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.