An early June morning on the Cape Cod National Seashore near Marconi – sometimes the simplest things are the best.
Technical painting notes: I found the luminous atmosphere and extremely subtle shadows on the dune to be the greatest challenge, and surprisingly not the dune grass. I began the painting by drawing the horizon line just below center, then scumbling a mixture of blues, burnt umber, and iron oxide mixed with Liquin Impasto medium over the lower half, indicating the shape of the dune and using more blue where the water would be and more iron oxide and a touch of greenish umber where the dune grass would be. By using a stiff, bristle filbert brush I was able to leave streaky marks that provided a gesture of grass.
When this layer was dry, I painted the sky using a range of blues mixed with a bit of burnt umber in the gray clouds. I added a slight touch of dioxazine violet to the gray mixture near the horizon, to echo the slight bits of red on the dune. I used a small fan brush to blend the sky. While the sky was wet, I then mixed a transparent green/gray/blue and lightly stroked in the water, blending and blurring the horizon line to increase the sense of distance and atmosphere.
Next, I mixed a range of warm and cool tans with a touch of violet in them to use for the sand. Again, working with semi-transparent color and a soft brush, I let some of the underpainting show through as I painted in the rhythm of footsteps. I used the grayer shades on the dune, adding a touch of blue. The grass was achieved very simply, by letting the underpainting show through and adding the barest touch of transparent gray/green in a few places. Often, the less said the more real the feeling of place, and that was the case with this intimate little view from Cape Cod.