Along the Coast

I’ve been in a foggy mood lately – could it be matching my aggravation with the coronavirus and all the social restrictions it is placing on us? I have been rather out of it for the past several days, so today I decided that, no matter what I felt I had to do, a painting with a cheerful theme would be the day’s beginning! Nothing like a beautiful day at the seaside with a good wind and a brilliant sun to cast away those doldrums.

The Slough II (Watecolor)

The last version of “The Slough, II” – at least for now!  This is in watercolor, and it was actually fairly easy to render as I have now painted the same image 3 times, 6 if you consider the first series.  Perspective is okay, but rendering of distance along the beach across the water is a bit problematic.  Rather than using a pencil to create the drawing, I used a dagger brush and Quinacridone Gold to outline the shapes.  I left the cliffs totally white and then added crevasses and such with varying colors.

Doing a whole series, in different media, of the same subject has been so much fun!  I expect I will continue to do so.  Daily painting – pastels, gouache, and watercolor – is becoming the central focus of most of my days, unless I am sewing masks or just need a change of pace.  Too much of one thing doesn’t sit well with me – that’s why I use so many different media!  I get bored easily and the monkey mind screams out . . .

The Slough II (Pastels)

A second rendition of “The Slough, II”, this time in pastels on Mi Teintes 9×12 paper.  Perspective is fixed, and I like this version so much better!

The original “The Slough, II” was done in gouache a few days ago – you can see it in my earlier post.  That version was totally wackadoodle in the world of real perspective – the only part that worked out was the front curve of sand, whereas the midground and background didn’t work.  Fraggy (another blogger!) had some good insights about the issues.

In thinking about Fraggy’s comments as well as reviewing what I did, I really have no excuse.  I just did a very, very poor drawing on the paper, sort of sketching things in without checking their relationships.  So, today, I worked on the drawing a bit, and the result is much better.  I considered vanishing points and straight lines, et cetera, et cetera.

I really feel so at home with pastels.  My only complaint is that the end product is easily smeared, even with the use of “final” fixatives.  I need to research that a bit . . .

The Slough II (Gouache)

A different view of The Slough, gouache, and some perspective problems, both atmospheric and size.  Sigh.

Still, I will say parts of it I really like.  One thing I enjoy about gouache is the colors are so cheery if you don’t turn them into mud.  Mixing is such a challenge with this medium – you need a lot of white to make light colors unless they come like that out of the tube.

The Slough (Gouache)

This scan has a really greenish cast for some reason – or maybe I just used a lot of green without realizing it.  Anyway, given the fact that yesterday’s painting looked like it was sliding uphill into the ocean (art can do that, even if reality can’t), I worked on it again, this time using gouache.  Here, the sand works a lot better – at least it seems to be doing the right sandy thing!

Maybe some watercolor tomorrow of the same subject?

Hendry’s Beach

The California coastline varies from top to bottom.  Some areas have wide, flat sandy beaches, and others are at the base of rugged cliffs, sometimes accessible, sometimes not.  State law says the beaches are for everyone, and must be accessible.  People in Malibu and some areas south of San Francisco have rich people who won’t grant access, and lawsuits have been fought long and hard.  There is even an app for your phone that tells you where you can access beaches in Malibu, in spite of the fake “No Beach Access” signs put out by land owners on the coast.  Funny, but not funny.

Hendry’s Beach (often called “Henry’s Beach”) is a long-time favorite and a popular one in Santa Barbara.  At low tide, you can walk a long distance, but if you are not careful about the tides, you could get caught!  The ocean is sometimes out enough that a lagoon is formed, and then disappears when the tide comes in.

Rocky Coast & Post Production

I’ve taken photos for years and use different software to enhance the final results to express what I want.  With this painting, I was not quite sure about the distant cliffs and the depth of color in the ocean.  Too light?  Darken?  My instinct was that darkening both would make a better painting in the sense of contrast.

Overall, I like the above painting – it looks pretty good.  In the one below, I used a brush in Lightroom to darken the cliffs and the sea.

I like the second choice better.  I haven’t painted over the cliffs or ocean to make them darker, but if I were to publish things, I could do some “post” in a digital format.  If you look at the frame of the above image, you will see parts of it are darker, the result of using the LR brush.

I wonder how many other artists do post-processing of their paintings.  I have taken scans and turned them into black and white images to check contrast and value – so why not for making painting decisions as well?  It’s all a learning process.

Carpinteria Bluffs

Another “direct watercolor” from a photo I took sometime ago when up along the bluffs in Carpinteria, CA.  This one might be worth repeating just because there are some areas I really like about it, but the rocks to the left of the cliff are rather dismal.  The topmost rock was really a boat on the horizon!  I painted the boat first, and then it just got bigger and bigger, to the point I morphed it into a dreary rock.  Those rocks need work, as does the color gradation of the sand on the beach.  I like a lot of the colors, but overall the sparkle is missing from the photo.  If at first you don’t succeed . . . ya know.