I needed a change of pace – a way to relax – after yesterday’s very intense painting of buildings and people. It’s nice to visit familiar territory. But, I was not without goals. Here I worked on subtle gradations and color change in the sky; misty / soft trees in the horizon using moist paper to blur and indicate distance; a couple of buildings with subtle rooftops; snow. On Arches CP 140#, 9×12.
I did this one yesterday afternoon, meant to post it, but something distracted me. And, I cannot even remember what it was!
A rather quick sketch of a frozen creek . . . later in the day, sun is going down.
Where have I been these last several weeks? Busy with online classes in drawing as a prelim to painting and hand sewing 18th century stays. So, I have been doing things, but have had so many other distractions that I have not been too active online here. So, today, a gouache, just because paint needs to be used to feel like a normal person.
Jalama Beach is in San Luis Obispo County along the central coast of California. It is a strange, remote beach. Winds blow the sea foam onto the sand, and it can look like very dirty snow. The first time I came here was in my teens – a long, long time ago. Then you could get abalones just by picking them up, and the beach was littered with their shells, big ones easily 8-10 inches in diameter. (Tasty critters, I will say.)
Winter time brings erratic tides, scudding clouds, and wind that can blow fierce and cold. Sandpipers and gulls wheel overhead as the wind beats you back. The wildness of the place is something that anyone who has been to a lonely beach can understand. I think I caught it (for myself at least) here.
When I first started to paint in watercolor – like when I was a teenager! – the advice was to use a brush bigger than what you think you need. Yeah, right. Over the years, I have resisted this, but lately I have been doing the majority of my painting with a 1.5 inch flat brush. From there, different brushes with different ideas in mind.
Here, 16×20 CP 140# Arches. I sponged the entire paper with water and then set in the sky. From there, the water and grasses along the shore, working to get blurring of colors into the wet paint. Then, the horizon with the same 1.5 inch brush. I let it dry.
From that point, it was a matter of thought. Initially, the sky dried to a pale color, so I laid in more dark paint for the sky, using a spray bottle to move the paint around, and holding the painting by hand, tilted the paper this way and that to run the paint in various directions.
Looking at it upside down always gives a new perspective, sometimes good, sometimes not. I added some dry brush for the weeds, and used a wet mixture of blues for the snow shadows. I also painted a darker version of the same snow blue into the distant water, moving it into the weeds / reeds. Then, more dry brush once the water had dried to overlap the paint I applied.
This is a stronger painting than some of my more more recent ones, and I will credit the large, flat brush forcing me to work simply. It’s actually much more fun, and easier, in many ways, because I am not getting finicky to the point of crazy.
Progress is being made!
Getting there, but not quite.
I added more frisket, colors, salt. I also began adding acrylic paint thinned down quite a bit. Now, another night of letting it stew, but I already think I know what I want to do with it. For instance, I want to add more blue in the lower left foreground in that rather large white blob. Perhaps some sense of geometric texturing by adding tape and then painting over it. White streaks for snow on trees? It’s hard to tell.
Waiting is a good thing to do.
Today it is still cold! I went out with my drawing class early this morning – 53F! (Laugh if you want – but that is really unusually cold where I live.) The sun came out and warmed us up, but I still felt the chill when I got home. A hot lunch started to thaw my chilly bones – so let’s consider that Spring is around the corner, and the thaw begins with running creeks.
I should have gone to my Pencil Portraits class . . . but it was raining and cold and it’s outdoors. I’m a wuss, enjoying snow and ice from a distance. Thus, biting cold, frost, and snow fog. Wander along the road, beneath the trees, and remain in my snug house with a cup of cocoa and blues a-playing in the background. Not a rough life.
For some reason, winter is just in my head and in my paint brush these days. Probably I like it so much because I don’t have to deal with its less lovely elements, such as shoveling snow to commute on icy roads. Rather, I would be walking through the countryside for hours as I did when I was a kid back east, enjoying the cold air and the silence and the gentle falling of flakes.
Where I live there isn’t a very big likelihood of snow. At higher elevations, yes, but here in coastal California, 800 feet isn’t gonna get it.
So, I dream.
I’ve lived in some places with stunning countryside, such as rural Illinois, upstate New York, in the Rockies of Colorado. Snow was beautiful and thrilling. As a kid, it’s a wonderland, but I remember my mother would always kvetch about all the little mittens, the snowsuits, the boots, the scarves, the this and that to get a herd of kids dressed to play – and then ten minutes later, they are all back in the house.