WWM #16: Relaxing

Painting and relaxing at the beach are perfect expressions of this prompt for #WorldWatercolorMonth2019.

Relaxing – so what comes to mind? I thought of ways I like to relax – reading, going on a hike, baking, going to the beach. The beach won! No matter what the mood, the shore is always a place to relax. Soft wind, strong wind; soft cloudy skies or fierce rain; vast stretches of sand, rocky coasts that are difficult to walk upon.

I don’t do beach sand very well. I dug out a great book, “Take Three Colours: Watercolour Seascapes” by Geoff Kersey.  It’s a nice book for beginners as it explains so many things and techniques, works with a limited palette, and a few brushes.  His samples are illustrated number by number.  I rather like them as they make me think differently – I am a magpie and I go for  50 different colors, not 3!

WWM #16: Relaxing – #1, from a study in “Watercolor Seascapes” by Geoff Kersey

Thus, I warmed up with Kersey’s study called “Sand Dune” – perfect for the beach, I would say.  Not my best, but it was a study in techniques, not a work of art.  Techniques included mixing greens and terra cotta.  I had to substitute Organic Vermilion for his WN Light Red, and play a bit, but I limited myself to the Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Yellow along with the OV.

WWM #16: Relaxing – Path to the Sea

Warmed up, off to Pixabay!  I wanted something simple and beachy.  This sandy path to the foggy horizon got my attention.  No, you cannot see the ocean, but you know it’s there!  I tried to catch the subtlety of a the fog in the distance, aiming to soften the grasses as the painting moved into the distance.  I also wanted to keep it warm – the foggy day with a bright sun trying to break through.

WWM #16: Relaxing – Sea Grasses Along the Shore

Another image from Pixabay.  I may have painted it before.  There is something so lovely about this beach – deserted, alive with plants and animals, the slap of water on the shore.  I can smell the sea, too:  salty, briney, a bit rank from marshlands.  This painting is also more complex.  I am not sure if I got the sense of distance correct (I have no depth perception), so I worked at making distant items simpler and paler / bluer.  The grasses nearer the beach perhaps could have less detail.  Hmmmm.

WWM #16: Relaxing – Storm Along the Pacific Shore

Finally, a painting from a photo I took several years ago when my friend Glenn and I hit the Central Coast of California, north of Santa Barbara.  We visited Refugio Beach and El Capitan Beach.  I cannot recall which one this was, but the mood was one of wind and cold, and a storm coming or going.  The Pacific was dark, as was the sky; the wind was blustery.  Altogether, it was an adventure!  We were cold and shivery, but so pleased with just being out in the wind and weather.

Of all of the paintings, the last two are my favorites for different reasons.  I painted for about 5 hours, too.  Relaxing?  You bet!  I love the beach, and it was a delight to paint it today.

WWM #2: Sunny Sky

I truly love scenes of the Caribbean and the Mediterranean and Southern California – places where the sun is brilliant, walls are white, shadows are blue and glowing, palm trees clack in the wind, and bougainvillea brightens the day with shades of mauve or pink or salmon.

Two people come to mind when I think of painting such scenes – classically, Winslow Homer, and more in our own era, the recently passed Charles Reid.  Both men caught the flavor of such scenes, and I hope I did here, too.  The beauty of the Caribbean cannot be denied and its sunny days are memorable for their clarity and stunning colors of sky, sea, and land.

Coastal Grassland

Another landscape, another limited palette.  For this painting I used ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, burnt umber, sap and cobalt greens, a splash of raw sienna.  9×12 Fabirano Artistico.

I wanted to see if I could convey a good sense of depth, moving from the foreground with warmer colors to the distance with more neutral and greyish colors.  Contrast, too, was considered for eye appeal, leading lines, depth.

If you look at the grasses in the foreground, you can see grass blades.  I used a very dry flat brush to accomplish this, sometimes using a lighter green and brushing upward, or darker green to brush into the lighter green.  Negative painting!

The Beach at Carlsbad

Carlsbad is a lovely beach town in Southern California.  The beach is wide and flat; at low tide it stretches forever.  Water is all you see to your left, to your right, and westward . . . The flat blue sky often blends into the ocean, making where one ends merge with where one begins.

This Morning’s Disaster

This morning I set out to do a couple of things.  First was to do another ink / pen drawing.  I used the same sketchbook as I did yesterday, one with lightweight paper that worked very well yesterday.  Second, the attempt to stretch myself a bit and do a beach scene.  I find waves incredibly difficult.

The sketch itself was okay – nothing particularly challenging in and of itself.  I rather liked the composition.  However, if you look at the sketch above, do you see those little greyish streaks in the lower left and center?  That should have clued me in then and there – the paper is very thin.  Water?  What was I thinking of?

And here we are, with washes applied with a lot of water.  Even though you cannot see it, the paper became mottled in appearance, buckled and crumpled.  Ugh!  But, what the hell, I may as well try something.  And thus, I picked up my box of Caran D’Arche’s Neocolor II crayons, and carried on . . .

Having never really used the Neocolor crayons before, I will say I liked them.  I scribbled in colors which I thought might work, and then laid other colors on top of them to blend before using water.  And then with a waterbrush – not a laden brush – I smoothed and shaded.

I am not pleased with this picture at all, but I still learned something about a medium I haven’t really explored – the watercolor crayons. On a heavier paper designed to take water, there is a lot of potential here.  I love coloring, so I can see myself moving into this area, perhaps more so than with watercolor pencils, which seem more delicate to me in their color rendering, but perhaps that is wrong as I have limited experience with them as well.

Oh, well.  The picture was a disaster, but the potential far outweighs it.

 

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.

Peninsula

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.