Along the Oregon Coast

If you think that the SoCal coast can be foggy, Oregon is by far more foggy at times!  It’s an incredibly beautiful coastline with wide, nearly empty beaches.  Out to sea are the sea stacks, some large, some small.  In clear weather they are stunning, in the fog, spooky and eerie.

Today, a limited palette and paying particular attention to laying down water and thin colors.  Washes are the dominant technique used here.  My little picky brush strokes had to give way to broad ones for the beach and damp sand.  It actually worked fairly well.  Water, water, everywhere!

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 (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?

The Slough (Pastels)

I have been busy sewing masks for friends and family, and it’s been a slow process, taking a lot of time. However, I am back to my determination to paint or draw something every day, either in the morning or in the afternoon. As I had an appointment this morning, I used this rainy, rainy afternoon to paint the Goleta Slough. Or part of it. Generally speaking, I rather like it – all those little dabs of white, grey, and black are seagulls and other critters. The sand jutting out needs to be fixed – seems like it is riding upward or something, but …. ?

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.

View from the Hills

The miracle of green always happens in the last of the year and the first of the next when the rains come and new growth begins to emerge in the hills of California.  After months of dry weather and fading landscapes. color erupts almost overnight.  Soon, wildflowers will begin to tinge the hills from green to orange and purple and yellow.  Here, a view from the hills toward the Pacific, with the Channel Islands in view, lost in the coastal fog.

Along the Italian Coast

This was a rather fun painting to do just because it forced me to really rethink using white.

The ocean was the problem.  I thought I had put it in so it would be fairly light, particularly toward the distant shore.  Instead, when it dried, it was darker than I wanted.  The trees on the hill in the midground were essentially the same value as the water!  This was quite an eye-opener.  In the end, I put plain white (zinc) onto the paper, and kept blending it in until I got it where it was acceptable.

From there, it was back to the background.  It was also too bright.  I toned that down, and greyed it up a bit.  The background shore was too bright.  More work.  Then, back to the midground, foreground, buildings and boats.  I painted – with oodles of white! – the buildings, making them abstract shapes and then adding slightly darker shades to make the buildings seem 3-D.  More trees.  Finally, reflections, boats, and their reflections.

While I don’t consider this to be one of my better paintings, it is certainly one filled with lessons, in particular the usage of white (lots!), perhaps in the future check the colors on a separate piece of paper to see how light or dark they will dry, and finally deliberately trying to create abstract color blobs for buildings and trees that are discernible as such, but still indistinct in the distance.

I am ordering more white today!

Shore Path

We spent a few days up on the Monterey Peninsula last week.  I took lots of pictures, some with the camera, some with the phone.  Digital is wonderful for catching so much – but it also keeps you from seeing things at times if you use the scatter gun approach that digital photography allows.  I tried to frame my photos more thoughtfully than I sometimes do, taking time to consider composition and so on.  All of this was with reference to the idea I would like to use material from my trip as potential painting subjects.

Above is one such example.  Once more, my sense of depth is not the best.  I tried to employ some of the techniques I know – atmospheric depth, less detail in the distance – but I really didn’t do a great job.  In some ways, the painting sort of created itself.  The path in the photo was curvier – way curvier – but it decided to become straighter as I painted.  I just noticed that!

Anyway, I am planning to continue to paint every day.  I do have some great subject matter.  I plan to alternate watercolor and gouache, and become a bit more academic – find things I want to work on, and then study it, whether from a book or an online video.

I can say I have improved over time, but I am not where I would like to be.  The question always at the back of my mind is, what do I do when I get where I want to be?

Anacapa Island

The Channel Islands off the coast of California are amazing to visit.  Only recently (don’t remember when) they became a national park, to protect both the islands and their flora and fauna, as well as to protect the waters surrounding them.  Anacapa is a very distinctive island.  It has an arch on one end, and zig-zags, snakelike, as it emerges from the water.  I have visited this island, both on the land, and in a boat sailing around.  It’s a truly lovely place, one worth visiting, painting, exploring, and photographing.

Here, I finished up using the available paints on my muddy palette.  The final painting with that mess!  As with yesterday’s painting, I have added white to the palette for colors, but for the most part, these are colors salvaged from the mess on the palette.

Truth be told, I really did not expect this painting to turn out at all.  My colors were just such a mess.  I simplified everything as much as I could.  I managed to get some sense of depth, which also surprised me!