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.
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.
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.