Friday, May 24, 2013

Wave Study #54 And #55

I have stepped up and publicly put an end date for my first 100 wave studies. I have until the end of August. I will be going on to another 100 marine studies after that. The marine studies will not only be of waves but rocks, beaches, seaweed, sea-life, birds. All things relating to the sea.
The sea gets deeper under my skin with every painting and study I paint. There is so much to learn!
The weather has been stormy. I didn't get out yesterday. The rain and wind was just a bit too much beyond the capabilities of my gear. I spent the day studying painting and seascapes. It was a lovely way to spend the day. I did get out on the beach for an hour to watch and observe. It was raining and blowing but watching is doable.
Today the storms are marching north. There are great thunderhead clouds and squalls on the horizon but they are traveling northwest and I stayed warm and dry while painting. I did two one-hour-plus (10-20 minutes) wave studies. I could have spent an hour just painting the magnificent clouds! As it was, I rather hastily got them in and worked on the waves.
Here is wave study #54
©2013 R.L. Delight, Wave Study #54, 6"x8", oil on canvas.
And Wave Study #55:
© 2013 R.L. Delight, Wave Study #55, 6"x8", oil on canvas
I decided to push myself to paint one hour or so wave studies. My goal is to be able to get enough information to paint a larger and more detailed painting in the studio. These wave studies really don't have much detail. The detail will come from many hours spent in observation, past, present, and future. I do not necessarily want to make larger copies of my plein air studies, although I have made a few, but use them as a starting point for my own compositions.
I am trying a slightly different approach to how I proceed through the wave painting process. I am also trying different color combinations in my color mixing process. In addition I am working on different brush handling techniques too. Still so much to learn!
This weekend I will be doing some much needed catching up on the domestic front. Have a good and safe Memorial Day weekend. I will also be honoring those who have served our country past and present.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wave Study #53: At Storm's End

© 2013 R.L. Delight, Wave Study #53, 6"x8", oil on canvas
Yesterday a storm came through bringing wind, rain, and a dramatic drop in the snow level in the Coastal Range to the east of us. I actually tried to get out to paint yesterday thinking that I could slip in before it hit too hard. Unfortunately, it had gathered a pretty good steam by Tuesday morning. I spent time studying the waves but did not paint as the wind and rain were blowing directly in my eyes.
I spent yesterday afternoon studying and went out again this morning. This time I got some painting in, although I was hit by several squalls. I got a bit wet. That isn't really a problem as I was dressed for it but when it gets too wet, it starts to interfere with the paint sticking to the canvas. I waited out the worst of the squalls and got this much painted. I would have liked to have painted a bit more and been able to add more of the foam detail but the rain picked up again as I neared the end so I called it good.
I tried a few new things but mainly focused on the foam of the breaker waves. I am trying to get a better value range and a better sense of the shape of the wave foam while still maintaining the subtlety of the waves on a gray day. The wave foam has a distinctive series of shapes. I can see them but getting them on the canvas is another thing altogether. I will keep working on it.
I love it when the weather is wild. It is challenging to be out on the beach in those conditions but the rewards are great. The waves were stunning which is a bit hard to tell from the painting. I have to simplify things quite a bit to make the studies. Perhaps one day soon I will do a painting the puts a lot more of the action in. There was also a couple of resident Bald Eagles feeding on the beach. The storm tossed up some good things for the critters who dine by the sea.
This afternoon I will be studying to help me push to the next level. We shall see what the weather brings tomorrow.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Wave Study #52: Refining the Focus

©2013 R.L. Delight, Wave Study #52, 6"x8", oil on canvas
I am continuing to build my skills at wave making with the remaining half of the first 100 wave studies. However, I have decided to add a bit more of a focus which I touched on in the previous post. I am diving back into my books and videos...again, to see what more I can learn from them as I progress. Every time I do that I learn something new as I become ready for the next step. It keeps it fun and interesting.
I decided that, since I never know what exactly I will find when I head to the beach, I would make a basic list of various aspects to focus on and see what presents itself that day. Today was a beautiful sunny day. There wasn't much wind when I arrived and I optimistically even put up the umbrella. About half way through the wind came up and shifted around to an onshore breeze. I had to take the umbrella down. I had a good deal of the painting on my canvas by then so I also turned my easel about 90 degrees to face into the sun. I would either turn to look at the sea or look over my shoulder. It worked fairly well!

Today I decided to strive for two aspects to focus on. I wanted to work on the foam of the breaker wave as I also mentioned in the last post. I also wanted to work a bit on keeping the darks translucent or transparent. White paint, being opaque, clouds the transparency of the paints that are transparent. With that in mind I used a different approach than what I had been using to paint the waves in.

The results are not quite what I wanted but it will be worth pursuing as I can see what I was aiming for. I had a hard time getting the reflective light on the water blue enough. I think it was because I was being too conservative. Next time I need to push a little more. The waves were pretty dark green, although that changed as it got closer to noon, with the reflective light reflecting the blue of the sky.
The darks in my waves are fairly close to the correct value of what I was seeing but the color temperature is a bit off. The waves themselves were fairly opaque as the sun was at a low angle from behind me. Later in the day the sun moves behind them and they become translucent in spots.

I didn't do much detail at all on the scud line and the sand. I just got the general idea in. I gave the most attention to the breaker wave. I still need to push the dark values deeper so that the light values can pop just a bit more. I haven't used pure white anywhere in this painting. It is always fun to see how many colors you need to cram into the whites to get them to look right. If I was to paint this in the studio I would mix and lay out a string of values for the darks and lights in the wave foam. I never have time to do that out on the beach as the conditions change so fast.

With such a lovely sunny and mild day today, it is easy to get lulled into thinking that we would be in for a spell of nice weather. Unfortunately, weather in the Pacific Northwest is notoriously fickle. We have a storm coming in (arriving as I write this) and the temperature will drop by 20 degrees overall with the snow line plummeting several thousand feet. Warnings have been posted for the coastal mountains and we will probably get hail. We will see if I make it out to the beach tomorrow to paint.
As I wrap this post up, my thoughts are with the folks who have been hit with the latest tornadoes and storms. Even though I do not watch TV, sad news always travels fast.
Take care everyone,

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wave Study #51- Roiled

© 2013 R.L. Delight, Wave Study#51
Well, this one did not exactly come out as I would have liked it to. Part of the reason was that I was trying a few new and different things. The waves were quite lovely and roiling today. There was at least three times more wave action as what is in the painting. The light was very weird. It wasn't sunny but there were bits of blue in the distance and  a front was moving through. The light on the water was a strange sickly color.
I painted this late in the afternoon and the water was highly reflective. I believe I used too much white. Actually I didn't start out with too much white but the painting was looking more impressionistic than I liked so I smeared and smoothed it out before going back in on top of it.
I admire many paintings and painters that use an impressionistic style but it isn't the way I want to paint.
As with every study and painting I do, I learn. Sometimes I learn what not to do! I thought about tossing this painting out of my wave study count but decided that it was worth keeping as a study. If I was going for a finished plein air painting with this one, I probably would have wiped it off.
This was a one hour study. I was painting later in the day because the tide was coming in. With the days staying light later I can catch a late incoming tide more often.
The weather continues to be a bit unsettled but feels like it is becoming a bit more solid for lack of a better word. The beach changes daily and today there was large piles of kelp from further out to sea. It felt good to be out and painting again!

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Visit to the Seattle Art Museum

This weekend we packed our overnight bags and Twill and drove up north of Seattle to go to a friend's retirement party and visit with dear friends. We drove up Saturday, visited, and then left early Sunday so that I could spend an hour and a half at the Seattle Art Museum's Exhibit of Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London. 
 The highlight of the exhibit was the self portrait of Rembrandt in his later years. I bought my ticket online where you had to specify a time slot as well. I chose 10:00 am. My wonderful mate agreed to drop me off in front of the museum and take Twill to a park while I saw the exhibit!
I arrived at the museum five minutes before the doors opened. Since I already had my ticket, I was able to go right up to the exhibit without delay. I chose to forgo the audio tour mechanism. I didn't want to be hindered in my mission to just study the paintings and drawings. As the first group of us filed in, everyone went to the first painting in the first room and held up their listening devices. I went directly to the self-portrait of Rembrandt and stood in front of it completely by myself for ten minutes. Well, almost completely, there was a young woman museum guard standing a few feet beside the painting. I greeted her and then studied the painting:
Self-Portrait with Two Circles, Rembrandt 1665-9, oil on canvas 45"x37". Photo courtesy of the Seattle Art Museum.
Of course, photos never do a painting justice. It was large but certainly not the largest portrait in the exhibition. There was also a collection of Rembrandt etchings in a side wing. Wow! These were jaw dropping and I enjoyed studying them in relative privacy as well. After studying the painting and etchings for a good chunk of time I looped back through the first room where they had several paintings by Dutch Masters and this one painting by English painter J.M.W. Turner:
A Coast Scene with Fishermen Hauling a Boat Ashore, J.M.W. Turner 1803-4, oil on canvas, 36"x48"
Of course I studied this one a bit too. I have to admit, I am not a huge admire of Turner. That is not to say that I think his work is bad, it just doesn't appeal to me as much as others do. I will reserve my judgement on whether or not waves do what they are doing in the painting until I get myself to England and see for myself. I did learn a bit as always from studying it. I would have liked a bit more time.
I am also not a fan of Gainsbourough and a few the other English painters that were included. All of them were worth looking at and studying though. It is always interesting to see how other artists approach paintings, specially the old masters.
One of the many things I noted while looking at the Exhibit was that many of the paintings on canvas were cracked or crazed. There was also a few paintings on wood panels and they were smooth and vibrant looking. I have been painting on linen canvas lately with the larger painting I am working on and this weekend pretty much put the final twist on a decision to paint mostly on panels. I like the smoothness and the vibrancy the one can get.
After spending an hour in the special exhibit, I went down to a couple of the other floors in search of representational paintings in the permanent collections. Sure enough I found a few other paintings that I have been wanting to see in person. There were a few by Frederic Church that I particularly admired on display as well as Cleveland Rockwell and Albert Bierstadt. There was no one around and no guards standing next to them either. They were spectacular and even though photos don't do them justice, here are pictures of what I got to see:
A Country Home, Frederic E. Church, 1854, oil on canvas, 32"x51",
Horseshoe Falls, Frederic E. Church, 1857, oil on paper mounted on canvas, 11 1/2"x35 5/8"
I love Frederic Church's paintings and have mentioned them in past posts. What a treat to see them in person. I would love to see them again.
Smokey Sunrise Astoria Harbor, Cleveland Rockwell, 1882, oil on canvas, 20"x34",
Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast, Albert Bierstadt, 1870, oil on canvas, 52 1/2"x82",
The two above are paintings of the area in which I live. The top painting by Cleveland Rockwell is exquisite and is another piece I could spend more time in front of. The bottom painting is stupendous! It is larger than I am and quite dramatic. I studied the waves, the lighting, the brushwork, the detail. I really didn't have enough time and the next time I am going through Seattle I will spend time at the permanent collection gallery where these hang. Hmm, reading back through this post it is apparent the small amount of time I had was not enough!
I am not saying I want my paintings to look like these but I do want them to have the same effect on people that these had on me. 

I was grateful I got to take a little time out of a very busy weekend to see this exhibit and paintings. What a treat! Of course I would like to go back and look again at the last few paintings. We got back late Sunday afternoon and grabbed a quick bite of dinner before heading to band practice.
I am feeling a bit hammered today from lack of sleep and too much visiting with people. It takes a lot out of this introvert to spend that much time interacting with people, even friends (the dear friends who put us up for the night are an exception!) I spent the day catching up and tomorrow am keeping my fingers crossed that I can get out and paint. I NEED it!
That is my report on my little field trip to the museum. Will be posting paintings next time!

Here is a bonus shot of Twill at a rest stop one hour from home:
Dismal Nitch and yes, it was living up to its name, cold and very windy!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Perils of a Sunny Day

© 2013 R.L. Delight, Wave Studies 21-50 minus 2
First up, here is a collage of wave studies 21 through 50. I did leave out two studies that give me the shudders to look at. I usually will post the good, bad, and the ugly but they were posted in earlier posts so I chose to leave them out. The paintings are a little distorted. I had challenges with the program and then I couldn't find some of my wave studies in my iphoto files but here it is, more or less.
I have had a few challenges getting to the beach too. Last weekend we had sunny weather and it got to over 80 degrees! In May! We ditched our chores and sat and read in the sunshine and overdosed on vitamin D. We went down to the beach to view the sunset Saturday evening. It was beautiful and warm. What I didn't know until it was too late was that the unseasonable warmth hatched a vicious little no-seeum that is about the size of a small freckle. Suddenly I realized I was being brutally bitten! My arms, legs, and feet were bare and are now covered with many many itchy achy welts.
I tried to go painting on the beach Monday morning but I had forgotten the panel holder to my new setup. I decided to sketch until I realized I was adding to my collection of itchy bites.
I fled the beach and have vowed not to return until the nasty little creatures have died off.The weather has cooled again so I will try again on Monday. In the meantime, I have been working on the large painting in my studio. It still isn't to a point to show the work in progress yet.

I have a few more odds and ends to add this post as well. This Labor Day weekend at the end of summer will mark the end of my fourth year of art studies. If I was able to continue learning with the wonderful teachers I started out with, I would be finished at that time. Not much will be changing, my studies will continue and I will continue to grow into my art. I have decided that after Labor Day, I will not always show the bad and the ugly. I might talk about it, but I am going to be a bit more selective on what images I post.
It would have been wonderful to have been able to move to Maui with the school, however, I also feel not continuing has forced me to grow in another direction. It might have taken me much longer to find my passion for painting the sea. I guess what I am trying to say is that I am at peace with the unexpected twist in my art education.

Finally, the next set of wave studies are going to focus on breakers. More specifically on the foam of the wave. I decided to do several studies on the breakers and then on the foam tracings. I will paint them until I feel I am ready to move on. They might not be terribly exciting to look at but I will be posting them.
 This summer I will also be expanding my view to the many state parks that surround us (lucky us!). I will be painting more studies like the last one at Ecola State Park. I would like to do that once a week or once every two weeks.
I will leave you all with this carrot to dangle, If all goes as planned, I will have a wonderful excursion to post about on Monday. It is going to be a very busy weekend!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Ecola State Park and Sunshine

Ecola State Park
We have sunshine! We also have mid to upper 70 degree weather! I melt in anything over 75 so it is quite warm for me. We went to Ecola State Park yesterday. Unfortunately the sunshine brings the strong winds. I spent about an hour trying to find a sheltered spot to paint on Indian Beach. Alas, the wind was blowing me and the sand around. It felt a bit like being in a sandblaster. I never even took my painting pack off. We decided to call it off and head home. On the way out of the park I spotted another road and we turned off to explore. I was determined to find a sheltered spot to paint. I found the spot above which is more sheltered from the wind. It was getting late so we decided to go back this morning. We packed up a lunch and Twill and drove up the coast. Cannon Beach is about 14 miles or so from our town.
I got set up and got to work.
Ecola State Park, Cannon Beach Oregon
Here I am painting with my brand new Coulter Plein air set up. Today was the first time I used it and I have to say, I really like it. It is lightweight and easy to pack as well as super easy to set up.
Twill insists on staying close by me. There was shade a few feet away under the trees but she made herself comfy in the shade from my easel. She had a big bowl of water to drink as it was quite warm. There was a bit of a breeze which kept me from getting too hot.
I decided to paint a larger study. I have been painting very small for several months now and I thought it would be good to mix it up a bit and paint larger. I am still pretty new to the whole plein air thing and have yet to take a class or workshop. I must admit, after today, I think it would be nice to take a workshop. I won't be able to do that this year but maybe next.
Here is the finished study. I would like to paint a studio painting from it and post it on the Paint the Parks website.
© 2013 R.L. Delight, Ecola State Park study, 11"x14", oil on gessobord.
I haven't painted in the sunshine much, maybe three or four times so I am not used to the effects of sunlight. I had the umbrella on my easel as the sun was pretty bright. The colors of the rocks were not quite right. Also I put the trees in the foreground very quickly as I wanted to focus on the water and the rocks.
It is a start and I will improve little by little. I will be painting more like the above this summer as the waves tend to be quite small and the sea fairly calm. I hope to get down the coast in July.
We are supposed to hit 80 degrees this weekend. That is very hot for us. I know others would find that temperature a relief! I will be getting the chores done and everything set for another week of painting.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Paintings and Park Pass

© 2013 R.L. Delight, Neahkahnie Magic, 6"x8", oil on panel
I love painting the sea. The weather has been a bit chaotic with wind and sunshine. It has been a challenge to get out to paint the next wave study. I have a total of a wonderful 50 wave studies which is a nice chunk but still quite a ways to go. I enjoy looking at them and seeing the gradual progress which can be hard to see in the day to day painting process. "Neahkahnie Magic" is one of my favorite paintings from my 30 in 30 challenge. I used a wave study to make a formal painting. It is still available here!

I believe I mentioned that one of the items I requested for my birthday a couple of weeks ago was a year round State Park pass. They are good until the end of the month on the year they expire so it pays to wait until the first of the month to buy one. You get a month free! Since yesterday was the first of May and we went to get a pass. My mate made it a two year pass!
I modified the hang tag a bit in Photoshop and then modified it for real too. I am so excited! This afternoon we will be celebrating by packing up Twill with her new ramp and heading to Ecola State Park on the north end of Cannon Beach. I will have pictures to share soon and hopefully a painting.
So with that, off to paint!
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