Sometimes an intimately scaled painting of something ordinary feels like a poem – you can hold it in your hand and it focuses the attention until you can see just how extraordinary the simplest thing or place is. Such is Poem from Cape Cod.
Technical painting notes: Some paintings are a gift – they seem to paint themselves. This small oil of a wave seen on an ordinary morning on Cape Cod is a case in point. I ruled in the horizon line, roughed in some transparent colors where the water and beach would be, then left it to dry – 15 minutes. The following morning I painted in the gesture of the waves using impasto medium and titanium white, then painted in the sky (blending with a fan brush). On the third day I finished the painting, detailing the water and lightly glazing some gray-blue over the sand. As I skimmed the grayed color over the underpainting near the bottom of the painting, I realized that the rough strokes of burnt umber showing through looked wonderful. I suddenly had shallows where none were intended!
This is one of the advantages of working with (mostly) transparent pigments – in this case much of the painting was handled almost like a watercolor, with soft brushes and thin “washes” of color. Colors used include: gold ochre, transparent red oxide, ultramarine blue, thalo blue, and burnt umber. Only the titanium white was nearly opaque.
Tip – always use a high quality titanium white like Gamblin Titanium White – it’s the easiest way to achieve crisp highlights over other colors.