As we packed up and headed home, I was so glad we took this opportunity to see a part of America we hadn’t seen. Now I have 689 images to inspire me. I hope I can paint a few of them and do justice by them. So long, Downeast Maine!
As we packed up and headed home, I was so glad we took this opportunity to see a part of America we hadn’t seen. Now I have 689 images to inspire me. I hope I can paint a few of them and do justice by them. So long, Downeast Maine!
You’d think as time goes by, the memories would begin to fade, but coming home just seems to help me look back with fondness to the beautiful places we saw. Bar Harbor is about 90 miles south of Lubec, and we drove down to spend our last four days exploring Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island.
Bar Harbor is very busy. In fact, other than eating there and buying a few groceries, I chose to avoid it as much as possible. One exception was an excellent brunch at Two Cats Restaurant. With a beautiful garden as the front lawn, they served one of the most generous and delicious breakfasts I found. In fact, it was at least twenty four hours before either of us could think of food. Mostly organic food, the presentation was beautiful, and it’s easy to see why the place was packed every time we drove by. Jordan’s, a well established restaurant up the street, is famous for its blueberry pancakes and muffins. We managed to weave our way through the masses (literally) of bicycles, cars, delivery trucks and zany pedestrians several times, just to sample the food there. Our waitress, a young woman from Kiev, held us spellbound with her description of life year round on the coast of Maine. But I suppose coming from the Ukraine, a Maine winter was a breeze to her. For a flat-lander from Oklahoma now living in South Texas, thoughts of cross country skiing and wearing snowshoes to go out for a walk really sparked my imagination!
Even though we much preferred the natural beauty of Acadia National Park, we did enjoy the harbor and the old inns and hotels clustered around the bay.
This sailboat offered a view that I enjoyed, and I would have liked to take a short cruise, maybe all the way down to Boston, if they’d offered it. A half hour ride around the bay just wasn’t that appealing.
Most days, we preferred driving all over the island, pulling out at every vantage point and taking photos of the cliffs, the rocks, and the beautiful blue water. One of my favorite spots was Thunder Hole.
During high tides the water rushes into this spot, and it roars and sounds like thunder. It merely gurgled when we were there, but I still found it beautiful. I also discovered I didn’t like tourists very much, even though I was one – there was this one man who popped up in every photo. I sort of wanted to throw a rock at him, but restrained myself. They frown on such things in our national parks.
Probably my favorite time of all was sitting on the rocks near Otter Cove, pulling out my little watercolor kit and just trying to capture the shadows on Otter Cliffs. I probably will never forget that hour sitting in the sun, hearing the roar of the surf and feeling at perfect peace.
We wanted to see the lighthouse at Bass Harbor and spent a pleasant morning driving up and across the island. Unfortunately, we saw a lot of fog!
Next, the view from Cadillac Mountain and a Happy Hour Sunset Cruise. Lots of inspirations for paintings, for sure!
As all good things must come to an end, so our visit to New Brunswick and Campobello Island had to end. I think one of the most important things to take away from a cherished vacation is the sense of awe – the wonder that our land is so beautiful and so amazing! I encourage my students to seriously plan their dreams – to follow through on those things you’ve always wanted to do! As we grow older, God willing, we will have wonderful memories of parks we have visited, far away places we finally got to see, and those memories comfort us. Dream it and then scheme it, y’all! You’ll never regret it. So, as we drive across the Roosevelt Bridge and back into the United States, here are a few of my cherished memories.
The lovely old churches with a cemetery up the hill, being mowed by a red headed teenager.
The rocky shoreline and our time spent trying to capture it on canvas:
The last day of our workshop dawned bright and clear. Michael took us to the overlook at Friar’s Head. It really felt like the top of the world. We could see across the bay to Lubec and Eastport, and island in between. He could not have chosen a better spot! Pointing out the lovely cloud formations, he chose as a demo to paint a pastel focusing on the fast moving clouds. He began sketching in the main shapes and worked up a value study. I have learned that this truly is the most valuable part of plein air painting – no pun intended.
Liking the curve of the bay and the reflections on the water, I chose what should have been an easy subject, and began to lay in the masses. Michael said that it takes two people to make a painting. One is the painter and another is the friend with a gun to shoot that artist before they mess up the painting. I needed that second person on this day. I had a beautiful start and I kept on adding detail after detail until I totally messed it up.
In such a beautiful spot, it’s easy to remember, it’s the journey!
On the third day of our workshop, a storm moved across the Northeast. Maryland, D.C., Long Island, Boston and Portland all had severe flooding. Our day was cool, wet and windy. The view from our cabin did not look promising.
The morning critique at Friar’s Bay Studio went well. Michael had several suggestions for my “Old Sparky” painting, which I have yet to try, then we donned ponchos and headed out to Herring Cove. He led us to a beautiful hillside with huge slabs of rocks leaning on the hillside. It was as though a mighty sea god had just lifted them out and rested them on the shore. Despite a windy rain blowing in on us, Michael set up his easel under the shelter and began his demo.
This was probably the one new technique I will remember always. As he began painting in the main shapes, I was surprised as he blocked in huge triangles where the pine trees stood on the hill. They looked so solid, I questioned him about it. He said that he would come by with the sky color and paint negatives spaces as he saw them.
The others gritted their teeth, found shelter as they could and began working. My mama didn’t raise no fool. I went home. Yup, skipped class, thanked Michael for the amazing demo and went to my cabin. John had the heat on! In August! I loved it.
This was a perfect day to visit FDR’s summer “cottage,” and also to enjoy lunch at the Fireside Inn. A side Note; August 9th, 2014, was the official celebration day for the 50th anniversary of the Roosevelt-Campobello International Park.To celebrate the Park in his own way, Michael recently painted fifty small paintings of scenes either within or from the Park. These small paintings were on the walls of the Fireside Inn, where we had a hot lunch. Each was a lovely little jewel, a moment captured forever. That’s what art does!
The rain was coming down pretty heavily by now, so I took refuge in FDR’s beautiful summer home. As a small child, I had seen FDR from my father’s shoulders when he was on the campaign trail. My father was so impressed with him and what he accomplished that I guess a little of this rubbed off. I hope I can feel the same about other presidents in my lifetime.
Here is a view of the beautiful flowers in the garden. I was delightfully surprised at the dahlias. I hadn’t seen them in many year and have fond memories of my Aunt Minnie’s dinner plate sized dahlias back in the 40’s in Oklahoma.
Walking into the parlor, it was neat to see the sailboat, FDR’s pipe and his hat, together with some children’s games from my childhood. It took me back to some wonderful times, and the entire house had the atmosphere of waiting for these folks to come back. By the way, Ken Burns has filmed a documentary on the Roosevelts, which will air on PBS September 14. I’ll enjoy revisiting some of those memories, I think. It’s neat to realize as one ages, one becomes a part of history. I’m beginning to feel like a dinosaur!
When we arrived at Cranberry Point on the second day of our workshop, the fog was rolling in. I really enjoyed standing and listening to “Old Sparkplug’s” horn every ten seconds. It was a lonely, mournful sound, and I could have listened to it all day long.
However, Michael, our teacher, had other ideas.
Today, Michael is using pastels, and I have to say his work and Sue’s, one of the other students, has whetted my interest. Pastels may be my next learning experience!
Meanwhile, Michael has painted an alcohol wash on his pastel. He goes to warn the others who are on the beach to watch out for the incoming tide. Compare these two photos: Note where Sue is standing on the beach, working on her painting, then look at the second photo. She would have been washed away! The tide rose that fast – two hours maximum!
Content that I had a good study, I signed off on my second workshop painting.
Back in the studio, we critiqued our work. Mine is a little pink – I’ll go back and mute the colors a little. Sue’s lovely pastel and Brian’s oils all are looking good!
Thank you, Michael, for inspiring us all!
Crossing over into Canada, the FDR bridge rose high over the Bay of Fundy. This amazing area has one of the highest tides in the world. Every twelve hours, the tide will rise 27 feet! Islands appear and disappear every day! Painting plein air becomes even more challenging, because in addition to fighting weather conditions, bugs and changing shadows, the rock formation you are trying to capture becomes an underwater blob!
The little town of Lubec, Maine, shown in the distance, is beautiful! Clean, quaint, and very friendly. We arrived mid afternoon and found our cabin on the coast just what we were looking for. Here is the view from our front porch.
On location at Raccoon Point, our teacher Michael Chesley Johnson with two of the four workshop participants. Michael keeps his classes small and is a wonderful teacher – his suggestions are to the point and he is very good at finding our strengths while trying to help us with any weaknesses. It was a beautiful clear, cool day, and after a short meeting at his studio, he took us on location and demonstrated some of the finer points of plein air painting.
First, he studies his subject and makes a small thumbnail value study.
After an hour or so, I’ve done all the damage I can do. Happily, all of us felt we had learned some of the techniques we needed. Tomorrow, we will meet in Michael’s studio for some critique and advice.
I could not have asked for a more picture perfect day to return to the Schoodic Peninsula – the air was cool and clean, and as I searched for the perfect spot, I was relieved to find a parking place near enough to move my stuff. Parking was at a premium on this day, because of the races being held at the Point.
Finding a nice shady spot, I decided to try my hand at watercolor. I have to say I don’t care for my color choices, but it was a good exercise. I want to rent that house on the island next year!
Moving on around the point, I found such a beautiful, peaceful cove, I just knew it was calling to me.
An added bonus was a shade tree. With my mosquito repellent safely applied, I was ready to set up and paint!
The clouds came and went, and I actually felt a few drops of rain, but I was in no hurry to leave. I was having way too much fun!
What did I learn today? That these small 9 x 12 oil studies and the watercolor sketches will be great reference material when I paint in my studio at home. I learned that people are friendly the world over. I visited with a lady from Virginia who had set up an art program in her home town, and a young man from Japan who brought his parents over to enjoy the beauty of Maine.
Tomorrow: Campobello Island and the beautiful city of Lubec, the eastern most city in America.
Schoodic Point, Winter Harbor, Me.
One of the joys of growing older is the realization that if you want to do something, you’d better do it now! Sometimes this means taking some risks, facing some challenges and knowing that today is the day you should follow through on those “somedays” you have dreamed about. A little bout with cancer makes you understand tomorrow is not promised!
I will confess, when I enrolled in a plein aire painting class with Michael Chesley Johnson, that my self confidence was a little lacking. And the thought of negotiating airports, baggage, driving on strange roads and being able to hold up my end of the painting assignment itself filled me with trepidation. At 76, you don’t get many chances to do these things, so I just decided to make some memories.
The people at Southwest Airlines could not have been more helpful. They brought wheelchairs for both my husband and me, handled our baggage, and saw that we got to our car rental with absolutely no problems. When both you and your husband are worriers, that’s a major blessing! Arriving in Portland in a driving rainstorm (you Texas folks don’t know what that looks like), we headed north for a 169 mile drive to Sullivan, Maine. We arrived at sunset, and the colors over Frenchman’s Bay were amazing. Of course my camera was in the trunk. The 200 year old house and its lovely bedroom suite was warm and inviting. There was even a light on in our window! The hostess, Lee Giardino, could not have been more welcoming. It felt like going home to my grandmother’s!
It really was hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact this house was already 32 years old when the Declaration of Independence was signed! And over 100 years old when Texas became a state! Lee had some interesting history of the house and made us feel completely at home, even opening her kitchen for us and inviting us to raid her pantry and refrigerator. The Keurig coffee pot was always available, and all our doubts began to disappear. This was going to be fun!
Thursday morning, we slept in and John discovered an amazing old library full of books both current and from the past. He spent the next five days hanging out with an 1884 edition of “Life on the Mississippi,” by Mark Twain, while I went all over the area just enjoying the sights and scouting out painting locations.
Sullivan is half way between Bar Harbor and Schoodic Peninsula, and Lee advised that Schoodic Point was the place to go see wave action.
Lee was right – jutting out into the Atlantic near the town of Winter Harbor, this was one of the loveliest places I have ever seen! Sitting on these rocks at 7:00 in the morning, while the shadows are long, is an artist’s dream. I did wish I had paid attention to the advice someone gave me about bug spray. The mosquitoes were so large and so numerous, they were debating whether to carry me out to sea or eat me on the rocks. Still, I managed to get a pretty good study and learned a bit about the properties of painting in oils plein aire. For one thing, you can begin to muddy your painting after a short time. I decided this was a good time to go find some bug spray. Good old Walmart came through for me, and I went back to my room tired but happy. Maybe I can feel comfortable in the workshop, after all!
I’m pretty pleased with this one. Tomorrow, I’ll try again. Thank you Lord for this beautiful day!
As the day progressed, so did the artwork. From the very first, it was obvious “Color” was the topic of the day.
At this point, no one knew where this day was headed. Very few pieces at the end had any resemblance to the beginning. This one, especially, morphed into something entirely different. I had in mind a black, beige and red painting of some sort. But….
I think I had already begun to feel this wasn’t working, so I painted over it, turning everything to gray.
Surprisingly, spirit figures began to appear:
And then, as the music mellowed, so did the mood of the painting. That does happen when one is finally in that place where intuitive painting begins.
I’m still not sure where this painting is going, but each time I look at it, I see something new. Is it finished? Maybe not. I haven’t signed it yet! I do feel it has a message, but the whole has not been revealed – to me, at least! I’m calling it CIRCLE OF LIFE. Who knows, it may reappear as something entirely different – that’s part of the joy of being a painter – you can hardly wait to see what you’re going to do next!
As the day ended, we had several colorful pieces of art – and we each vowed to do this again – it was indeed a joyful day!
Sherry Humphreys’ DESERT STORM
and finally, Sherry Humphreys’ FRUIT SALAD. Not a bad way to end the day!
Now and then, when we least expect it, the planets align and we find all kinds of good things going on! That happened to me this spring. A cousin in Oregon sent a website for a very talented artist that inspired me and several of my friends. My cousin’s daughter had taken an online class presented by Flora Bowley, http://braveintuitiveyou.com/, and her beautiful abstracts just blew us away! After talking it over for a while, we decided a deck party was definitely beckoning us. We chose a lovely day in April, covered my deck with dropclothes, took off our shoes, put some Harry Belafonte music on the CD, and went to work.
We could not possibly have chosen a more beautiful day. We bought a large quantity of paint, established ground rules: “YOU MUST HAVE FUN,” and began pouring, rubbing, brushing and applying the paints as our spirits moved us.
Surprisingly enough, no two paintings resembled one another – each had a beauty of its own. One painter was inspired by my deck cushions, another portrayed underwater creatures, a blue bird named “Squawk” emerged, and at the end of the day, we had some very nice pieces. Sherry Humphreys’ “ARABESQUE” so intrigued the judge at a local show that she won Best of Show! Later, I’ll post more of the work we did that day. It just goes to show that amazing things can happen when you Just Show Up!!!
PAINTING FOR THE FUN OF IT!
Part of the joy of teaching is the learning that comes along with it. For the past three years, I have been moving more and more into a teaching situation. I am now realizing that while I have less time at my own easel, I have grown to appreciate the joy in seeing others become caught up in this obsession called “art!” Deciding only yesterday on a name for my classes, workshops, retreats and arts encounters, I have decided that “S. E. BLAND’S JOY OF ART SCHOOL” might be a fine title! While weekly classes are wonderful for encouraging new students, I have found that one-day workshops are great ways to show rank beginners that they too can produce good results. In October, I offered a class for beginning artists, none of whom had worked with paints before.
My deck was inviting, we had a great breakfast with blueberry pancakes, cheesy eggs, fruit salad and drinks, so that everyone was relaxed when we began. I wrapped the art supplies in gift wrapping, to make each artist aware of the gift of time they were giving to themselves.
He had been painting for a total of three hours when he started this one, and I love the movement of the water.
John’s “Red Rock Country” just blew me away. To see four people, two young women under 16, and two men over 50, create such beauty on their first try, made me realize that making art really is a joyful process, for all concerned!
My next workshop, “DANCING (AND PAINTING) TO THE MUSIC” will be coming up soon. Look for it!
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.
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.
I 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.
I 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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I like that. I use the same light color mixture on the right side of the water, showing the sunlight reflecting on that side.
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.
Now 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 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.
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.
(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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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…
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!
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.
BAD NEWS, GOOD NEWS
Three weeks ago, when I fell off a three foot stepladder, I landed hard on my right wrist – broke two bones, the radius and the ulna. Fortunately it was a clean break, and surgery was not needed. I count myself lucky – it could have been a hip, or my spine!
I was facing six weeks without holding a paint brush. Not happening! So I decided to see if I could train my left hand to hold a paint brush. After all, they train elephants to paint with their trunks. What’s so difficult about using my other hand? Plenty, I found out. Just trying to open a tube of paint was a challenge, but with trusty old pliers, I soon figured it out.
I thought I’d start with watercolors – easier to clean up.
Not quite as bad, but not terribly impressive.
The next attempt was a study in reds, in Acrylic on canvas board. I’m pretty happy with the results this time.
BROKEN WING I – “WAITING” 10” X 8”
Liking the monochromatic palette, my next piece flowed more easily:
BROKEN WING II – “WAITING STILL” 12 X 9
Feeling the flow, I decided to move on to some blues and greens.
I may want to work on this a bit more – still a good start, I think. Maybe not.
Trying to regain a little more control with my brushes, I recalled memories of a sunset at Big Bend:
and in class Tuesday, a student asked for help with her clouds, so with my right arm in a sling, I came up with this one: