I am not really sure what I am doing these days. I don’t really like what I am painting. Moving into abstraction to some degree, trying to loosen up, trying to be more suggestive than representational. Like anything new, or different, it can be very uncomfortable. A part of me wants to work with less intense colors, and for me, that seems like an impossibility! So, I keep trying. Let’s see where it all goes.
Another attempt at acrylic painting. This time I used a sheet from a Fredrix linen pad. I gessoed it and then used, initially, the Open medium with the paints, but I didn’t like the way it was working, and so switched to regular matte medium to dilute the paints. I tried to use the paints fairly straight out of the tube, blending with white and matte medium. The result was a fairly thick paint that behaved well.
The Carpinteria Bluffs are located in the southernmost section of Santa Barbara County, just above the border of Ventura County, where I currently live. Carpinteria was home for many years and always enjoy returning, especially in summer when the light shifts and everything has a glow of its own. Eucalyptus trees and other plant life make for a wonderful walk along the cliffs above the Pacific, and across the Santa Barbara Channel are the various islands that make up the Channel Island National Park. This might be San Miguel Island, but I can never remember which one is which!
Southern beaches, from the Carolinas around Florida and along the Gulf of Mexico coast, have a quality very unlike that of California or New England. Soft white sand, beaches beautifully wide and flat, sea oats, and dunes that catch the breath. The sky is vast and expansive, clouds build up, and there is something grander than can be described. I am trying to capture this, from reality and from imagination.
If you have noticed, over the past several months my paintings, in pastel, gouache, and watercolor, have been centered on the theme of water. Rivers, ocean, lakes. I am beginning to feel comfortable with water now, and it is time to expand the subject matter. Now, simple buildings are going to be included, and sand. Sand is remarkably hard to paint! It varies from dark beige-brown to incredibly bright and white. There is also black sand, but I’m not there yet!
Today’s painting is a church, tucked in the dunes of some coastal island. Sandy, dirt roads run between dunes with scrubby vegetation. It works.
Tropical islands are magical. Big, heavy clouds, low lying fog, brilliant sky, white sand. In the dead of a dreary, dark winter, a tropical isle has a lot of charm. In summer, humidity builds and the air is thick, but if you are in the Caribbean, the trade winds blow and life is a bit more comfortable.
Islands form chains, perhaps peninsulas. Off the coast where I live is an island that reaches out into the sea. It is more like a series of islands connected by narrow bits of land – I expect these will disappear over the next century as waters rise, and then one island may become three or four.
In the pursuit of simplicity, I used a large brush and chose the major colors. I put in verticals to suggest cliffs. Parts of this painting work – and others do not – in particular with a sense of dimensionality and depth of field. I tried to create greys using opposite colors, such as cobalt blue and pyrrol orange. Despite that, I did learn a few things. One, wait and think. Two, use colors far darker than you think are necessary. Three, keep it simpler than you think it should be.