The ephemeral coastline, constantly changing as the tide ebbs and flows, is a complex subject for painting. The geometry of the outcrops and ledges, the whimsy of the water, call combined with the changing mood of the weather – what fun! These two studies, from warmer, then cooler, days began with a dark underpainting. When that was dry, I started to develop the medium values then the lights. Along the way, I tried to keep the feeling of vigor and roughness, for this coastline is anything but gentle. It is full of surprises – changes in coloration in the layers of stone can be quite drastic, especially the nearly black layers. This is a slippery, treacherous place.
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.
The raw power and quaking tremors that one feels when standing on the rocks can be breath taking. It travels from the feet up through the legs, sort of a deep bass vibration, especially after big storms. These three small paintings, two with the tide coming in, one with the tide going out, provide a 7×7″ version of the experience. 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……..
Still cold and stormy, but maybe these are the last winter studies for this year?
Practice, practice, practice they say…..and so I do. Working on studies of a particular subject for years does deepen one’s knowledge and response. It also offers the challenge of finding new ways to interpret the familiar. These four winter studies explore a few of the different moods of winter, with associated palettes. I look forward to the more luminous light of spring….but first there is March….enjoy!
When is a painting finished? I was cleaning up in the studio recently, and found a stash of studies, some that (were) finished and some just started months or even years ago. Seeing them now, with more experience, I knew I could develop them further. I present the results. Moody Atlantic waves and skies, reinterpreted with a palette knife and more viscous paint. No longer studies, but small finished paintings.
I guess a painting is permanently finished when I no longer have access to it, when I can’t change or add anything. Until then, if it’s in the studio, it may continue to change and improve as I learn more about painting. Or sometimes it’s the painting that tells me what to do – if I listen.