Category Archives: oil paint

wind and tide painting update

That water sux. I was there for a few hours mixing my colors and trying to paint the water with my palette knife. oops. I h8 it.

I’m just posting it so you can see how hard it is to represent water. I can fix it but not until next week because of the weather coming in and also the times of low tides don’t work for me but they change every day and in a few days it will work again.

Next time I can mix these colors at home. I had a big blob of the light blue gray and it wasn’t enough. It’s a pain when that happens.

The problem with art is you can spend hours on it and not like what you did. It’s ok to rework what you don’t like with oil paint. I’m not worried an art critic will call my paintings “overworked”. That’s a term that makes artists afraid to keep working on a painting until it’s finished. Once and done, fast and loose, that’s what they want to see. Like my mono prints. hahah

winds and tides / underpainting

Yesterday when I got to First Landing the tide pool wasn’t there at all but it was there the day before yesterday. I wondered if it was because I was early. The tides are a half hour or so later every day but I’m not sure, so I checked to see if I was in the same spot. I was there for a couple hours, enough to make up for getting there earlier, working on sketching the scene on this piece of canvas paper and mixing paint colors trying to match the colors of nature.

It was really nice, almost calm so the water was smooth with very tiny waves and the sky was a little cloudy but there was still sun. It was very relaxing to be there. I took a few breaks and still wondered why the tide pool wasn’t there but I could almost see a sand bar as it got later. Maybe my sketch is from low tide and I thought it was high tide. I have to check the chart because I want to catch it low. The day I did my charcoal sketch it was windy and yesterday no wind. Could the wind push the water out and show the tide pool? Tomorrow it might be windy again. It’s more difficult to work on a painting in plein air when it’s windy but I have a good spot on the lee side of a clump of dune grass. And I had my drawing board propped up on my beach cart so it would be easy to paint while sitting on the edge of the beach erosion. I hope I can paint the tide pool and if it doesn’t come back I don’t know, I might fake it or I might let it sit and decide later, but I put it in the underpainting using my sketch as a reference. If I change my mind I can always paint over it, no problem with oils.

Rain Moving Out to Sea / oils

I waited all week for good clouds and it looked like Fri. would be the best day to go out on the beach to finish this. One rain system was going off the coast with another following behind it. When I got over to First Landing I realized I forgot my terpenoid. That’s one problem of painting in plain air, sometimes I forget something I need. For a minute I tried to decide, should I go back home to get it or is the art supply store closer, I decided to hang around and mix the colors I wanted to use and paint at home. It’s a simple scene so I took an hour or so and mixed my colors as accurately as I could for the clouds and sand, and I also tried to memorize cloud shapes. If I ran home to get my terpenoid the clouds would be all different when I got back. It was clearing up and the clouds directly overhead were like layers of moving white gauze with some fluff coming though and some jet trails breaking up. Freakin beautiful, but the sky overhead is never the same as on the horizon.

I had some fun painting the sky at home with my palette knife. This close up shows some of the texture. After I painted the sand and sky I propped it up against the wall where its been for a year already unfinished, and I liked the sky. From where I was sitting on my sofa the high spots in the paint catch the light in the living room and show sparkles in the sky like sunlight on the clouds. And to think I almost threw the painting away when I realized it wasn’t a good composition to put people in the scene. Now I’m glad I finished it after looking at it for that long undecided.

This close up shows a focal point. White against dark, different textures meeting, lines next to solid areas. I painted the water with brushes and the sand with a palette knife.

I tried to decide, does the painting need the pilings or not. I decided to paint them but I had to wait for the sky to dry. They could be a focal point for the art viewer who likes detail.

I think I’ll finish this painting. / oils

I started it about a year ago and wanted to add people on the beach so I started sketching them and found out that from the place I was sitting on the sand the people close to me would block too much of the scene and totally block the people in the background. If I want to paint the bright colors of beach umbrellas and a lot of people I should sit up higher on the side of the sand dunes. So I stopped working on this. Now, I’d just like to finish it and if I can work in a couple people far away I might do that but maybe I’ll paint the beach with no people and try again with another composition for the colorful people having fun later this summer.

In unrelated art news, I was looking at the blog posts on WordPress with the # Virginia Beach and saw a call to enter from the library. There is no charge to enter so I’m considering going for it. I never see another local artist blogging and using #Virginia Beach. The posts are mainly news stories so I was wondering if they put the call to enter on WordPress just for me. hahaha I guess all the other Virginia Beach artists are using other social media sites. Some years back I got my paintings hung in the main library in Richmond.

For the past 3 years most of the paintings I’ve done are on paper because I can save space in my apartment painting on paper instead of on a stretched canvas. I have a lot of paintings stashed under my sofa and chair. I know I have enough to fill the walls at the library but framing the ones on paper would be a big job and could be expensive too. I have a lot of empty frames but I’d have to buy good framing glass for the pastels and boards to spray glue them down onto so I could frame them. Then there’s the problem of my not having anyone who would help me with the job.

Should I go for the library? A lot of people would see my paintings but not be able to afford to buy them. I wonder if anyone would be interested in ordering a print. I could write a rant for people to pick up talking about how much I h8 the art world. That would be fun and not boring like the normal artist statements you see at art shows. I have until March 5 to enter. The jury meets in April.

Behind Dunes @ Back Bay / oils

I took these pix on my balcony in the shade but the colors are better in the sun, warmer.

Close up of sedge, reflections and water

Every time I go there the water is different so I decided that when I was ready to paint water I’d paint it however it looked that day. When I got there today it was almost calm then a little breeze came up but it only broke the water a little.

Water, sedge and reflections.

You can see grass stuck on the wet paint in these photos. It’ll come off when it’s dry.

Water with reflections, sedge, background trees.

I think the smoother textures of the reflections and water look good next to the heavy textures of the sedge and trees.

This was fun to paint and not too difficult. It used up a lot of paint, though.

Back of the Dunes painting update

The sky, background dunes and trees are finished. The water has one coat of paint on top of the underpainting but still needs another layer. The sedge is still in the underpainting stage. I need to work on the sedge before I finish the water.

It took a while to mix the colors I wanted for the gray and brown dunes. The greens were easier to mix but still took some time. When I get the right color I still take more time to work the paint by adding drops of Terpenoid and mixing it in until the paint is evenly runny. Mixing and working the paint is half the job.

A piece of cut grass is sticking to the wet paint but it will come off when it dries.

The real fun part is blobbing down the paint with my palette knife then smearing and scratching through it with the palette knife.

I’m excited about how this is going. I think it will work out!

The first 3 times I was there getting started on this, it was cloudy but the sun finally came out and really brightened the scene. I like the bleak look of the cloudy days, but the sedge is freakin’ gold with the sun on it. Maybe I can finish the painting this week. Tomorrow is supposed to be cloudy then we get more sunny weather for a couple days before it rains again, if the forecast is right.

Back Bay underpainting and wild sea oats

It was a little windy when I got out of my car and this canvas paper flipped out of the tape. The clamps kept it from flying down the parking lot. I got some fingerprints and a few pieces of grass in the sky when I added more tape. That’s ok. I need to go over it again anyway. When it’s windy I don’t stand up my easel, I sit on beach towels and prop it up on my beach cart.

A Great Blue Heron is hanging around in there every time I’m there. I saw him catch some fish. I was thinking of painting a heron in the scene since I have a few sketches of them. All I need to do is match the grays when I’m there in Plein air.

The whole scene is mostly gray and brown and blue but I’ll be able to brighten it up a little more than it is at this step. I don’t want to force color into it, though. Nature is elegant in its true colors even in the winter, as I see it.

I did this underpainting with brushes and some of the paint that was left over from my trip to Maine in Oct. was still wet enough to rework for this. The little blobs of left over paint were under squares of plastic wrap. I want to paint the next layers with a palette knife. I like the palette knife because I don’t have to clean brushes.

These are wild sea oats. Most of the fuzz is gone but they still look pretty by the road in the sun. I see a different variety in yards that still have the fuzz and they are shaped more like long ovals than these narrower wild ones. If I can pick one of the cultivated type without getting in trouble I’ll post it. I’m not sure if I can keep these long enough to sketch them. We’ve had a lot of cloudy weather and not too cold and not much rain. Wind is coming in soon with rain.

Islands at the Schoodic Peninsula, Acadia, Maine

I heard a fog horn when I left breakfast and drove around the loop road in a fog mentally. It’s so pretty I was just day dreaming and didn’t recognize my overlook pull off because the tide was low and it looks totally different at low tide. It was a fun drive on the loop because from one spot up on the hill I was in the clear but could look down on a thick fog rolling in. It was sunny so the fog was bright. Then you go around a corner and it’s gone. If you look away for a minute it’s back. Plus, the trees are all at peak fall color on 186. Acadia has mostly pines but there are colorful trees too.

rocks with seaweed close up

Yesterday I went back out on the rocks at the point in the afternoon and looked down in the chasm at the water churning in. It was too windy. I couldn’t sketch.

I heard someone say, “Is that a seal?” So I looked where they were looking and yes it was a seal in the water with his head up looking at the people. Then he was gone.

close up of background trees and rocks in shadow

I did those skinny tree trunks with the edge of my palette knife.

Tonight I’m having lobster!!

close up of reflections

The first time I painted the water I used my modified fan brush and it looked weak so I did it again with my round brushes using a cooler gray blue and a very light tint of warm gray trying to make the direction of waves. Some times the reflection is there and then it’s gone. I wasn’t sure about painting it then decided to give it a try. Moving water is a challenge. I could use more practice. I hope this is convincing to the art viewer’s eye.

Tomorrow I’m going to drive home. And the next day. I want to come back already.

Homage to Surf and Turf / with close ups

That was fun and I think it worked out. I’ll try another pointillist painting next year.

If you eat enough crabs you find a claw gripping a leg sometimes. PETA would tell you this is why not to eat crabs. They think their death is a violent struggle. It’s not. When the crab hits the boiling water it’s dead instantly and cooking. They jump and snap their claws but that’s a reflex. When you cut the head off a chicken it can still run. Could the chicken be alive without a head? I don’t think so. The same thing with a snake. They keep moving without a head. The crab has similar nerves but if it got out of the pot and back into the bay it would be dead in the bay.

The legs come off easy in nature. When a predator tries to catch a crab the leg comes off and the crab doesn’t die. It escapes from the predator and grows a new leg! Some sea critters can direct stem cells in their bodies to replace a lost limb. Scientists are trying to learn how they do it so humans can grow new limbs or organs or what they need to live longer.

I had to buy more crabs so I could mix the right colors. I like the colors of nature and try to match them most of the time. When I started dotting this crab I had one on the table as a model and I noticed that my sketch in the underpainting stage wasn’t finished. The crab has a face from this perspective and I dotted it in. He looks happy. The crab mouth isn’t a horizontal slit. It’s more like two vertical slits from what I could see feeding ghost crabs last year.

This is a focal point on the far right, a black dot close to white dots.

This is another reason I’m glad I didn’t skip the color rough stage. When I did the rough I wasn’t sure about how to paint the table top. Checked tablecloth or no checks? And where to draw the edge of the table so one crab can be falling off. I didn’t do the checks and the painting doesn’t need them. I lowered the edge of the table and now I like the way that one leg breaks the line.

The subject falling off the edge of the table is an old master trick to make the art viewer want to be in the picture. You want to push it back from the edge. The masters often had fabric or plates or grapes or something going off the edge. It also represents “we all fall down”.

I wasn’t originally planning to have the horse step on the crabs but when I drew it on the canvas with charcoal I made corrections on the sketch and the hoof was on the crabs. I decided not to redraw it, just let it be.

The horse was really hard to do. It’s a view where you see down onto the horse’s back which foreshortens the neck and legs. Also the right front hoof is closer to you than the right rear hoof. Since you’re looking at it on an angle instead of directly from the side the body is slightly foreshortened. I drew it and redrew it so many times all freehand. I knew if I kept at it I’d get something close to visually realistic. This was good drawing practice.

I leave you with some flowers.