Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting with tags , , on July 22, 2013 by sebland

When you live in South Texas, in the summertime that cool Pacific air sounds really good. So, I crank up the a/c, turn on the ceiling fan and go back to work on this painting. With Raw Sienna and Burnt Sienna, I rough in the beach in the foreground.

BUILDING THE SAND That was too easy. Next, I mix Alizaron Crimson, Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna and rough in the rocks. It helps to mix a little of that lavender paint I used in the background to soften a little.


Blending all the colors I’ve used previously, I paint the horizon lines and with a lot of water in my brush, begin to paint over the reflections I roughed in with the rocks.

ADDING TEXTURE TO THE ROCKSI like to go back and forth between the rocks and the water, adding texture to the rocks with a bit of blue mixed with burnt sienna, then a bit of the background mix to soften the reflections in the water. Noticing the horizon slants downhill, I take time to measure again and mark the horizon with a pencil line to straighten it.

WARMING IT UPI think it’s time to add some life to the sky. Mixing Cadmium Red Medium, Alizaron Crimson and Titanium White, I paint the center and left side to warm the painting a bit. I mix Cobalt blue and white and brighten the sky on the right, to add interest.


This is a little more interesting. I played with the sand a little by adding Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna and white, added a few shadows to the rocks and began to wonder how will I get that glow on the wet sand that was my inspiration in the beginning. I think I see a little fog rising, but that may be my brain trying to visualize where I want to go with this. Refreshed with my little trip down memory lane, I think it’s time for a refreshing beverage. Tomorrow will be soon enough to wrestle with the next challenge. Enjoy!




Posted in Painting on July 17, 2013 by sebland

Oregon Memory
Sometimes a memory begs to be painted. As we approached the Oregon coast last year, we came around a curve to see the sun setting over the little town of Netarts. As luck would have it, the camera was locked in the trunk and we were racing darkness. A pale lavender fog was rolling in, and the scene haunted me ever since. I thought I had forgotten the beauty of that moment, but almost a year later, the memory is still there. Playing with my watercolors recently, I made a quick sketch from memory and loved the reflections in the water. Today, ten months later, it’s time to paint this scene.

Follow along with me as we try, step by step, to recreate that special moment.

STEP ONE: I have a canvas, 24 x 30, underpainted with a bright blue paint. I painted gesso rather loosely over the canvas to create a neutral background.

STEP TWO: With Cobalt Blue added to the gesso mixture, I began defining the sky. I selected a small patch in the lower right corner to bring the sky mixture in for reflection.


STEP THREE: Adding Alizaron Crimson, I began painting a lavender sky and water, reserving the lower edge for the sandy beach.


STEP FOUR: Using a soft paper towel, I scrubbed portions of the wet paint off the sky, creating the impression of clouds.

That was fun, but enough for today. We’ll see what tomorrow will bring!

DAY SIX – At the End of the Day

Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 25, 2013 by sebland


My students help put things into perspective, sometimes, and that happened this week. When we were critiquing this piece, I asked my student if she felt the painting was finished. Her reply was: “Where were the birds?” I realized that to give life to this moment, I did need some little fellows walking on the beach with me. Adding the birds and their shadows took only a few minutes. I washed over the gentle waves once again with warm and cool colors already used, and realized this painting is exactly what I wanted: a memory of a soft and gentle evening, alone on the beach and admiring the amazing colors the Master Painter had provided, just for me. That’s how I feel about every sunrise and sunset – Someone created all this beauty as a gift to us. I think I’m through with this one.


I’m looking forward to next week’s painting: Depoe Bay and the Roar of the Surf.


Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , on January 22, 2013 by sebland

gentle glow day five 1 low res

Life has a way of interfering in our plans. Painting for just a few minutes a day can still yield lots of results. I advise anyone who wants to make art – don’t be discouraged when your calendar fills up! You can use a half hour, an hour, even a few minutes a day, to create a piece of art. After an incredibly busy week, I took two hours and worked on this piece. I’m really beginning to be happy with it.

gentle glow day five 3 low res

The sand looked cold to me, so to warm it up, I mixed all the colors previously used: cadmium yellow, cadmium red, ultramarine blue and burnt sienna, with lots of titanium white to make a warmer sand tone. I also painted over the large rock and dragged some burnt umber mixed with blue down through the dry water to make a reflection.
gentle glow day five  2 low res
Wanting to make the foreground still warmer, I painted over the sand with alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue and some white. I used all my former colors and painted over the water, trying to make gentle waves and suggest the warmth of the sun on the right side of the painting.

gentle glow day five 4 low res

I felt the reflection was much too obvious, so painted over most of it with a cool blue and white mixture. I added some suggested reflections on the smaller rocks, made shadows under the driftwood and small rock in the foreground, and brought still more pink in the water on the right. It’s very hard to know when to stop, but I think this painting is almost finished. What do you think? Would you like to see the reflections more clearly, or do you like the sublety of this approach? Comments are always welcome!


Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 15, 2013 by sebland

DAY FOUR 1 low res
It’s really fun when I begin to see the painting resembling what I had in mind. Mixing the blue, yellow, red and burnt sienna, I create a sandy mix that I paint into the foreground.

Now I want to try to bring the tidepool in and show the reflection of the setting sun – something I haven’t tried before. Studying my reference photo, I realize I need to mix a light peach/brown color, so using cadmium red light, cadmium yellow medium, titanium white and lots of gel gloss medium, I paint the area where the waterline washes gently over the sand in the foreground.


DAY FOUR 2 low res

I like that. I use the same light color mixture on the right side of the water, showing the sunlight reflecting on that side.


DAY FOUR 4 3 low res

Mixing ultramarine blue, white and a little burnt sienna, I paint some cooler colors under the rock on the right side and working down, glaze more of the cool colors to blend with the warmer ones.


DAY FOUR 5 low resNow for the fun. Loading a 1″ watercolor brush with white, gloss medium and a little yellow, I drag the side of my brush across, creating some gentle wave action. I think the painting is beginning to take shape. Using the same white with a little blue and gloss medium I drag some cooler waves across from the left. This painting is easy and fun to do. Next time, we’ll work on the rocks. They look a little like sharks at the moment, but we’ll fix that. I think I’m going to like this picture!

DAY FOUR6 low res


DAY THREE: Going Over the Edge

Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , on January 15, 2013 by sebland

Warming up the sky

DAY THREE: I like to prepare my students for that inevitable day when you truly do not like your work. Now that I’ve passed over that plateau, the painting is beginning to help me along. It is impossible to describe the sensation that your work is speaking to you. People think you’ve gone over the edge, but it is true! There is a point when you know this is going to be something you love, and there are little voices in your head saying: “Warm this up,” or “Take that out.” It really is amazing and something I’ve heard from other artists. Soooooooooo, if I’m going crazy, I won’t get there alone!

Today, I felt the painting really needed to be warmed up, so I started adding more yellow, mixed with white, to brighten the sky.


Not bad, now let’s put some light in the water! Using the same color mix: yellow and white, with a little gel medium for shine, I began adding light strokes on the right side of the water.

DAY THREE 3 low res

The left side, under the rocks, should be darker for contrast, and I want more reflection in the water, so I mix ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, some white, and lightly add this mixture to make more reflection in the water on the left.


The colors really are beginning to captivate me. I want to begin to put more movement in the water, so I brush, over and over, streaks of yellow and white, then blue, yellow, red and white to make the waves slowly begin to appear.

I know I am far from finished, but I prop the painting up near my bed so I can study it and plan the next session. Hope you’re still enjoying watching paint dry!

DAY TWO – It’s Not All Bad

Posted in Painting on January 10, 2013 by sebland

Day Two 003 low res
DAY TWO: I thought about the composition a lot last night, and think the rock on the right is just too much. I am going to paint over it. That’s what I love about acrylics!
Day Two 006 low res

(Half of yesterday’s blog was lost somewhere in the black hole. Hopefully I can finish and save the rest of the work this time.)

Maybe I’ll leave the rock on the right hidden in the fog and accent the one on the left. Time to add some color to the water – using the same blue mixture, I add a little cad yellow medium to make it more interesting. I like the color mix.

Day Two 009 low res

I’ve lightened the sky and put more color in the clouds – I think this is working.

Now I feel brave enough to work on the rocks. I add several smaller rocks, using burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, nickel azo gold and a little alizarin crimson.

Day Two 014 low res

I think I’ve got a good start – the colors are pleasing, the reflections are beginning to work, and it’s wine time. Enough for this day!



Posted in art, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , on January 10, 2013 by sebland


I try to tell my students not to be intimidated by a blank canvas. One of them, apparently not believing me, described the new, larger canvas she purchased in this way: “Help, Help I need guidance. This canvas has arms and legs and large teeth in my dreams.”
Then, I walked into my studio and was faced with this. Suddenly, I felt what my student felt – intimidated!

The cure for this malady is to leap in, so I mixed gesso with cadmium red light and cadmium yellow medium, and prepared to cover 1,728 square inches.

In less time than you would think, I was halfway through the underpainting.

Now I’m rocking and rolling and ready to rough in the horizon line. Using ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson and white, I mix a cool blue lavender, and paint the horizon line. Then I begin to rough in the clouds and add some color where the sea will be.

This is the point where I begin to love my painting.

I try to emphasize, when painting water, especially a lake or ocean, the line must be straight. If your horizon line goes up or down, the water will run off, right?

I notice in my reference photo, that the sky is much lighter near the horizon, so I brighten the sky and begin to add the sunlight colors low in the water, where I’ll put a sea glow later.


Ah, now I am really beginning to like my work!

But then……….I roughed in some rocks, as I remembered how massive they looked on the coast.

WITH ROCKS low res8

I am not happy with this composition. In fact, I really hate it! Time to go pour a glass of wine and decide what to do next. Maybe tomorrow will be better…


Posted in art, Painting, Uncategorized on January 8, 2013 by sebland


Quite some time ago, I vowed to paint (and blog) a painting a day. That lasted for a short time, but life has a way of interfering with what we’d really like to do. Last February, a routine mammogram changed my plans. Like one woman in eight, I found I had breast cancer. As cancers go, it was pretty small, but two surgeries, ten days of radiation and other minor indignities (did you know they actually paint your breast blue and write ‘yes’ on it?), left me with little energy to paint, or to post my blogs.

However, in September, 2012, my husband and I flew to Oregon and spent a week on the beautiful Pacific coast, enjoying the fog and the mist and the cool air. On our last day there, the sun finally came out and gave us a beautiful evening to remember.

So, with a new year and a blank canvas, I plan to get back in the studio and try to create something magical: a memory I can share of one of America’s most beautiful places. I hope you will enjoy the progress of this painting, and that you will follow along as I try, step by step, to take you with me on this journey!

ON THE ROCKS – Going To My Happy Place

Posted in Uncategorized on August 8, 2011 by sebland

It’s hotter than Holy Hell in South Texas today. And yesterday, and tomorrow. The only cure I have is to retreat to my happy place – somewhere on a beach where the waves are breaking on the rocks and the wind blows salt spray in my face. Come along with me and let’s forget this hot, dry sauna and relax on the beach a while.

I painted this on sheet of 11″ x 15″ Strathmore cold press, 140-lb watercolor paper. I used a #8 Filbert Brush, with a medium sized fan brush for the foam.

First, I sketched out the composition, using a soft pencil.

Next, I painted the sky with a mixture of Ultramarine Blue, Dioxazine Purple and Titanium White. While the paint is wet, using a clean damp brush, I formed cloud shapes, a horizon line and some beginning wave formations.

Mixing a little of this purple mixture with Burnt Sienna, I began to paint the rocks, trying to decide where will the lift come from. I think the left side will be where I place the light on these rocks, so I work more dark into the right side of my painting.;

Adding a little white to the mixture, I begin painting the left side of my rocks, and then scrape over them with the flat end of my paint tube to give them texture. Anything firm and flat will do the job.

Using white and burnt sienna, I begin painting in some sand in the foreground. I add a little of the lavender/sienna mixture to suggest another large rock in the right foreground.

With white and gloss medium, I swirl my brush to create a few more definite clouds, then I mix Hunter Green, white and blue to begin planning the wave action. Notice the “lazy x’s” giving a sense of movement in the background water, behind the foaming wave I am beginning to paint in the midground.

Notice I pulled a little of the blue mixture into the tide pool in the foreground of my painting. Also, see how the darker blue/green up against the white waves gives a feeling of depth. Placing the darkest values against the lightest gives more texture and depth to any surface. Let this dry thoroughly.

Working again on the rocks, I add raw sienna, some of the light purple mix and white, then scrape again to give my rocks more texture.

I added some small rocks in the shallow water, and softened the water in the background by adding white waves over the “lazy x’s”. I also realized the rocks ended too abruptly, so painting in a more gradual incline in the large rocks on the right.

With my white mixed with gloss medium, I used a fan brush to drag the foam over the breaking wave. I also suggested froth in the foreground and ripples in the tide pool, gently pulling the fan brush forward across the little rocks in the foreground. Mixing burnt sienna, green and purple, I deepened the shadows between the rocks, and also darkened the water directly in front of and under the large wave. Adding a little deep green/purple mix makes my wave actions more real, too.

Adding Alizaron Crimson, Blue, Purple and Hunters Green warms up my painting and make a believable image. I think I’ll put my bare feet in the water and cool down. Enjoy!


Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 24, 2013 by sebland


I’ve been known to tell my students that they will one day hate almost every painting they are working on. For me, this may be that day. First, my constant companion remarked that I must be emulating Georgia O’Keefe, who painted her blue mountain over and over. He said I seem to paint the same rocks over and over. He may be right, but I don’t think I needed to hear that. At least that is my excuse for a rather frustrating session. To begin, I decided the rocks were too solid and needed more texture. Mixing Burnt Sienna, Thalo Blue and Alizaron Crimson, I painted over my rocks and then scraped across them with a palette knife. I also painted their reflections and smoothed over with a bit of lavender mix.


Deciding the sky needed some more warmth, I mixed Cadmium Red Medium with a bit of Gesso and painted the sky and the water with some pink streaks. I also added a little more blue into the sky on the right.


Making a pale ivory mix with gesso and bit of Cadmium Yellow Medium, I lightened the sky and the water in the center, and at the lower right edge.


Mixing a little yellow into my pink mixture, I added more warmth to the sky and the water.


I am gradually bringing more of the water over to the left edge. I may lose the beach altogether! Maybe the tide is coming in.


With a very wet brush, some pale lavender mix and gel medium, I painted over the sand, trying to bring movement into the foreground. I also rubbed this blend over the rocks, hoping to capture the fog as it began to rise.


Adding creamy white with a large watercolor brush, I begin to build some wave action across the bottom of the rocks. I am not happy with the colors of the rocks, so struggle a bit with that. I also darken the sky with a mix of light purple made with Cadmium Red Medium and Cobalt Blue. I also add a little blue to the lower right corner.


With Burnt Sienna and Raw Sienna, I play with the sand a little more, paint the rocks, rub the paint off the rocks, mutter a few imprecations and walk away. This painting can wait for another day. I hear it’s 5:00 somewhere!


Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting with tags on July 22, 2013 by sebland


DAY SIX – At the End of the Day

Posted in Painting with tags , , , , on January 25, 2013 by sebland

DAY SIX – At the End of the Day.


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