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?

Coastal Dawn

Evidence of overworking is present in the white highlights . . . they just don’t seem to go with the rest of the painting insofar they are too bright.  I was thinking in terms of photography and histograms – white point, black point.  I wonder if I am criss-crossing two different art formats.  Besides that, the rocks are perhaps too orange for the distant sky, although sandstone can take on an incredibly orangish color under the right light.

Hmmmmm.

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.

Detail and Edges, iii

In the spirit of details and edges to convey perspective, as well as the fact I was really intrigued by the water and rocks and such from yesterday’s painting, I went to Rick Surowicz’s YouTube channel.  I know he has a lot of videos, some which feature flowing water.  I chose his study “Rushing Waters” to practice detail and edges along with perspective.  

I am rather pleased with the way my version of this study came out.  As I do these practice studies, I find I am beginning to rely on myself more and more for painting.  In other words, 6 months ago I would bemoan the fact that my painting does not look like the photo or the painting I was using as a study.  Now, while I look and learn from the instructions, I also am comfortable making my own painting decisions.

I really like Surowicz’s work.  His attention to detail and ability to explain his process of painting really helps the person attempting to learn.  This kind of knowledge sinks in with time, and it’s a lot of fun to see one’s own progress both on paper and in one’s head . . .

Some Thoughts

When I do studies like this one, and am pleased with the results, I think one day I will be a good painter.  When?  That is the question.  Copying someone’s work is pretty easy once you get the hang of it – but what about producing original paintings which are not copies and practice studies of another’s?

I know that we all need to practice what we want to learn.  Sometimes, though, it would be nice to “get there” more often than not!

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.