If you think that the SoCal coast can be foggy, Oregon is by far more foggy at times! It’s an incredibly beautiful coastline with wide, nearly empty beaches. Out to sea are the sea stacks, some large, some small. In clear weather they are stunning, in the fog, spooky and eerie.
Today, a limited palette and paying particular attention to laying down water and thin colors. Washes are the dominant technique used here. My little picky brush strokes had to give way to broad ones for the beach and damp sand. It actually worked fairly well. Water, water, everywhere!
More work this morning with thin washes and working wet-in-wet. Not as pleasing as yesterday’s work, but a good experience nonetheless. A limited palette, some work with glazes, and use of dry brush. Painted on Fluid paper, which was a new experience – rather different in handling than Arches, but similar to the Fabriano I used yesterday. DOF isn’t there – I think the water further in the distance should be lighter . . . something to think about.
California is not all joyful sunshine and playing on the beaches. Fog is a large part of the coastal environment. It is known as “May grey” and “June gloom.” This morning I woke up to it . . . . inspiration for a foggy lake in the frozen (or not so frozen) north.
I’m still focused on water. Today I wanted fog and water and hoped to use very wet paint thinned to mostly water. I also wanted to work with wet-in-wet in the attempt to catch the softening of edges, increasingly more blurred and colorless, to denote distance. A dull, muted foreground with intense color to add to depth of field. I think it all worked out pretty good.
Fabirano 25% cotton paper, 9×12, neutral tint, sap green, Hooker’s green, phthalo green, Payne’s grey, quinacridone gold, yellow ochre, ultramarine blue, burnt sienna.
Summer is not yet officially here, but the warmth, sun, birds, and wind all make me long for a quiet spot to sit and relax. No nothing except the sounds of the natural world. Here, all the things I love.
I tried to simplify things more in this painting by using washes and bleeding colors into them. The foreground was tricky as there was a lot of texture from the brush on the lower left. The same brush is on the opposite shore, but, as you can see, with a lot less detail. Also, I decided to try to use a bit of white gouache mixed with watercolor to represent the white brush – baby sycamores? – as well as the branches of the sycamore trees. Sadly, I didn’t really think about the leaves of the sycamores until after I had painted in the mountain in the distance, so I tried to retrieve a bit of lighter leaves in the foreground. Not super successful, but am pleased with the effort of simplifying.
Malibu State Park is a vast area that spreads out across bits of Ventura and Los Angeles Counties. You can feel like you are lost in the wild west. What is so enchanting about it is the land itself – hilly, flat, study with oak trees, a creek or two. It’s a great place to hike, to explore, to do photography, and to paint. In spring it is stunning, and after a rainy season you can walk through fields of butterflies. In fall, the sycamores change color, the grass is brown, but the hills can remain green. Definitely a land of contrasts.
I decided to use a study by the watercolorist Vernon Nye. He caught the back country of California perfectly – the hills and trees in particular. It was a fun study and I liked it because it pointed out to me how deceptively simple the hills can seem, but they really are not. The road, too, was another eye-catcher. I have driven along a number of back-road highways throughout the state, and you feel like you are the only person in the world. The perspective was a great challenge, too. Altogether, a good study of something in my own back yard, and I can take what I learned into future paintings.
Yesterday was a watercolor day! I warmed up with a copy of Wesson’s painting, and then moved on to more water. I am not intimidated by water in the form of lakes or streams, but do need to learn how to do oceans and waves and white caps. I am trying to get a grip on reflections and how water and reflections interact. I think reflections appear longer when the sun is behind you rather than in front of you, like shadows.
Here, a mountain and a lake, with some very deep shadows. The distant mountain is quite bland to my eyes and would like to liven it up with deeper greens and richer browns. I didn’t. I tried to keep it more simple than the actual photo. I did to a point.
I think most painters will always find faults as they know, as they paint, what challenged them while they painted and what their vision was, versus what they put down. My life.
Edward Wesson was a master English watercolorist. He is renown for the simplicity of his work – clear color masses, defined work. It is his economy of color and shape that are attractive to many painters as he says a lot with very little.
I, on the other hand, am prone to overdo and use rather bright colors. My perspective is often wonky. To counter this, I look for painters, such as Wesson or Seago or Hannema or Kautzky whose work I admire for its elegant use of colors or lines or both. Copying another artist is good intellectually, as it requires thinking about what the artist did, and how. Great practice! Today, I chose Wesson. Below is my interpretation.
My mountain in the distance is more detailed than Wesson’s. I chose to make the trees on the shore in the midground lighter than in his painting as I think he meant to do it, but had laid in the dark of the hill on the left already. My beach comes nowhere as beautiful as his – too much detail.
My husband remarked that this is definitely something he would define as NOT “my” style. I agree. I was looking to create something a bit spare, and to a degree I did, but I had to blot the sky (too dark) and re-wet the mountain. I like the middle ground green hills, and the reflections on the water. My beach sucks! All in an afternoon’s work.
Water and sky are the major themes these days. I really like them anyway, but have to work on reflections in particular. For instance, along the banks, the reflection of reeds is very important, as in the distant water / tree line. I try to be simple in my approach and perhaps a bit less dramatic or intense in my colors, but that seems to be really hard for me to achieve! I had a lot of fun with this painting, though, and am rather pleased with its outcome despite the fact it is not quite what I envisioned. But, it does catch that peculiar storm light, I think.