A Dog With A Bone

“Lonely Beach”

watercolor, 7.5″ x 22″
Click image to enlarge
Having finished my first cup of coffee at 4:45AM this morning, I was already at the easel and knew precisely what had to be done. After all, I had dreamt all night about it.
Yes, another painting of my beloved bluffs by the sea. This time it had to be a watercolor. Yesterday I painted a highly designed version of more bluffs. Before that I painted more bluffs and before that . . .etc. What it is that holds my fascination with this subject, I probably will never really know. It just does! I have been painting them for years and years . . .and not just recently . . . .my first versions were 17 years ago . . .and I have been doodling with them ever since. Maybe it is the shapes. Perhaps their directional movement. I don’t know. They just ring my bell. Can’t give ’em up. I am like a dog with a bone!
I am in the midst of preparing for open studio here at my home. The event will take place for three consecutive weekends . . . .it is a biiiiig job to get ready. This painting is part of that preparation. I am literally BUILDING a framed preview of my open studio event for the public to see. The frame will be 30″ x 30″ and will house seven matted paintings . . .six oils and one watercolor; this one. I plan to scribble on the mat a bit to draw attention and to inform. A marketing ‘trick,’ I admit. But it has to be done.

Gray Day

“Soup Stock”

oil on linen on panel, 8″ x 10″
Painting on gray days is VERY different than on sunny days. There is no shadow . . .at least discernible shadows. Then there is the insipid magnetism into the details of the rocks! EeeGads I got lost on this one. Then, out came the palette knife . . .not accustomed to using it . . . to see if I could do something with this painting.
There are some who love this painting. I guess you can’t please everyone all the time . . . . . ………especially the artist!! But, I remind myself, this is practice . . . .a means of learning . . . . . . . . ……. . . .trying new stuff . . . .and one cannot expect glorious results every time.

No Parking

“No Parking”
oil on linen on panel, 8″ x 10″

Recently, in another post comment, Ed Terpening mentioned that he used a scanner to photo his plein air pieces. This one used a scanner, too. I had to buy a fax, scanner combo for business purposes, so this is a trial. The accuracy of this image is disconcerting because one can see every thread of the canvas! And one can see how thin the paint is.

This brings up a question . . .I need help from you readers . . . .I slobber on the paint (or so it seems) only to have it later absorb into the weave of the canvas or linen. Apparently, I am not putting it on thick enough. What do you artists do to get such rich texture and paint thickness? A palette knife? I see brush marks in all of Terpening’s work, why don’t mine come up the same? Do you first seal the surface in some way? Does toning the canvas set up a seal so that the brush marks appear and the paint sits on the surface? Comment, please!

This piece was done a few weeks ago and was dry enough to put into the scanner. It is titled no parking, because of the sign in the painting. In life, there are parking places just outside the frame of the painting. This is a common scene here in Santa Cruz . . . .cliffs, ice plant, surf and sand. And, yes, this is exactly how it looks . . .colors and all! Not a baaaad place to live and paint, eh? 🙂

Every Attempt Counts!

“The Scent of Surf”
oil on linen on panel, 8″ x 10″

Here is another of the plein air adventures. Caught near sunset, the light was bouncing off the white foam of the breakers behind this tree. What a terrific thing to paint! I can see I have much to learn about how edges behave in back lit subjects . . . .learn? Heck!! I am fascinated . . . . . . . .read: obsessed! . . . .by this stuff.

One thing I have learned in years of painting in another medium is this: While every painting doesn’t show up at the end as perfect, every one counts! That is, each piece contributes to the success of subsequent paintings. It is all an accumulation of occurances, challenges, solutions, failures and successes.; Every painting matters . . .the results of that significance just doesn’t show up every single time. And THAT is the reason for painting daily: to quickly accumulate experience and to stay in the learning zone.

Some Days it Rains . . . .

oil on gessoed masonite 6″ x 8″

I have read about guys huddled on their knees in the pouring rain under a poncho holding it up to let the light in on their canvas while they paint with their free hand. That is NOT what I do when it rains!

I work in the studio . . . .or go to the office . . . but if I have planned to paint, I paint. What’s more, I have a commitment to paint daily. That is every day except Sunday.

So here is a little studio study. I have been watching intently while others paint. And I am surprised at how quickly I can see how they do what they do. A lady by the name of Karin Jurick (she is one of my links here) paint (most of the time) on black gesso on masonite. I could see it subcounsciously . . .then one night, I awoke with a realization that she paints on black . . .and the paintings look entirely different. So, never having done that before, I grabbed a little something mundane to paint, set up a spot light and painted it on black gessoed masonite. Kinda fun, doncha think? Let’s just call this painting “Eileen.” (Wait a few minutes and you’ll get it! 😉

This brings up an interesting point about painting. Choose anything! Yup! Anything for a subject. Then take the challenge to make it look interesting . . . .even extraordinary. So, here is a common ball point pen used as an advertising piece. Plucked out of a jar on my wife’s desk, it flew to the studio ready for its mission to become extraordinary. I had fun with it!

By the way, It looks wonderful in a frame!


Confining The Subject

“Surf Watch”
Oil on linen on board, 8″x 10″

Yesterday was one of those rush rush days. Ran to the painting location on a beach here, set up and had to ‘scram’ fast. There was much going on there last nite. Beach visitors, houses on the cliff, nice sunlit patterns on the cliff walls and houses. Even three guys lounging around against the cliff on the beach. It would have / could have made . . . .well, um, now that I think about it . . . . .a rather trite painting. And besides, there was too darned much to spend time on with a small canvas. I had exactly an hour of light left.

So, it was cut to the essentials and get on with it . . .without dithering. This game is about putting down what you see, trusting that it is right, then moving to the next spot of color.

Let’s see, what color is the color of sand? ? ? Gotta choose something! Better mix something. Whaddabout that shadow? What color is that? Can’t name it. Just match it and move on to the next spot of color. (Under my breath I am thanking my stars for all the studying and experimenting I have done with color and mixing!)

So, here is what came out . . . . .”Surf Watch” . . . .