Monday, October 19, 2015

Rocks Along Ocean St

Rocks Along Ocean St - Phase One
The day after a storm moves away is typically a great day to paint at the ocean.   On this painting day, the wave action was impressive, yet the winds had died down and the morning sun was sparkling from the horizon line to the shore.   Along Ocean Street in Brant Rock, Massachusetts I discovered a nice low concrete platform to work from.   The air was charged with moist energy from the pounding of the surf.   As if plein air painting on a beautiful day was not relaxing enough, the waves had settled into a loud eight second rhythm that was downright therapeutic.

Rocks Along Ocean St - Phase Two
Although the rocks look complex, they were painted loosely, probably not very accurate, except that the further rock were small and the closer rocks were larger and redder.
Two important tips in painting rocks like these:   Restate the cracks after completing the painting first pass.   These darks go a long way in setting off the earthy tones and the shaded foam of the sea water.   Make the foam dark enough, deep blue even.   Although wave spray can be quite light and bright, the floating ocean foam is never white.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

More Rock Formations

More Rock Formations - In Progress
Rock Formations and More Crashing Surf
This is the first of two paintings done on a beautiful day in October.   I was painting out with a group of five other New England plein air painters.  The rock formations we saw at Beavertail Light in Jamestown, RI were comprised of layers of shale and coal that are common in the Narragansett Bay area.   I liked the rugged look of the rocky layers that had been worn down from the pounding surf.  The tidal pools were helpful painting elements because they could be situated to enhance the painting design.  In this painting I think they helped create a stronger abstract design quality.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Rock Formations with Crashing Surf

Rock Formations with Crashing Surf
Today's paint-out took place approximately 77 miles from home, at the southernmost tip of Jamestown, Rhode Island.   This green space is surrounded by impressive rock formations which protect Beavertail Light, the third oldest lighthouse in the United States.   The rugged rock formations and high surf were spectacular, and reminded me of the Pacific shoreline, complete with a distinctly turquoise tint.  I was meeting more plein air painters; in total there were six of us.   We all agreed that, although it was a long ride, it was well worth it.   And as I have said on more than one occasion, plein air is as much about the experienced place and time as it is about coming out with a (great?) painting.

What a spot!  The access road encircles the lighthouse and is situated above the rugged and complex cliffs.   Openings in the guardrail permitted access to the tops of the rocky cliffs and a very active surf thirty feet below.   The eastern morning sun was causing a tremendous glare just to the left of the canvas.   The 9x12 viewfinder was clipped to the right, so fortunately I wasn't looking directly into the brightness.    It definitely was a tough day for my eyes.   I did wear sunglasses throughout most of rock sketching.   When it was time for true color matching I was forced to remove them.   The painting shown was the second painting of the day; it's closer to finished than the first.   I'll show painting number one once I get a chance to view it in the studio.

Click on the link for a short snippet of the panoramic view.  The land mass in the distance is Newport, Rhode Island.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Workshop Studies

Cataumet Cove
This week I was one of the lucky painters who participated in a workshop with contemporary realist painter Joseph McGurl.     The workshop was information rich - covering everything from composition to paint application to framing and even today's challenging art market.   If you are ever given the chance to participate, jump at it!

Seagull on Boulder

Despite the - almost - constant mist and rain, we got four painting studies done using some of the techniques, tips and strategies that this amazing artist uses.    It is always a bit unnerving to try new methods (custom view finder, acrylic underpainting, atmospheric glazes), but in the spirit of breaking out of our comfort zones, Joe challenged us to do just that.     He circled through the group offering assistance several times during each painting session, keeping us moving along on our paintings - what was working and what aspects needed attention.
Cataumet PO 02534
My favorite part of the workshop were the demonstrations. I was absolutely mesmerized during both the plein air and studio work.   I remember sitting at one point staring at his illuminated canvas and thinking how fortunate I was and that it was a gift to be able to see this painting in-progress (soon to be on display in New York for international audiences to appreciate.)   His approach and methodology are uniquely his own.   I don't think it was shared so that they would be precisely emulated, but rather to be considered within our own signature styles.  New tools for the toolbox.

Misty Garden Cherub
I've included my four painting sketches, Marsh Cove in Cataumet, Big Boulder, Cataumet PO 02534, Misty Garden Cherub.  All four need work, but here are the post paint-out versions.