This is a 24 x 30 canvas. Now I wish I had a 24 x 36 so I could paint more ships out there. They look huge when they come into the picture on the right but you can see them far away too. Sometimes if you hang around there for a couple hours you can see 12 or more boats of different kinds.
I’ll go back tomorrow and paint the sky when we get some nice clouds. Today it’s sunny and only a little haze. I’ll paint the fence when I get the clouds in then I’ll have to go back with my sketchbook and do some ship sketches. I want to paint people in the scene too. The water’s still too cold to get in but the kids are working on their sand excavations in the afternoon.
It was cool with a strong breeze out of the Southeast this morning. I had to keep a hand or foot on the canvas or it would blow down. Sand got all over it and into the paint on my palette.
A man came over to check my progress and he said he didn’t notice the sand bar until he saw it in my painting.
OH NO! Look at all those little lines I painted! Yikes! The jurors would h8 it! You’re supposed to use big brushes and simplify! Not spend hours painting lines!! hahahaha When some well meaning person tells me to use bigger brushes I say, “Yeah, I should use big brushes.” Then I use whatever brush I want to use.
I’m excited about my progress on the swamp background. It needs more work because I didn’t paint the Spanish moss in the background trees yet. I started on the foliage in the middle ground and didn’t start on the edge of the water which is in the foreground. The cypress branch in the foreground is almost lost because I painted background trees right over it in places. I can bring it back. That’s one thing I enjoy about oil paints. You can start out with thin glazes and slowly build up more opaque thicker paint and cover your previous lines.
I’m taping my brushes to yard sticks and standing way back to paint. There are places the brush went out of control but it’s ok. I’m getting better at controlling the brush from 3 feet back.
Here’s a close up of some background trees with a texture added to represent bark on the closer trees. It was fast and easy to paint that texture with my modified fan brush.
I don’t know how well my grays show up in this photo. The grays don’t look flat to my naked eye. This is something that a lot of artists don’t enjoy, all the gray in the landscape around here in the winter, but I like it and I’ll try to capture it. The way to keep your grays nice is to mix equal parts burnt umber and ultramarine blue to make black. Add more brown and you get a warm black. Add more blue and you get a cool black. Then to get the pearly effect you alternate warm grays and cool grays, lighter grays and darker grays. You can add some gray to your background green and it makes that green recede compared to the green in the foreground which doesn’t have any gray added. Knowing how to work with grays can help give the illusion of depth in a painting. I mean if you’re interested in creating that illusion, but I realize it’s an effect not appreciated in modern art and every artist does their own thing. I bet out of the few thousand students that ever attended YAA I might be the only one following the old ways and I am trying to mix it up a little by taping my brushes to yard sticks and sometimes playing around with mono prints.
This looks busy, doesn’t it.? I’m not sure if it will work. Maybe I should swamp it with terpenoid and see if that improves it.
I’m excited about the collage plan that started with mono prints using these colors and I added violet for this step. The mono prints were thin paint so I decided to use thick paint for the background and smear it on randomly with palette knives.
Most of this will get covered when I put the mono prints on top. It will take forever to dry. I could work on it again tomorrow if it partially dries. At least I made a little progress on it because the weather isn’t good today, cold, rainy, windy yuck out there.
Anyway, the collage idea is inspired by “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” It’s going to be fun!
I was undecided if I should post this. On the one hand, the painting might work but on the other hand, I don’t know exactly how to proceed and it might be a huge waste of time. But if any bloggers with more water media experience want to give me a tip, it might help
I did my sketch in plein air then started blobbing in some yellow flowers without drawing them on the paper in plein air. I thought I didn’t need to draw the flowers a second time. I painted on dry watercolor paper. I drew in the stems and leaves that day with pencil but came home and put a thin layer of green down on dry paper for the leaves.
I took a few watercolor classes long ago but never mastered it. I remember a few things, like, start out light and go darker.
I wanted to paint dune grass around the goldenrod but that took some time since I went over the whole background one section at a time between the leaves. I first made the paper wet in a few areas at a time, then drew lines with the Inktense pencils to make grass. Then I rewet the grass areas to blend the Inktense lines down a little. That’s 3 times over each little area. I broke that job up over a day and took frequent breaks to do other things.
Last time I was there, a bunch of guys were fishing and people were walking past me. I was sitting on the sand next to the path. I’d like to continue working on this in plein air but it might be busy there today because the weather is so nice. I picked some goldenrod to help me visualize the next step so I can finish this at home.
On the painting above, I left some blank lighter areas in the flowers. Those spaces are going to be the shaded parts of the flowers if it works. I need to go darker there. I tried to pick some colors with my color charts when I was there, but I don’t know… And I think the leaves need to go darker. Then, last but not least, I want to go over the yellow flowers in the sun again and try to define them a little. You can see from the photo, my flowers in the painting don’t look like the ones in the glass.
This is how far I got on it after 4 mornings of going out on the dune to paint and staying for 2 or 3 hours each time. It was sunny and not hot so, very enjoyable out there. My Gluteus Maximus had a workout 4 mornings in a row hauling my art supplies up the dune on the deep soft sandy path. The beach cart makes it possible but not easy. And I have a dark tan, which is really only a darker shade of red because I don’t tan well. It doesn’t feel sunburned. They’re calling for cloudy and rainy days all week. bummer, because I’m almost finished with the painting. I could finish it this week if the sun comes out. I hope they change the weather forecast. I guess there are plenty of things for me to do at home that I neglected lately because this painting took a lot of energy last week.
The tree is still only roughed in. I had to work on the background first. I considered finishing it at home but most of the time when I work on a painting at home, when I get back to the scene I don’t like what I painted at home.
The background was easier to paint than I thought it would be and I like the blue, but now my dark green leaves look too dark and because I taped my brushes to yardsticks the blue and green smeared.
I might work on the leaves again today. You can see some smears in this close up. I’m not sure if I’ll go over the background again or not. Darn it. I should make that decision before I repaint the leaves.
I wish I could ask Matisse for advice. I don’t want advice from Picasso. hahaha What would Matisse say?
It was windy but nice to be out after a lot of days that were too hot and humid and rainy to paint in plein air. Finally! I could go back down there to work on this again. The wind was around 20 to 25 mph I think. It almost blew me down when I stood up. Last time it was windy too. It felt good but the blowing sand got in everything.
the wind was blowing my brush around because I had it taped to a yardstick and was sitting back a yard away from my painting, like Matisse did. It’s a lot of fun but you have to give up some control. Can you see the craziness in this close up? Sand in my paint? Scribbling because of wind and sand? I doubt anyone could call this painting “tight” hahahah
I enjoy it a lot but maybe other artists wouldn’t.
That big dark slash there, that’s a blip of the brush because of wind and sand. I’m not sure how I’m going to fix that but I fixed the bad place in the sky so I’ll do something to break up that dark blob. Note the sand getting bad by the time I got this far with it.
I’m trying to decide if I should brush the sand off when this dries or leave it there. Some of it won’t come off.
Just as I was packing my things to leave the wind blew my canvas paper off the drawing board and it flipped back with the paint in the sand. I thought that was too much but it didn’t wreck it any worse than it was already. I had to quick slap more tape on it before it started flapping in the wind. This is the kind of plein air experience that might deter a lot of artists. I’m not fighting nature. Let her mess up my painting. I should care but I don’t.
Too much sand on my palette. I had to quit working on it or else clean my palette out there because I couldn’t mix up another color on top of that mess. The blue colors on top are what was left over from the sky and they’re covered with little pieces of plastic wrap to keep them workable, so maybe that much paint is still ok.
I’m not sure about finishing this. I might go back in a few days after this dries a little or I might finish it at home.
This is a start. It was tiring to lug my art supplies out to the dune and I had everything in my beach cart, but so much fun to paint there. I was saying to myself, This is the life! All those years that I worked at jobs trying to make ends meet and never gave a thought to retirement, then when I started painting in plein air and the beach was far away, I wished I could hop in the car and be there. Then my daughter married a Norfolk guy and says she’s staying in Norfolk, I moved to the beach and it’s great! Norfolk and Virginia Beach are just one huge city to me. If I believed in karma I’d wonder what I did to deserve this, because it was a pure delight out there today. Even though it made me tired, I thought the rewards for doing something difficult are higher than the rewards for doing the easy thing.
My spot is so nice. Picture this. I’m in the only shady place in the dunes. I sat on the sand and leaned against a post. I leaned my painting on a post about 4′ away and spread my stuff out all around me. I found a heavy piece of metal to lean against my painting and had a foot on it too and the wind, which really picked up when I was there, didn’t blow it down. The wind felt good. It was sunny and not too hot. But the best thing is people didn’t notice me there. Only one kid saw me and they all moved on. Since I knew I was hidden I took my yardsticks and taped my brushes to them so I could sit back and paint from far away like my favorite artist, Matisse. That’s why this underpainting is loose looking. And that made it all the more fun.
Since I had my brush taped to a yardstick it went a little wild here and I accidentally smeared some green into the sky. When I tried to wipe it off it only got worse. I wanted to go over the sky again so I’m not worrying about it.
The whole experience was so much fun I don’t even care that sand got all over my painting. It’s not even artfully designed sand and I don’t care. I mean, how zen is that?! I’ll give it a few days to dry and maybe most of the sand will brush off. It won’t all come off but let that be proof for future art historians after I’m dead that I was really right down there in it. I’m like freakin Turner tying himself to a mast in a storm to capture the storm! haha I would never tie myself to a mast because I’d be seasick. It would be great if my efforts would show up in the painting when it’s finished. I want to go back and finish it soon but it might rain in a couple days after this dries enough to work on it again. I need to go over it again twice.
First I had to paint the flowers with white because the pinks won’t show up bright enough on the dark tinted paper since they’re semi transparent colors. Also, I couldn’t see the flowers well enough until I painted them to tell if they look like a good arrangement.
The background texture is from my modified fan brush. I wanted to make a look of pine needles on the ground
The scary part is the pinks. I mixed my colors in plein air sitting next to the azaleas and I think I have the closest pink to what it actually is, but it’s not as bright on my palette as it is in reality. Flower petals allow a little light to go through. They’re not 100% opaque because of the cell structure, if you know what I mean. The sun on the pink petals makes a brighter pink than you can buy in a tube of paint.
I need to do a color rough and see if the pink will be brighter if I use glazes of the two pinks that I have straight out of the tube.
First I need to go over this again and decide where to have shadows and where to have spotty sunlight. Then wait for that to dry before painting the pinks. I’m excited I got this far with the painting and might be able to finish it next week. It can dry this weekend. I’m going to PA.
There was a glare on the painting because of my shiny medium so I had to take the photo from the side instead of head on.
I’m not sure if I’ll go over the tree again or not. It might look like a lot of time consuming line work but its not that difficult and every time you go over a line it gets easier. Painting tiny lines always starts out a little awkward but by the time I’m done it goes fast. The secret is to thin the paint until its runny and have a coat of Maroger medium on the dry painting so you’re painting the lines on top of the slick medium. The background was dry and the medium is clear. If you paint a line where you don’t want one or if your line goes crooked you can easily wipe it off without destroying the background because of that layer of medium.
This close up shows the background vegetation, bushes, trees, whatever. I kind of faked that part. And it shows dead leaves on the ground. The ground is colors I mixed up in plein air and blobbed on at home and then scraped through with my palette knife to mess it up and give it a dead leaf texture. I mixed the colors for the background in plein air too and painted two or three gray greens and some sky spots then blended the edges with my modified fan brush. When the first glaze was dry I mixed up the lighter tint of burnt umber and faked in the bushes at home with my fan brush.
So far, the painting is monochromatic with three different textures.
You can see a few peeks of blue sky but the redbud is a short tree so when you see them from the road you don’t see sky through the branches. A redbud will blend in with the underbrush which hasn’t leafed out yet but it’s getting that more pink or red tint that shows up just before the buds become noticeable. I made my tree stand off the background with the contrast of lighter and darker burnt umber lines. I knew I’d need a background that was close to a middle value from light to dark for the more contrasty sticks to show up. This isn’t realism. They blend in with the underbrush in real life.
This is my modified fan brush. I cut the zig zag edge. Now I can paint five or more lines at once. It holds a lot of paint so when it’s loaded with nice thin paint and I’m painting in the couch, ( on top of the medium ) so I can do a background like this relatively fast. People that don’t know about the modified fan brush will think it took forever to paint all those lines and the hairy texture.
I got this far just in time because I think the redbud will be in full bloom this week. I’m excited because it’s almost finished. The purple flowers are next. I’ll need to underpaint the flowers with white first because the violet and amethyst paint is transparent and it won’t show up very bright on top of this background unless it’s on top of a layer of white.