollow, Golden Light
Oil on Linen, 11×14

Hillside Light
Oil on Linen, 12×16″

“Joaquin Sorolla” Biography

I have just received a new book well worth checking out, “Joaquin Sorolla” by Blanca Pons-Sorolla. The book is filled with astonishing images. I’ve of course seen his work in museums before and have heard many artists I admire (including Barry John Raybold (Virtual Art Academy) and Ted Georschner) rave about his work.

JARDÍN DE LA CASA SOROLLA, 1920 by Joaquin Sorolla

It’s incredible that an artist of this level isn’t as well known as, say, John Singer Sargent. Don’t you think?

I found many images fascinating, but unfortunately many are in private collections, so I can’t find Internet images of them. One example is “El Cabo de San Antonio. Javea, 1896” on page 101 of the book. The image reads like a striking photograph and yet when you look closer you see how “painterly” he was. That to me as an ideal I’m striving for: two paintings in one. From a distance, a striking image of reality (more so than can be accomplished with the limitations of photography, in terms of accurate values, color, etc) and another up close, one of fluid brush strokes, marbled color combinations, etc.

These are paintings that truly inspire me.

To see more, visit the Sorolla Museum web site (Madrid).



University of California, Berkeley

Hey, this is cool. I got a call today from the Chancelor of the Biology School at UC Berkely asking permission to use the painting below on a poster advertising their Microbiology conference at Asilomar Conference Center. I did a series of sand dune paintings last year. Funny enough, not great sellers, although one in particular (that hasn’t sold yet) was accepted to several prestigeous exhibitions.

I gave them my persmission and just asked for a copy of the poster…

Asilomar Dunes – Oil on Canvas – 12×12″

Gray vs. Color, Part II

In a previous post, I lamented my struggles with color–specifically, finding a balance between grays and pure color. I received good feedback in comments (thanks Jan and Bart) and made changes to the painting (see before and after images below). The changes may appear subtle, but I think the graying down parts of the painting made it more realistic and interesting. Thanks for your help!

“Near Devils Slide”

“Near Devils Slide”

Verde Artist Guild Paintout

We had a great turnout at today’s Verde Artist Guild paint-out. I’d guess at least 20 artists. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooporate. I got there at 9am and it was completely overcast, foggy. I thought I’d just do a quick “gray day” painting until it cleared up, but…no such luck.

Even so, everyone painted away in true Plein Air tradition!  I’ll post my gray-day painting tomorrow.
Verde Artist Guild Paintout July 2006 - Pescadero - CA -1
Verde Artist Guild Paintout July 2006 - Pescadero - CA -2

My Battle: Gray vs. Color

I study a lot with Colorists, because my direction for some time has been to use color to the fullest, as a form of expression equal to design, subject matter, and all the other things that influence the appeal of a painting.  I also go back-and-forth (or, perhaps this is just learning) between colors and grays, to find the right balance.  One teacher emphasizes the use of grays to give pure color a stage to sing on.  I think he’s right, and I know I’m struggling to find that balance.

A case in point is this painting I did the other night.  I painted this in my studio via an image projected via television to a connected digital camera. SIDEBAR: Have you tried this?  You’ll never paint from a photograph again, I guarantee it, if you try this method. Projecting with light (be it a TV, slides, whatever) is the best way to see into shadows and get a better representation of the values in a scene.

The column on the left shows the scene from the photograph, in color and in greyscale below it.  The right column is the same, but my painting.  Looking at the grey scale comparisons, I think they’re fairly close.  Yes, the sea could have been a bit lighter, as well as the sky, but in general the values are close to what they should be.  Of course the job of an artist is to interpret, not capture as a photograph, but I’m still seeking for a degree of realism

The color is another story.  I think I really over-saturated the scene. I wanted to push the color, but I ended up pushing every color instead of selectively. I think the painting would have been stronger had I taken this approach–in fact, why not, I’ll paint over this with grays and see how it goes (upcoming post!).

Photograph – Color

Painting – Color

Photograph – B&W

Painting – B&W

On reason I started thinking about color saturation was I spent some time last night checking out the web sites of some of my favorite painters–unfortunately, most of which are not bloggers, so no RSS feeds!   With the “A”s, I quickly ended up on Brent Jensen’s site, whose URL you’ll find in the sidebar of my blog (“Favorite Painters”).  Brent is an occasionally painting partner (when I’m down in Southern California, his home, or when he comes up my way).  We’ll get to paint together at the San Luis Obispo Plein Air Festival in October.  He’s also studied with some of the same colorists, so it’s interesting for me to compare our work.

I think Brent is doing some really wonderful work!  In particular, I am noticing a change in how he represents color (in addition to some really wonderfully loose brushwork).  I’ve copied some samples below that illustrate this.  He’s really carefully controlling color, and has lots of interesting, subtle grays.

by Brent Jensen

By Brent Jensen

So, hear I go: the every-ending sea-saw between gray and color.  I’ll find the balance, eventually.  As always, your comments appreciated on the subject.

Central Coast National Fine Art Competition

Great news! I’ve just learned that this competition has accepted two of my paintings for their show August 10 – September 17, 2006 at at the Morro Bay Art Association. I will not be able to make the reception, but it is Saturday, August 12, 7-10pm.
Here are the paintings accepted:

Last Light, Eucalyptus
Oil on Linen, 16×20

Beach Town
Oil, 9×12

Being Subtle

Today, I choose a subject where I could exercise some control, subtlety. In the water, I focused on slight shifts in warm/cool colors.

“Simple Seascape”, Oil on Linen, 8×10

A good way to judge whether your values are correct, is to look at your painting in greyscale, as shown below. This “reads” well in black/white, so I feel the values are on target:

Work in Progress

Bean Hollow Painting Animation

I’m often asked about demonstration my process, in order to see how paintings progress. The painting on the left is an example of the progression I can go through. The animation starts with the original painting, then shows the changes I made, in part based no a crtitique by Ted Georschner. In the final painting (which will be in my show opening January 3rd! Plug, plug), I did the following

  1. I darkened significantly the bottom of the painting. This allowed the viewer’s eye to focus where I wanted them to focus, on the golden light lit ice plans on the hillside. Darkening the bottom of a painting like this was also a technique used by Edgar Payne.
  2. I added some trees atop the bluff. This pushed back further the background trees, and it gave me a nice dark to help the ice plants look even more illuminated. An artist will often surround a light with darks to help punch it up. The range of our pigments is a small fraction of that found in light, so we rely on techniques like that to strengthen light.