Watching the Waves Come In is a long-term series that is always in development. Every time I learn something new I see what effect it will have on my little wave paintings. Or sometimes these small paintings inform my larger work. Either way, they are a delight to paint. I used to use a brush when working on them, but now it is mostly the palette knife, with more attention paid to the viscosity of the paint and the choice of paper – smooth or textured watercolor paper (primed). I look for ways to let the viscosity emulate the action of the water – more like sneaking up on the subject rather than trying to copy a moment or view. This approach, at least for me, yields more of the feel of my watery subject. It also allows for random accidents to influence the painting’s development, and life is certainly about the accidents. Enjoy.
I happen to love luminous gray days by the sea. The value range may be narrow, but the feeling of walking into a (nearly) black and white photograph is soothing. Colors are so full of emotion that a bit of gray can be restorative. It doesn’t make as many demands on our senses. With that in mind, i decided to push the minimalist limits of gray in two small beach paintings. There is still a sense of sound from the waves, and I hope you feel the spray. But equally, I hope you enjoy the subtleties in the palette knife handling of the paint, and the gentle contrasts of warmer and cooler in the grays. In fact, the more you look the more color you will see……..
The last days of summer deserve a walk on the beach, and Bright Days is my way of taking that walk. A little fog lifting in the distance, a fresh breeze, rollers making their way to shore – all serve to memorialize a perfect day. Enjoy. Details below.
When I used to photograph waves, I looked for the significant moment when the wave was collapsing – the moment with all the drama. Now, I know that every moment is filled with drama and significance – the building concentration of energy can be more dynamic than the release, and the backwash, the remains of the prior wave returning to the sea, has a beauty all its own. Ultimately, every moment of every wave is unique, challenging, and worth the effort to understand and paint it. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I started the painting with a roll-up (soft rubber roller) of darkly subdued blue greens. While the paint was wet, I used a mixture of oil and mineral spirits to streak and displace some of the thinly applied paint, especially up near the horizon line. I used the same mixture to spatter and blot “spray and bubbles.” To achieve the dragged effect, I used solvent to spatter the wet paint, then a soft brush to drag the dots of solvent, creating elongated drips and gaps. I also used a crumpled piece of plastic wrap to drag some of the solvent pools, again to suggest moving water.
One way to cool off on a summer day – paint the beach. Enjoy.
Nothing happens in isolation. These small dune studies, done in preparation for larger paintings, may, instead, lead to a whole new color-field direction for my coastal work…..
There’s such a challenge painting dunes – the grasses and vegetation, the shifting sands, the soft and muted colors later in the year. I think it’s all those in-between colors that first drew me in, and the open space. There’s also a quality of emptiness, despite the vibrant life that calls this environment home. The dunes, being un-anchored, also remind me of the transience of life. Things happen and disappear. I think on that. Details below.
Technical painting notes: I used many monoprint techniques on this painting, beginning with a roll-up of umber and sienna oil paints which were manipulated to capture the broader shapes and gestures of the scene. Scraping and blotting, spatter, and pressing textures into the wet paint gave me myriad textures to emulate plant growth. When the base layer was dry, I used spatter, brushwork, and more scraping to define areas. Very thin applications of paint (with roller and brush) established the sand. I liked the vague edges of rolling “sand” over “plant”, and decided to keep the lower part of the painting more suggestive, (the dunes are about shift and change). Details were developed in the middle ground, contrasting with the darker band of sea and sky above it.