I guess the two new big ones are Pampas Grass and the wild Sea Oat is in the middle, but I’m not sure if I have the right names for these grasses.
I was out scouting for a good place to paint and walked a couple miles looking down the side trails at First Landing State Park, got a sketch started of a pretty dead tree in the marsh but didn’t finish it because I was tired already. Not every expedition out in Plein air to sketch is a success but the walk was nice.
I have a painting planned from a scene at Back Bay but there’s construction on the Sandbridge Rd and I picked up another screw in a tire. That’s two screws in my tires in only six months. I can go for 20 years without getting a screw in a tire then get two in less than a year?! Fortunately, I paid for an extended warranty on my new tires a couple months ago and they gave me a new tire, and at least I didn’t have a flat out on the highway but the tire pressure light came on close to home. This is a little concerning.
The road construction is everywhere. I don’t know if I’ll go back to Back Bay or Sandbridge. And how is it that so many screws fall out of trucks in construction zones, or is that just my luck?! weird.
We have nice weather again tomorrow then cloudy on Sun. and then a chance of rain four days in a row if the forecast is right.
Last year I picked up a couple lotus pods at a little lotus park on Sandbridge Rd. I think they’re spooky. Today after my dentist appointment I was already half way down there so I went back and got a few new ones and this leaf. They need to dry a few days on my balcony.
The guy upstairs has a bird feeder on his balcony so some seeds fall on my balcony and some birds come down to eat. I need to sweep it again. I don’t mind the extra dirt from his feeder. If it draws mice someone else will complain but I didn’t see signs of any so far. I think that guy is military and I like those guys.
The weather forecast said we’re in for a king tide this week and maybe some rain for Halloween. I like a neap tide more because my paths aren’t flooded and I can see oysters when the tide is out. The lotus garden park has more water than I saw last year. Most of the pods are underwater today. I climbed down to the mud to get these.
I was thinking of doing the still life with the subjects arranged at random and not on a flat table but to look like they’re floating in air, kind of an antigravity feel, if I can. Gathering subjects is the first step. I’ll sketch and decide how to arrange them later. I might not use all of ones I collected.
My daughter and granddaughter gave me the gourds. The one with green and white reminds me of a flying saucer and the orange one is alien looking too. I was thinking of drawing the orange one larger than life for a background.
Today I walked at First Landing State Park and took my sketchbook but was too tired to sketch anything after walking but I found some good places to draw where I could get off the main path. I might go back tomorrow. Hopefully the sun will come out because it’s more beautiful then. That red marsh weed would be so bright with the sun on it. The Spanish moss is all over the place and on the ground where it fell off branches. That stuff is spooky all year long.
The good drawing spot has a couple bushes that are blooming with tiny white flowers. I hope they last a while. We might not get a freeze for weeks. The frost warning came close the other night but not all the way to the oceanfront. Some fall color is showing but it won’t go all out big time like it does farther North.
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 took this photo in my dining room light so the colors are a little too warm. I’m excited because one more difficult step is done and I’m almost finished with the painting. The crabs, they kind of sparkle or shimmer to my naked eye. I’m not sure the effect is working on the computer screen.
This project has taken me months with all the sketches I did and all the planning. A few hours at a time and not every day is how I’m getting it done. The flowers and horse are still in the underpainting stage and will need two coats of dots because the background plant and the crabs needed two coats, The horse looks like the most difficult part and I’ll probably do it last.
The reason the crabs are shimmering is because tiny dots of the underpainting are showing through. The underpainting for the crabs was in cool grays and the dots on the crabs are warm orange and red, so the complimentary tints are close to the same value but opposite causing the shimmery look.
The shimmer is a thing I like about pointillism so I’m excited because I think all the hard work I put into it is going to pay off.
Some unplanned things happened with this. I’ll show more close ups with some weird happenings when it’s all done.
I got a start on my 5 crabs and 1 crab claw. I’ll have to go over the crabs again when this dries. You can see a lot of the underpainting gray showing through the dots. If I fill that in with more dots the crabs will be brighter and more solid looking. It took hours to dot the first crab colors but the second layer of paint will be a little faster and easier.
On Oct. 1 I’m leaving for my vacation in Maine. I’m counting down the days. Art camp is Oct. 6 to the 13th. I’m driving so I think I’ll get to Acadia on the 3rd and I’ll have a couple days to scout for the best locations to paint and maybe get a sketch. One week isn’t much time for me to do a painting since I go through a slow process ( I won’t try to do pointillism ) but I got 2 paintings done at the Ghost Ranch in one week and if I don’t finish a painting in 1 week I can stay a few extra nights in Bar Harbor if I want to. There’s no reason I’d have to rush home.
The thing I really like about art camp is that they advertise it as “no drama” which means no pressure, no contest, no judgement, etc. All the Plein air painters there will be knocking out a painting every day, some will be doing more than 2 a day. But I’m free to do whatever I want to and I won’t hear anything about it if I don’t put my painting up for display every night. Because I don’t really want to paint like that.
Also, the food will be great if the Ghost Ranch was any indication of future food plans. I’m a big fan of Eric for putting these great art vacations together, I’ve wanted to go to Acadia for 20 years. 20 years ago I entered an art show in Kennebunkport and got accepted so I shipped my painting and my daughter went with me to the opening. Acadia is North of Kennebunkport but I wanted to see more of Maine and when we got to Acadia it was cold. It was warm in VA. and she didn’t bring her coat so we just drove around the loop but didn’t hike.
Phone reception and internet access might be spotty up there but I’ll take my camera and lap top so I can do a blog post from art camp if possible. And I hope I can finish this still life before I go.
I’m so excited about my pearly shadows! It’s not even boring painting dots! I could do it for hours! I’d call it a zen way to paint, but I don’t know if a real zen person would agree.
The way to make pearly shadows is to use warm gray next to cool gray. The art viewer’s eye will mix the dots for you and you get a lively gray not a dead gray. This is an old trick that a lot of artists know in theory but they don’t like gray so they don’t do it.
In this photo you can see the leg of the horse on the left and the crab in shadow on the right both still in the underpainting stage, and the flower stem crossing over the crab.
I made a lot of progress on the painting but I want to work on the green leaves and stems more. So far I’m doing the background, table top and flower, all cool colors on top of warm underpainting colors. I haven’t started on the crab colors or the horse or the flowers. I might have to wait for this to dry a little so I don’t smear it.
This is how I prepare the paint for dotting. Mix terpenoid in a little at a time with the palette knife until it’s smooth and soft then pick up a blob with the palette knife and mix more terpenoid into the paint with a paintbrush. Be careful not to have a blob of paint on the bottom of the palette knife because it might drip onto the painting causing a bad blip. With a good brush and runny paint you can get 20 or more dots if the paint is flowing off the brush nicely, without going back to reload the brush with paint. I’m using #3 round brushes. I’ve seen pointillist paintings with smaller dots but I think this is working.
If you hold the brush in one hand and the palette knife in the other hand you don’t have to keep reaching back to the palette for more paint. It’s a slow process but less wasted movement is a little more efficient over the course of the painting.
This will be my new pointillism experiment. I wish I knew how the pointillism masters did it because I like the visual effect. It’s kind of a color experiment. I tried to do a dot painting before and I’m still trying to figure out what works best. Do they draw an outline on a white canvas and start dotting on white or do they do and underpainting? I did the underpainting because this is complicated. I’m guessing Seurat did an underpainting.
My underpainting is in warm and cool gray. The areas showing up in warm gray will be dotted on top with cool colors and the crabs, horse and flowers will be warm colors so they are the blue gray in the underpainting. The underpainting colors might show through or even if they don’t show they will have some effect on the finished dot colors.
Some times I try a color experiment using complimentary colors in the underpainting and I don’t always like the finished look. These crabs, if I used green that is the compliment of red, or blue is the compliment of orange, the two main colors in the crab being shades of red and orange, the color contrast would be very strong. In fact it might look psychedelic which is not my favorite look in a painting. So this time I used grays instead of pure blue or green for this part. I hope you can see what I’m trying to do, make color contrast but not so contrasty that it looks psychedelic.
This is a big painting for dotting all over it. What if I have to go over it twice?! OH NO!! hahaha Then what if it looks stupid finished?! OH H-LL NO!! It could happen. That’s how it is with art experiments. I’ll give it my best shot but it could take a couple more weeks so don’t worry, I’ll post it and let you decide, either way.
I did this color rough full size because I already have my subjects drawn this size and this helped me arrange them and make some executive decisions on how to paint this.
I’ll stand this up against the wall and try to make more decisions before I can paint, like, do I really want to use the checkered tablecloth or is it too busy? Because I could just paint it to look like my white plastic work table which is under the tablecloth.
Is that crab falling off the edge of the table too far gone? Maybe I should move the edge down 1/2 inch.
Is that flower going to work for the background? Is this arrangement working with my subjects this size? Do I need to try another arrangement? Do I really want to paint this? etc.
Considering the amount of time I already have in it starting with a few tries to draw the horse, the time spent on sketching the crabs, The time spent on sketching the tablecloth and flower, it all comes out to possibly 20 hours so far and it might take another 20 to paint it because I’m planning on trying pointillism again. After I spend that much time on it will I like it?
Having to make a lot of decisions for a painting can slow me down sometimes. I’m not one of those artists that can whip out a finished painting. Abstract mono prints, those I can whip out.
Any advice will be appreciated. More contrast? Composition ok? etc.