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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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.