Two Watercolorists Who Inspire

I’ve long been a fan of Charles Reid and his wonderful, loose watercolor style. In particular, I enjoy his paintings of the Bahamas and other Caribbean scenes. The light, the sky, the land all work together to create something most of us dream about.

A Watercolor by Charles Reid

The above painting is by Charles Reid, but when you look at it, you can also see he is influenced by the watercolors by Winslow Homer a century earlier.

Florida by Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer painted not only the Bahamas in the Caribbean, but other tropical areas, such as Florida. Palm trees and ocean and sky and wind show us another world.

Palms by Winslow Homer

Several years ago I spent a week crewing in the British Virgin Islands, and the colors I saw were are so seductive. Around every corner, I thought of Winslow Homer. Charles Reid, while I knew of his work, I did not know he had painted the same areas as Homer, nor where I had been hanging out. It was a real delight to discover he painted the Bahamas and similar areas.

A study based on a watercolor by Charles Reid (see above).

Here, a quick study – about 15 minutes – of the watercolor above by Mr. Reid. It’s rough. The goal was to capture a purity of color and gesture to express movement, the shape of people on the beach, the colors of the sky.

Island, Island View

Sky, beach, water, clouds – the Caribbean has it all. The British Virgin Islands are just a few of the many islands in the area, many of which have tourist-driven economies. Despite this, the islands have their flavors, based on who originally colonized them – English, French, Dutch and American.

I don’t know if I could live on a small island because I am so spoiled by the ease with which I can buy a book (hard to do on an island, especially before e-books!) and a wide variety of food. What you cannot buy, though, is the atmosphere and the beauty. That you take home with photographs, paintings, and memories.

Caribbean Beach

The Caribbean is a magical area – palms, sunny, sandy, windy, brilliant light, azure waters – and a place of terror, such as the fury of hurricanes, and in the olden days, pirates!  Here is California we also have such brilliance, but our hells are fires and earthquakes.  It seems there is always a counterpoint for something.

Paradise Lost

Another building!  This time the simple composition helped – not a lot of corners.

For the palm tree, I used a dagger brush.  I also used it for the building and the grass.  I’ve never used one before, but thought it would be perfect for the fronds.  A lot of fun can be had with this brush – glad I added it to my brush collection.

Caribbean Cool

I love the colors of houses seen throughout the Caribbean.  Brilliant sunshine sets them off beautifully.  The same with white – it becomes so bright it can be as blinding as snow in the sunshine.  Where I live, if anyone paints their house anything other than beige or some other neutral color, they sort of get a weird look, like “what’s wrong with them,” so the colors you see in the Caribbean is eye candy.

Of late, I have painting snow and water.  And skies.  Now, I am looking to trying to include buildings in my paintings.  I want to improve my perspective (the chimney here is cock-eyed) and to make them focal points.  At some point I may even brave putting people into my paintings.

Here, the study was not just architecture, but white and how to express it as something other than just white.  Fabriano Artistico, cobalt and ultramarine blue, sap and Hooker’s green, yellow ochre, and red oxide (I think).