I have set a goal for this year, to paint 30 or 40 larger paintings of clouds and/or waves. Both intrigue me and call to me, two forms of the same matter, constantly in motion, both capable of transporting such massive energy, or such tranquility and peace. I plan to exhibit this body of work early next year. As I work on this project, I will publish progress reports and photos of paintings or parts of paintings, and I might share my thinking, but some of my work I will save for first viewing at the exhibit. In the meantime, I will continue to practice plein air painting and life drawing. Below is a palette knife acrylic painting Foggy Surf, 12″ x 36″, which I painted during my shift at the Foster Gallery in Ruskin Place Artists Colony in Seaside, and an oil painting Storm Tide produced in my studio, 36″ x 24″. Click on images for more information.
Mother, the folk who live up in the clouds call out to me- “We play from the time we wake till the day ends. We play with the golden dawn, we play with the silver moon.” I ask, “But how am I to get up to you ?” They answer, “Come to the edge of the earth, lift up your hands to the sky, and you will be taken up into the clouds.” “My mother is waiting for me at home, “I say, “How can I leave her and come?” Then they smile and float away. But I know a nicer game than that, mother. I shall be the cloud and you the moon. I shall cover you with both my hands, and our house-top will be the blue sky. The folk who live in the waves call out to me- “We sing from morning till night; on and on we travel and know not where we pass.” I ask, “But how am I to join you?” They tell me, “Come to the edge of the shore and stand with your eyes tight shut, and you will be carried out upon the waves.” I say, “My mother always wants me at home in the everything- how can I leave her and go?” They smile, dance and pass by. But I know a better game than that. I will be the waves and you will be a strange shore. I shall roll on and on and on, and break upon your lap with laughter. And no one in the world will know where we both are.
Dr. Steven Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, rates the best beaches in the world every year, using 50 criteria. Grayton Beach, Florida, has been Number One at least once and in the top ten several times. That would be no surprise to anyone who has seen this beach. The reflective white quartz sand consists of small grains with a texture as smooth as sugar, so fine that it crunches and squeaks underfoot like very cold snow. Under the blue sea of the Gulf of Mexico, the white sand bottom reflects turquoise, punctuated by an emerald streak where the sand bar offshore rises to within 10′ of the surface. On days like last Wednesday, you would never know that those same waters could house the fury of a hurricane, like the one last month that destroyed most of Panama City, Mexico Beach, and Port St. Joe, the destruction starting a mere 20 miles east of Grayton Beach. Continue reading Plein Air on the World’s Most Beautiful Beach
Painting a sunset, during a sunset, would be very difficult because the light changes so fast. But the subject begs to be captured on canvas. Since the weather was chilly this weekend, and it was warm and cozy inside my studio, I decided to take a few stabs at it using photographs I have on my camera phone. Photo references are not ideal for making a painting, because the camera does not catch everything the eye can see, and the camera certainly does not capture the sound of the waves, the warmth of the evening sun, the changing patterns of the waves, and the shifting latticework of shadows and light. So I rely mostly on my sensory memories of the experience, some going right to the core of my own being, reflecting whatever might have been challenging me that day, whether work-issues, relationships, or even the existential questions of existence itself.
I have painted many a sky using watercolor, where the happy accidents often end up being exactly the right shape, color, and mood. Oil painting is so much more deliberate, that I found myself questioning whatever made me think I could be a painter. Plein air painting has allowed me to develop a much looser, impressionistic style, so I expected more immediate success with my sunset skies. It took more time than I thought it would. I can see that I need to practice more, if the sky is to be the subject and the focus of the painting.
The most elementary and powerful form of defining shapes is through silhouette, which sunsets encourage. My first attempt does not have any foreground shapes other than the beach itself, and I think the next two are much more interesting because of the silhouettes of the figures in the middle ground of the second one and the sea oats in the last one.