In these two studies (painting at Asilomar, just north of Carmel) I was focusing on the use of dark transparent colors to represent the ocean. click on the paintings to see the detail. Notice how the use of transparent Ultramarine Blue gives it a nice watercolor-like glow. Even though it’s a dark color, it reflects the white board underneath, so it gives it the feeling of both being dark and light at the same time. To create the reflection of light on water, I wiped away more of the paint to show the white ground, rather than paint a second color on top. BTW, pure Ultramarine is too intense to represent the Pacific, so I deaden the color, generally with a Cad Red, or sometimes with Gamblin’s Chromatic Black–a great transparent Black that will reduce the chroma of any color.
Davenport, CA (just north of Santa Cruz) has some really dramatic bluffs that make great subjects for a painting. The light/shadow colors of the bluffs are interesting because they are light colored, and so reflect light from many different sources, including the sea, land, other rocks nearby, etc. It’s a fun subject to paint, and a somewhat common theme in my work (eg, 1, 2, 3, and 4). As always, comments welcome. Enjoy!
Seemingly out of the blue Friday, during an especially cold and rainy Winter, we experienced a sunny warm day Saturday. It was 70 degrees (F) on the coast! I jumped in the car with my trusty dog Gracie and headed to nearby Half Moon Bay. This pier is in Pillar Point Harbor, where fisherman sell their catch daily “direct from the boat” . The yellow fishery has always interested me for the striking color and shadows it creates. And while I painted this, Gracie had a great time chasing birds and dragging seaweed around. Enjoy!
A couple recent paintings today, one exploring new ideas, the other a bit more traditional.
This first painting is from a reference photo of Avila Beach, taken during San Luis Obispo Plen Air last year. I was in a cliff looking down. I always liked the abstract qualities of shape and color in this photo, but thought the near top down perspective might be a bit odd. It’s less traditional, which I appreciate as I explore abstraction in my work. I like the simplicity of this, yet I think this study could make an interesting larger work. Color-wise, I think this painting works well because I’ve balanced out warms/cools and color saturation–both from he difference between the rocks vs water.
This was painted from a reference photo taken in the Palm Springs area–I believe 1000 Palms, when I took a workshop with Mark Kerckhoff there a couple years ago. Funny how these bits/bytes are the physical reality of the moment, until recreated in oil years later. I’m pretty happy with this study, though I wonder if the brush just about the boulders are too saturated and yellow. What do you think?
Busy couple days, but finally ready for the show tomorrow night! It rained all day today, but I was able to finish a painting of a Venus-like statue at Edgewood Orchard Galleries. Last night, finished two paintings for the “Evening with the Artists” sunset reception. I did both a late afternoon/pre-sunset work and a really fun nocturne, both of which I hope to post tomorrow. My second Cavepoint painting below was painted yesterday, which was really productive!
Last week I met an old CNET friend for lunch in Sausalito (@Fish), and since I had the morning open I brought my plein air kit to paint a bit. I’ve been painting in my studio lately because my next “big goal” is to scale my work up. Paining this reminded me of what I like about plein air painting: the immediacy, fresh, no-fuss impression. Keeps me loose. I suppose the best way to grow is to continue to mix plein air, ala prima and studio and try to find the right balance.
I am having a lot of trouble painting larger works. Technically, I have to get used to painting on dry (or semi-dry) surfaces, but mentally, it’s difficult for me to sustain the emotional energy I expend on small works. Have you faced these kinds of challenges? How have you made this transition?
Painting copies of artwork you admire is a great way to learn. Joaquín Sorolla is one of my favorite painters, so I can open “Joaquín Sorolla” (Museo Nacional Del Prado) to any page and find a work of inspiration to copy. Like this one. Funny thing is, I opened the book, and found later this is a detail of a larger painting! I had a feeling it was an odd composition (having the two people on the edge of the canvas), so it was nice to see the full composition on the next page.
Even so, copying “Sewing the Sail” (1904) was a great lesson in composition and color. I learned how Sorolla used the folds in the sail to lead directly to the figures, and even the shadows in the sand. Look how the main shadow folds in the sail lead directly to the center of interest (foreground person). I was also surprised someone how intense many of these colors were, but how adding a complement (violet to the orange) would bring down the intensity just enough (although, comparing mine to his now, I see I should have used even more violet).
This was also a great study in brushwork. The original is much larger, but I was able to adapt my brushwork to this scale (10×8) to lay down some juicy brushstrokes, particularly on the sunlit side of the sails.
Two days of cloudy/foggy weather in Big Sur (CA) gave me chance to relax a bit. The sky cleared completely on my last day, so I was able to get a couple done on my way to the paint-out at Hearst Castle.
Getting a great block-in is really important. To me, that means a great design, division of space, interesting shapes, etc. I liked this one enough to photograph. Cool, huh?
And here’s the finished painting, or “near finished”. I think the rocks are a bit too warm/red (and actually, my camera over-saturates reds), so what you’re seeing is redder than you see here. The rocks are granite, with other reddish tones, so a blue-ish violet should improve it.
I started the day with this quick study to warm up. For small studies like these, I look for an opportunity to represent both the shadow and light side in each element. Here, was able to do light/shade for almost all elements in the painting.
My trek to Hearst Castle has started in Point Lobos, where I got two good days of painting in. Point Lobos is located just south of Carmel, CA, where all men wear khaki (only), and there’s no one to give my spare change to (…coincidentally, the very first store you see on your way into town is called “Khaki”!).
Lucky me, the fog only started to roll in as I finished my last painting! Tomorrow, I head for Big Sur for a couple days. I ran into Carol Brightman Johnson, who is in town for next week’s Carmel Art Festival. Thanks, Carol, for taking this picture!
Here’s my first effort. I obviously pushed the color quite a bit in this one, and in fact, so far all my work this week is going there. I need to be careful about this, because I feel the paintings risk loosing balance, and start to look trite. Tomorrow’s forecast is cloudy-rain, so maybe I’ll do a couple gray day studies to swing back to center a bit.
This quick study is much simpler. I focused on getting the color of the water right, which is pretty challenging here.
Yes, I push color, but the turquoise green water in this painting is real. In fact, I so wanted that color to be the focal point, I started the painting from there, and worked my way outward.
And finally, this is the last one of the day, and my personal favorite. The colors of white-ish bluffs in shadow are really fun to paint. Lots of warm/cool color and interesting shapes. The painting below reminds me of this one done at Montana del Oro for SLO a few years ago.
While painting this seascape the other night, I took snapshots of progress so I could create a demonstration video. I think the process I followed here is somewhat typical, but I always feel free to alter it to meet the needs of the moment. See my YouTube channel for more of my own demos, as well as those by Peggi Kroll-Roberts, John Ebersberger, Kevin Weckback, Mark Kerckhoff, and Skip Whitcomb. These are just vidoes I’ve taken myself, but I also have a more extensive list of demos in my “Plein Air Demos” playlist (over 60). If you have a demo on YouTube that you’d like added to my plein air demos playlist, leave a comment with the video URL. Thanks!