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I painted this seascape for the most marvelous client. Her request charmed me. She wanted a seascape with no figures or land masses, beach, or boats; just waves, sky, and clouds. The waves and clouds must be rhythmic to inspire jazz improvisation. The painting must be large enough to fill the space above her piano.
The project presented some challenges, most of them having to do with size. Standard watercolor sheets are only 24 x 30 inches. She wanted a painting that was 36 inches wide, so the paper had to be special ordered. I don’t have an easel large enough to accommodate a painting this size, so I used my studio table. When I taped the paper to my studio table, there was no room left for water and brushes. To see how the painting looked from five feet back, I had to stand on a chair.
The other challenge had to do with how to create a path through the painting for the eye. I decided on a sideways “u” beginning on the bottom left following the breakers in and return across the horizon and out through a break in the clouds.
I presented it to the client this morning and I’m happy to say she loved it. It’s at the framers now.
The original belongs to a lovely pianist, but prints are available here.
This is a little painting I started just before we left on vacation and finished while we were en-route. Kinda fun putting the finishing touches on a beach painting while staying at a motel in West Yellowstone, Idaho. How much more land locked could I have been?
As with many of my beach paintings, I was trying to catch the immediacy of confronting the wall of water. It is an all consuming moment. In this case that all consuming moment was in the late afternoon, facing a back-lit ocean. People were almost silhouetted against it and the spray shown white.
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Believe it or not, this is February in Oregon. Where is the rain? I don’t know, it took a vacation for our vacation. I took a number of photos of these boys who were obviously enjoying the unseasonable weather. They seemed immune to the 62 degree water, and quite happy to get wet.
I painted this watercolor very traditionally starting which the sky which I painted wet into wet with ceruleum blue. I dropped in a mixture of cobalt blue and burnt sienna to give the clouds some depth.
Then I masked the foam and the boys. The ocean is a combination of phthalo blue, cobalt blue and burnt sienna. I used the phthalo blue mostly for the green cresting waving. After removing the maske, I spent much time scrubbing the hard edges left by the maske and lifting highlights from the waves.
I added the boys using burnt sienna, raw sienna, and quinacridarone rose form there skin. Their trunks are quinacridone rose, colbalt blue, and phthalo blue.
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I did this little painting at the gallery last Wednesday. It is another view of rocks below Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport, Oregon.
I painted it loosely without using mask reserving the white paper in the clouds, waves and foreground by painting around them. I added the spray on the rocks with opaque chinese white. I used phthalo blue, cobalt blue, raw sienna, burnt sienna, and a hint of quinacridone deep red rose.
This painting is currently on display at Art in the Valley, Corvallis, Oregon. You may still purchase it by mail on inquiry through the contact page of this blog.
On our last trip to Newport, my husband and I found a tiny little state park, not even big enough for a highway sign from 101 let alone our road atlas. It is a wave watchers paradise. Wet fireworks. We spent a happy hour there with out noticing either the time or how damp we were getting. This little part of the rocky headland didn’t produce such spectacular spray, but we were fascinated by the whirl pools the breakers kept forming against the rocks.
I began by masking the whites. Then I painted in the rocks in burnt sienna, phthalo blue, cobalt blue and a little raw sienna. The water is phthalo blue, burnt sienna, and raw sienna.
Like yesterday’s paintings, I did this little watercolor at the gallery last Wednesday. Postcard sized paintings work really well for gallery shifts. Space at the gallery for painting is limited and I want to be able to drop whatever I am doing to greet and talk to patrons. At this scale there’s hardly ever a bad moment to stop painting.
These little paintings make good sketches for working out larger work too. It’s so much easier to experiment with composition when the paper I’m risking is only 5 x 7.
The subject is Agate Beach in Newport at sunset. If the stream has a name, I don’t know it. And it wouldn’t surprise me to discover it seasonal runoff. It’s course over the sand varies every time I visit. But it’s always wide and shallow. This Spring the it’s mouth was over fifty feet wide and perhaps two or three inches deep. I liked the silver reflections in the late evening and early mornings.
The palette is burnt sienna, new gamgee (yellow), quinacridone deep red rose, cobalt blue and phthalo blue. I painted the sunset colors in tandem working first in the sky and then in the reflections and back again to the sky as I added new colors. I began with the yellows, then worked along through the oranges, reds, and purples. The purple is phthalo blue and quinacridone.
This is the view looking west from House Rock just north of Brookings, Oregon.
I’m not sure why House Rock is named House Rock. When we were on it we weren’t sure if we were supposed to be on it or looking for it. A little google search made it clear we were on it, but no information about the name. I have my guesses though. The hill was surprisingly flat on top and hiking down below it I discovered wild onion, wild iris, wild rose, and strawberries. Only the iris were in bloom. Many years of hiking around ghost towns have taught me which domestic plants go native when the settlers leave. Onions, rhubarb, strawberries and roses were common survivors in Colorado and they appear to be survivors here too. I think there was once a house on house rock, not that the rock is shaped like a house.
The palette is burnt sienna, raw sienna, cobalt blue, and phthalo blue.
This another painting of the beach at Brookings.
I just had to do one of the dogs. Dogs and beaches go together. So much to see. So much to smell. So many, many other dogs.
This older dog wasn’t tugging too hard, but he was strongly encouraging his person to walk faster. I want to see. I want to run. I want to go. I want to do.
I used my typical beach palette: burnt sienna, raw sienna, phthalo blue, cobalt blue. I masked the waves before painting to preserve the whites. Painted last Wednesday at Art in the Valley, Corvallas, Oregon.
We call my youngest daughter “Bird” and “Birdie” and even “Birdles” because she looked a little like a bird when she was a baby. It’s been a long time since I thought she looked much like a bird. But crouching down on the shoreline, she made me think of long leggity shore birds.
The palette is simple, cobalt blue, phtalo blue, qinacridone deep red rose, and burnt sienna. I used liquid mask extensively to make preserve the white paper.
See more little girl paintings at Fine Art America: girl paintings.
Last weekend I was in Brookings, Oregon for the Watercolor Society of Oregon’s Spring convention. We visit the coast often, but we rarely get so farther south than Florance. Brookings is on the California boarder and getting there from Salem efficiently requires dipping into northern California, hardly a hardship as the redwoods are on the boarder too.
The southern coast is a different. Brookings is a rocky rather than a sandy beach. The land drops off rapidly into the ocean there. The result is that the waves do not feel like them are above you as they do in Lincoln City, but they break larger closer in. I haven’t figured out how to paint the immediacy of Brookings breakers, but I’ll get it.
In the meantime, here are three postcard sized Brookings sunsets. I did the first on location and the other two at the gallery yesterday.
The people in the third one are my husband and youngest daughter. It was one of the few times anyone stood still on the beach that evening. Stephen and the girls were much too busy skipping stones to stand still.
These paintings are currently for sale on-line at my Etsy shop.
Art in the Vally’s December feature will be a group show of mini paintings. So yesterday during my gallery shift I painted another couple of postcard sized watercolors. (Update: One of these paintings did sell at the Art in the Valley show and the other sold the following day.)
These are the view north from Seal Rock Wayside, looking downs on the beach. Seal Rock is a great place for wave watching because the beach drops sharply into the ocean and the beach is ringed by rocks for the waves to crash against. If the tide is coming in, we can always happily waste an hour or two just wave watching there.
The palette for both paintings is cobalt blue, phthalo blue, cerulean blue, and burnt sienna. The cerulean is all in the sky.
Update: One of these paintings did sell at the Art in the Valley show and the other sold the following day.
When the tide comes in, the tide pools below Yaquina Head disappear under white foam and the fireworks begin. From the gravely beach you can see the breakers at eye level. Add sunshine through the clouds and the beautiful view becomes spectacular. I wish I could paint the sound because that’s pretty spectacular too.
My palate was cerulean blue, cobalt blue, raw sienna, burnt sienna, burnt umber and a hint of quinacridone deep red rose. I scrubbed and used some gouache chinese white where the spray hits the rocks. Otherwise the whites are reserved paper.
The rocks are multiple layers of raw sienna, burnt sienna, phthalo blue and cobalt blue.
One of our beach side pleasures is wondering the Newport’s history bay. Art galleries, fish packing plants, and novelty shops, private museums, restaurants and taverns mix indiscriminately along the bay front. But the best part of the bay is the fisherman’s wharf.
There is marina space for pleasure craft further down the road and across the bay. But I prefer the fishing boats. The yachts are are elegant under sail, but with their sails furled at port they look sad to me, like furniture under sheets. And few people tour the boats. The yachts are expensive and while not actually prohibited, visitors feel unwelcome.
The wharf remains full of life. Maintaining a fishing boat is an endless task and someone, usually several someones are always busy there. Tourists are smiled upon. Some these outfits sell fish and crab right off the boat. The sea lions chose the wharf piers for sunning too. They know where to fish scraps are.
The shape of the fishing boats may be elegant, but the boats themselves are not. Machinery, ropes, crates, boxes, tarps, crab pots, nets, buckets, barrels and other paraphernalia clutter the decks. Unlike the yachts the boats are often brightly colored. Fishing is a dangerous game and these men want to be visible.
We visit often enough that we remember many of the names. The Miss Law, The Sandra Fey, The Suki, The Destiny, The Golden Dolphin, The Orca, and many others. This is The Helen McColl. She was at the end of the pier guarded by sea lions. I took her picture because I liked her reflection and the rust on her side, an unusual sight on the wharf. She must have had a hard year.
I used primarily phthalo blue, cobalt blue, and burnt sienna. I used a hair of yellow ocher and made a couple high lights in white gouache. I painted the water and sky first, then alternated between the boat and her reflection making sure to use the same paint mix for each reflected part.
We spent last weekend on the beach. I took enough photographs to have seacape material for some time to come. While I was there I reworked Twixt Wind and Water. Here is the result. As you can see, I gave the painting considerably more sea-room to the left, so that she has something more to look into.
I began her hair with an under-painting of colbalt blue. Then I used layers of yellow ochre, burnt sienna, and cobalt blue to complete it. Quidacrone deep red rose provides the accent color in the hair band.
Her jacket is cobalt blue and prussian blue mixed on the palate.
The sea began as phthalo blue and burnt sienna with reserved whites. Then I changed my mind about much of the wave action and began experimenting with white gouache. To cover strong colors, gouache must be laid on fairly heavily. And even though I don’t use ultra white paper, gouache white is still bluer that the paper. Also, as I discovered gouache will washback into transparent watercolor and vice versa. Work a little gouache onto the paper and nothing painted there will ever be entirely transparent again.
The effect is interesting, but I think next time I’ll stick to transparent watercolors, unyielding to change though they may be. I like the translucency better.
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This is the second painting I’ve done of the tide coming in at Seal Rock Wayside. The first was a little postcard sized painting I did while demonstrating at the fair. That little painting sold immediately. I liked it too, so when expanding it to a full sized painting I didn’t mess around with the composition much. But I did want to get some more variety into the rocks and spray.
Like the previous painting, I began by reserving the whites with liquid mask while painting in the ocean and rocks. I used phthalo blue and burnt sienna for the ocean.
I used the same basic technique to lay down the rocks as I did with the first little painting. I started with raw sienna and quinacridone gold. Then I added burnt sienna and quinacridone deep red rose. While the burnt sienna and deep red rose were still wet, I dropped in cobalt blue and phthalo blue. Finally I added some heavy burnt sienna and some French Ultramarine.
Once the painting was dry, I scrubbed the edges of the rock where the spay hit them with a stiff filbert brush to show how the waves obscured them. Then I broke out the white gouache (an semi opaque white) and added more spray. Over the dark painted rocks the gouache white looks gray. I used the gouache primarily for the shelf of the biggest rock and the bases of the rocks on the shore side. Finally I pulled out the razor and scratched in fine white lines where the water spilled over the rocks and little cuts for droplets of spray. All four techniques work very differently, and each has a character of it’s own. I like the variety that resulted from using them all.
Or purchase a print at Fine Art America.
This is another little painting I did at the state fair. I used yet another photo of the two brothers who were trying to give a log back the the sea. No sign of the log here, just companionship and beautiful afternoon light.
The palate is once again phthalo blue, raw sienna, and burnt sienna. Burnt sienna is more orange than it is red; so the paintings that I do with this trio tend to be earthy in feel with blue-grays and brown-oranges where one might expect there to be purples. Obviously there are no bright reds either. I find this a useful pallet for the Oregon coast as it makes very easy to reproduce the actual colors of the beach and ocean. On bright days the addition of cobalt blue helps to get the water as blue as it really is.
This is another postcard sized painting I did while demonstrating at the fair. This particular one is yet another view of the two boys I had so much fun watching. They were trying to return a log to the sea. As the tide was coming in, it kept spitting it out. They were having a marvelous time.
The palette was my usual ocean foursome: cobalt blue, phthalo blue, raw sienna, and burnt sienna. The Northwest beaches here rarely show the ocean in bright colors. It’s a earth tone world on the Oregon beaches.
I reserved the figures and the whites with liquid mask before painting the ocean and beach. Notice that the crested waves in the foreground are greener than the waves in the background. When a wave crests you can see into the water from the side and here isn’t much sky reflected into it. Consequently it tends to look green rather than blue, like the edge of a glass pane. I used cobalt blue for the background waves and the greener phthalo blue mixed with a little raw sienna for the crested waves. I like the effect.
After the paint dried, I lifted the mask and added the figures. I was very careful to preserve the whites on the front of their swim trunks. The light was strong that afternoon and I wanted to keep it in the painting.
I added the reflections as I added the figures. I didn’t reserve space for them with mask, because painting them over the beach and water colors mimics the way they really look.
Before demonstrating watercolor at the fair, I asked various other painters for advice. The message I heard loud and clear was never try to start or put the finishing touches on a painting while talking to the public. That’s good advice and I took it. But I found spending five days painting the middles of paintings unsatisfying and vaguely unsettling. So I also painted some little postcard sized paintings from start to finish too. Yesterday’s postcard sized painting was one of those. Here’s another one.
I think I took the reference photos on Lincoln City Beach, but it could be anywhere. What matters about this image is sun and sparkle contrasting with cool water. Also, I just love the way both mommy and daughter appear just a hair afraid of the waves, but they are right at the edge anyway.
I used phthalo blue, burnt sienna, yellow ochre and added little quinacridone deep red rose for the figures. The “sparkle” is reserved white created by splattering the page with liquid mask. I didn’t have a toothbrush to splatter with so I used a stiff filbert brush.
Seal Rock Park is one of our favorite waysides on Highway 101. This little painting shows a small part of the view north from the headland looking down at a string of volcanic rocks ringing the shore.
Last winter I took a series of photos of the waves crashing against the rocks as the tide came in. The photos look good in black and white but strangely lifeless in color. The contrast between the black rocks and the white waves is almost too much for color. So I left the photos on the back burner. But earlier this week I decided to try a small close-up view just to get me started.
To solve the overly black rock problem, I decided to make the rocks a chocolate brown. I began with raw sienna, and layered burnt sienna over the top. Then, while the burnt sienna was still wet or in some cases damp, I dropped in phthalo blue and let it interact with the sienna on the page. The result is almost as dark as the black in my photos but much more alive.
As usual I saved the white paper for foam and breakers with rubber mask. But I had a hard time getting the mask fine enough to show the run off down the base of the rocks. So when I tore the paper a little removing it from the pad (left of signature), I decided it was a good time to experiment with sgrafutto. After all, what did I have to lose?
Sgrafutto is an Italian term. It means to scratch the surface of multiple layers of color to reveal the lower layers. It’s a good technique for fine detail. In this case I used a razor blade to scratch through the brown rock to reveal the white paper below. Dragging the tip of the razor perpendicular to the cutting edge worked best. Dragging it toward the cutting edge produced a line so fine it didn’t show.
Now that I’ve tried it, I like this technique and I’ll use it to show more water against rocks in the future. I might also use it to show highlights in brick and stone.
The other technique I used to detail the spray is lifting. I moistened the edges of the rocks where they met the masked spray and scrubbed them a little with the brush. Then I took a dry thirsty brush and lifted as much of the paint as I could along the edges of the rock. You can see the results in along the left hand side of the largest rock and at the base of the far right rock.
I like this little painting and I’ll use the same techniques to make some larger versions of it later. I have plenty of rocks and breakers to play with.
I expected to sell prints, but not necessarily paintings at the Oregon State Fair. It isn’t exactly a traditional art venue. So I wasn’t surprised that I hadn’t sold a painting over the weekend. But surprise, surprise, I sold two framed originals today. “Fountain Dance” I blogged about when I painted it. It’s part of my Town Center Park “Splash” Series. Breakers is a little painting I did before beginning this blog.
You can purchase a print of either painting at Fine Art America.com
I haven’t been able to paint much recently, so I brought some things to play with at my mother’s. I started with another winter wave painting because they are becoming easy and familiar. This is my youngest daughter playing chicken with the surf. I think in the end she got her feet wet. My reference photo included both girls, but for composition reasons I left my eldest out.
The palette is cobalt blue, burnt sienna, raw sienna and opera rose. I rarely want anything as bright as hot pink, but when I do, Winsor and Newton’s Opera is a good choice. It’s hotter than anything I can mix by diluting my reds. It’s another quinacridone red, PR 122. And like most of the quinacridones it’s light-fastness is rated II, very good but not excellent. Also like the rest of the quinacridones its a very warm red.
The paint came to me by serendipity. Dick Blick’s sent me a sample on the same day I saw it used to effect in small touches in a large foresty landscape. I was painting a picture of a young woman with a hot pink plastic bucket. I grabed the new paint and discovered I liked it.
Do you remember the two brothers who were trying to send a log back out to sea? The tide was coming in and so the sea kept sending it back. I used another one of the photos I took of them that day to make this little postcard sized painting of the older brother.
The palette is phthalo blue, yellow ocher, and burnt sienna.
This painting is currently for sale on-line through my Etsy shop.
I love the ghostly look of the beach at low tide on a foggy morning. The beach stretches out forever half hidden in haze and strangely reflective, making the beach and the sky much the same color. The ocean swallows up all sound. All is quiet mystery.
But I have a hard time painting it. It is essentially nothing with variations. Here, to emphases the space and provide life are my daughters striding companionably into to that great emptiness filling it with sound and movement.
To paint the picture I masked the white waves, the foam and girls, but not their reflections. I painting the sky with burnt sienna and cobalt blue in multiple wet into wet layers. I painted the beach first in yellow ocher and than followed that with burnt sienna. I painted various mixtures of burnt sienna and cobalt blue wet on wet over the sand. The waves are a darker mixture of burnt sienna and cobalt blue painted wet on dry.
After the wet paper dried, I lifted the mask and painted the girls. The were actually dressed in brightly colored coats, but I painted them in more burnt sienna and cobalt to keep the monotone foggy feel of the beach. Then I dampened the area under the girls and painted in their reflections wet on damp.
I placed my signature carefully since in all that emptiness I knew it would be a design element.
This painting is currently for sale on-line through my Etsy Shop.
This is another little painting of the two brothers playing in the surf. They had found a log about half again as tall as either of them and were busy trying to return it to the sea. But as the tide was coming in, the sea kept giving it back. Here they have just finished taking it far so into the surf that they thought they had gotten rid of it. The victory dance was short lived. It came back. I don’t think they really minded though. They were having fun.
I used the same palette and method as the last little painting. First I masked the white foam and the boys. Then I painted the water and sand, beginning wet into wet and adding the details wet on dry. I painted the sand in with yellow ocher and burnt sienna right up to the first foam. I laid the thin layer of water reflecting the sky with blue cerulean right over the sand. I added the reflections last. When all was dry I removed the mask and painted in the boys and softened the foam.
Removable liquid masking is the easiest way to preserve small areas of white paper. I use Shiva Liquid Masque, but Winsor & Newton make a perfectly good mask too. The advantage to Shiva for me is that it’s slightly pink, making it easier for me to see where I’ve masked. Winsor & Newton is slightly yellow which I find harder to see against white paper.
Mask should be applied to bone dry paper. Use a synthetic brush well rubbed in hand soap to apply the mask. Resoap the brush regularly and wash it with soap afterwords. Don’t use water that has been used for masking when painting. Don’t remove the mask until the paint is bone dry. A rubber cement pick-up works best.
This painting is currently available on-line through my Etsy shop.
This is another postcard sized painting. I find it therapeutic to do these little paintings while I’m in the throws of getting ready to stock another polymer clay sculpture booth. While they don’t take as long as my larger pieces, it is challenging to get enough detail into these tiny paintings without overwhelming them with fussy little brush strokes.
I took endless photos of this young man and his brother last summer. They were very active and having a grand time playing in the waves. The light was beautiful and so were the boys. I may paint one or both of them again tomorrow.
The palette is cerulean blue, burnt sienna, and raw sienna. Substituting cerulean for my usual cobalt blue resulted in a greener and less gray sea. I used raw sienna rather than yellow ocher because ocher is on the green side of yellow and would have resulted in a pea green sea. For the boy’s skin and hair I used all three colors. The more I work with watercolor the more I am drawn to the sedimentary and metallic pigments. I have trouble with the organics.
This painting is available on-line through my Etsy shop.
This little painting is of three dogs we watched playing on the beach last February. As far as I could tell they all belonged to different groups of people, but they were very happy to meet each other. I took a number of photos of them and will probably make a larger painting from one of those photos later. This little painting is just the right size for a postcard.
My favorite palette again: burnt sienna, cobalt blue and yellow ocher.
Elizabeth Edwards of 1stAngel Arts Magazine has put together a beautiful side show of her favorite artists from First Angel’s Art Network the magazine’s FaceBook group. I’m honored to be among the fourteen artists she chose to include.
You can view the whole side-show here. Or you can go straight to my page of the show here. The slide-show is set to classical music. If you object to sound emanating from your computer, turn your sound off before entering.
Yes, it’s yet another painting of the children playing in the water feature at Town Center Park, Wilsonville, Oregon. What can I say? I love hot sun on skin. And the children were cute. This little girl in particular was adorable. She was all over that stream and happily oblivious to the camera.
This is my second painting on hot-pressed paper. The last was a rocky seascape and I used hot-press to get more luminous darks. That worked well.
I wanted to test the wipe-out properties of hot-pressed paper. Wiping-out means to paint solid color and then to lift the high lights. Hot-pressed paper wipes easier than cold-pressed or rough paper. It thought it would be a good technique for skin on a hot summer’s day. What I discovered is that it works well except for highly staining colors. Quinacridone deep red rose is highly staining. Actually I haven’t found a red I like that isn’t highly staining. The closest I’ve found is burnt sienna which is really an orange. I think I’ll wait for a less sunburn scene where I can use the raw sienna before trying wipe-out with hot-pressed paper again.
The palette was burnt sienna, colbalt blue, quinarindone deep red rose and yellow ocher. I reclaimed some whites with titanium white.
Or purchase a print at Fine Art America.com.
This is the head at Seal Rock Wayside park. A long ridge of basalt runs across the coast line. It creates tidal pools and spectacular waves along the beaches. At the the head it is wall defending the land from the sea. This is the view as you crest the last hill and look down on the wall barricading the head. The ridge is easy to climb and it really is a great place for whale watching.
This is my second attempt both at painting this view and at painting on hot-pressed paper. My first is in the entry below. My primary problem to begin with was poor compositional planning. The foreground came to a point almost dead center in the middle of the foreground. Last night I intended to correct the painting by sliding the point over. I found that impossible and so began the painting anew.
This time I established my darks first beginning with the outer ridge. The hot pressed-paper really does aid the creation of luminous darks. I will use it again for low key paintings.
The palate is cobalt blue, cerulean blue, phthalo blue, burnt sienna and yellow ocher. The Ridge is almost entirely grays made of of burnt sienna and the blues. Each of the blues produces a variety of interest grays and browns when mixed with sienna. I used a little yellow in the foreground cliff. I used Chinese white, cobalt blue and yellow ocher for the grass.
The Oregon coast is littered with spiny gray-black volcanic rocks. I love them, but it’s hard to get watercolor that dark without losing the vibrancy that drew me to the paint the first place. Last time I attempted this subject I painted on canvas because watercolor can be laid on canvas much more thickly than on paper. There are things I like about this approach to the problem.
As you can see above, canvas does allow for very dark values. But there are problems with this approach. For one thing, watercolor lifts extremely easily from canvas and so I lost some of my ability to layer washes effectively. Also wipe-out techniques tend to return the canvas to white rather than merely lightening the paint.
This is the beginning of my experiment with hot-pressed paper.
Like canvas, hot-pressed paper will take higher value darks than my favorite cold-pressed paper. The reason is much the same– more paint sits on the slick surface of hot-pressed paper. Paint has a tendency to lift from the surface of hot-pressed paper too, but not as easily as from canvas.
As you can see hot-pressed paper, does allow me to layer translucent paint effectively provided I make sure each layer is completely dry before I add the next one. All of the lighter colors are in now and I’m working on the darks. Things are just beginning to look three dimensional.
I’m going to prop this painting up on the dining room buffet so I can ponder it during dinner. There are some compositional issues I need to resolve before I go further. For on thing I don’t like the rock pile dead center in the painting. I need to move it to one side of the other. I may lighten the sand and grass up to echo the sea and sky too.
Yes, this is yet another painting of the Town Center Park water feature. This one is rather more ambitious than the previous two. I backed up to take in the feel of the whole stream bed. And I included not one but seven figures.
As you can see from the reference photo, I took some liberties with the geometry of stream bed. I narrowed the center wall of concrete and removed a trash can among other less major changes. I also slide the boys around a little so that they wouldn’t be directly above each other. Finally I eliminated the blond boy half hidden on the left hand side.
Once I was satisfied with the sketch I masked the boys and concentrated on the water feature itself. Masking an object against water or sky makes it easier to get the water to flow evenly to the edge of the foreground object.
Masking the boys also served as a final composition check as it made them stand out as the centers of interest. People always attract the eye and I expected the boys to so doubly because their skin provides the only warm tones in an otherwise cool picture and because their clothing and toys are the brightest colors in the painting. I liked the way the placement of the boys echoes the “S” curve of the concrete wall. Now that the painting is finished, I still like it.
But I’m probably still not done with this water feature. I like this subject and I’m learning the value of working in a series.
Pigment notes: The background is all burn sienna, phthalo blue and cobalt blue. To do the boys I added yellow ocher, cadmium yellow, and quinacridone deep red rose.
Or purchase a print at Fine Art America.com.
Yes color matters. I changed the palette to brighter clearer colors, but grayed them down with their compliments. This made the scene more restful. The active climbing takes second place to the static view. I like the effect, but it feels much less like Oregon winter to me.
I used red rose deep (quinacridone), dioxazine purple, cobalt blue, Prussian blue, and hansa yellow light.
I under-painted the rocks with cobalt blue to establish the basic shapes before adding much color. Then I dropped in dioxazine purple and Purssian blue. This resulted in an unreal landscape of glowing blue rocks. After stewing a while I mixed up a grey brown with the dioxazine and the hansa and a muddy orange with the hansa and quinacridone. I washed these over the rocks to tone them down a few notches.
The sky is cobalt blue with a tad of orange mixed from the quinacridone and hansa dropped in wet on wet. The sand is dioxazine purple grayed with the same orange. I used the same mixture for the headland in the background.
“A solitary rock is always attractive. All right-minded people feel an overwhelming desire to scale and sit upon it.” Dorothy Sayers, Have His Carcase.
Sayers was right. And my children are certainly right-minded. Given a rock they will climb. And the volcanic rocks found on our beaches are just meant for climbing. They’re tall and the have plenty of hand and footholds. And what a view there is when you reach the top.
This is once again a three pigment painting: burnt sienna, yellow ocher, and French ultramarine. The earth colors are perfect for our cold gray coast. I used granulation medium for the rocks. Given that extra bit of texture in the paint, they practically painted themselves. I did the sky wet into wet and the sand in layered washes.
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This is an early morning in February on Agate Beach, Oregon. The light isn’t sunrise but it’s reflection in the Western sky.
The painting is all broad washes and wet into wet. I began by masking the white water. Then I painted in the reflection of the sunrise with yellow ochre into which I dropped rose madder quinacridone. While that dried I washed the sand and rocks with raw sienna, followed by burnt sienna, followed by raw umber, followed by cobalt blue. I finished the sky wet into wet with mixes of Prussian blue, cobalt blue and burnt sienna. The ocean is cobalt blue and burnt sienna. The rocks are burnt sienna followed by burnt umber followed by cobalt blue.
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I took the working photos for this one on a cold wet winter day on Seal Rock Beach just south of Newport, Oregon. At low tide it’s a fantastic place for poking in tide pools. At high tide it’s a wave watcher’s heaven.
This is the fourth watercolor I’ve done on canvas. Watercolor is a whole different animal on canvas. It even sounds different, like painting on a drum.
Canvas is just a hair smoother than cold-pressed paper, but the texture is very different. Cotton has a grain whereas paper does not. Greater detail is possible on cotton than on cold-pressed paper. But that’s just the beginning.
Canvas absorbs more water, so it takes much longer to dry; and drying is crucial because unless a wash is bone dry it will lift from canvas in a heart beat. In fact it’s extremely easy to lift watercolor from canvas. All but the most staining pigments will wipe back to white with one swipe of the sponge. It’s great for correcting mistakes but lifting just a little color for highlight is next to impossible. Mask will also lift paint back to white making it easy to add white details.
On the other hand, canvas accepts much thicker darker paint without getting muddy and dead looking. I’m coming to the conclusion that this last is the primary advantage of canvas for me. And that is why I painted this particular painting on canvas. I wanted to make the dark rocks just as dark and cold as they really were without worrying about dead chalky looking paint.
Since it is framed without glass the last step in a watercolor on canvas is to spray it with a clear protective finish. I use a matte finish. I don’t want shine.
This is essentially a two color painting: French ultramarine and burnt Sienna. There is a hair of raw sienna here and there but not much.
Gallery wrapped (painting continues around the edges of the stretcher bars) on cotton canvas so no frame is necessary. Shipped flat.
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I’ve read that it’s advisable to place the horizon low when painting the sea to avoid making the waves look like a wall at the top of the painting. It’s a rule I violate frequently.
When I walk along the beach I am drawn to the leading edge of the ocean. Looking out from the edge of the waves the sea does feel like a wall above me. And the breakers rise many feet above sea level. In winter they they tower over the beach.
Standing in front of all that raw power I am awed that something so elemental is also so beautiful. My eyes follow the waves. I rarely scan the horizon.
I want to catch that feeling of being small and looking up into the waves, so when I place people right on the edge of the beach I often place the horizon high, or as in this case eliminate it altogether.
Pigment Notes: The water is phthalo blue, cobalt blue, French ultramarine, all dulled by burnt sienna and raw sienna. The beach is multiple washes, some salted, of burn sienna, raw sienna, and burnt umber mixed with a a hair of cobalt blue. Winsor red and cadmium yellow for the boy’s skin. Quinacridone gold, raw sienna and burnt umber for his hair. Winsor red and raw sienna for the shirt. French ultramarine and cobalt blue for his pants.