Watching the subtle changes as a storm front comes in, and painting those changes, is a fun challenge. In the first painting, there is still a vestige of blue in the water, and a sense of overcast light. In the second painting, there is more wave action in the distance, the sky has darkened, and the mood is more ominous. Both paintings are from positions near the start of the Quoddy Head trail, where an old massif is crumbling away. It’s a very black and white place even when the sun comes out, but I love it best when the sun is in hiding. Enjoy.
A low backrest of granite from which to enjoy the cool morning – I can barely see Quoddy Head enveloped in the early fog off in the distance. Out here, it seems like nothing has changed. Details below.
No soil that I can see, but these shrubs have found a way get by in hard circumstances. The first is from Quoddy Head, the second from Bass Rocks, but both offer little but a crack in the stone for the roots to dig in – more than some people have.
Another part of the rugged coastline at Quoddy Head is this jumble of darkly volcanic rock, as seen on an overcast morning. I haven’t hiked this far very often, but oh what an incredible place! The surf pounds at the eroding cliffs and the thunderous vibrations can be felt in one’s legs. It is both primal and timeless. Enjoy!
It’s a roughed-up piece of geology, battered by winter and tides, but that’s part of what makes Quoddy Head State Park in Maine so special. The other thing that intrigues me is the color banding of red, maroon, and black, all folded and layered. In this little painting, the iron-rich reddish layer is exposed, while the broken bits of the black, volcanic layer show near the bottom. Painted on a slightly larger piece of watercolor paper, the 9×9″ painting is big enough to allow for quite a bit of detail. Enjoy.
The dark stone, wet and slippery with salt splash, is hardly a place for plein air painting, but it provides a wonderful subject to tackle and with a zoom lens on a small field camera. I shoot from a variety of positions, and try different settings, usually on different days. This provides enough information to start a painting. To finish a painting is another matter entirely. That depends on happy accidents, simplification, a basic knowledge of geology, and optimism – at least. Enjoy.
It was inevitable. Each time I start one of these “little babies” I’m transported to a place with fresh air and (sometimes) thundering surf, and I find myself wanting to do it again, and again, and again…….so I do. I learn something new every time, whether its about paint application, paint viscosity, color, layering, and especially taking chances. More to follow! Enjoy.
Everything is in transition. That is the theme behind Watching the Tide Go Out. Weather is changing; the sea has all but disappeared. Now it is possible to see what lies beneath – the sorted gravels, mud, salty vegetation, the soggy ground of clams, even the patterns left by clammers and an occasional vehicle. But along with the theme of transition, there’s also the reassurance of seeing far into the distance – wide open space and early mist lifting. A sense of anticipation. Landscape art is place. For me, it also is a way to portray an emotional attachment to the land, and to home. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: The sky is straightforward oil painting, but the lower two fifths of the painting employ every technique I know to suggest the varied conditions of a retreating sea. The base layer of dark umbers and blues was rolled on with a soft rubber brayer. Before the paint could dry, I swished mineral spirits (mixed with a bit of stand oil) across was the surface, then spritzed it with more mineral spirits, then dragged a plastic bag across the surface. I wanted a crisply streaky, dark surface with highlights. Some areas were rolled again with out paint on the roller, to distribute the layer and soften textures. The whole process was repeated several times to build up a dense and interesting layer. Finally, just before the paint set up, I used a silicone scraper to create crisp light lines in the foreground – both to evoke the vegetation and to change the size of the marks so that the foreground would feel close.