One year our shore vacation was a total washout. It was sunny the day we arrived, and the day we left. In between was some of the worst weather we’ve ever experienced. High winds, torrential rains; one night the ocean breached the dunes and sent a few waves into the streets. After that the bay flooded the other side of the island. There was only one thing left to do. We put on our rain gear and hit the beach anyway.
Here’s a tranquil scene from a past shore vacation. Bocce on the beach, a competitive sport played in a relaxed setting with no time limits.
This was painted from a photo I took of a very pleasant evening; the sun was setting behind us; in front, a cool ocean breeze drifted across the waves; and beverage refills were an arms’ length away.
Watercolors and gouache on Arches paper.
Outside, the season’s first snowfall is still partially covering the ground, but I thought I’d sneak in one more image of fall before the winter solstice is upon us. I tried to make this one a pure watercolor, but I ended up overworking it. So, I reached for the gouache to fix it and lost some luminosity in the process. Painting management! Will have to redo this at a future date.
A year has passed since our creepy couple performed their Danse Macabre on the beach. Somewhere, under a pale moon, they’ve reappeared for their annual night of revelry, and perhaps a bit of mischief. They’re more formal this time; it seems that they’ve made an effort to look their best for each other. A toast to true love – maybe it does last forever!
Weird watercolors and ghostly gouache on Ahhhhhrches paper.
This is an extension of my post from January 16, 2016. A stroll on the beach in cool weather is perfect exercise and a great lead up to happy hour.
This is gouache on Arches paper.
This was going to be my entry in an online painting challenge, run by James Gurney on his blog Gurney Journey, titled “Dead Vehicle Challenge”. But I cheated – the rules were that it had to be a plein air painting; mine was done in the studio from a photo, so I couldn’t submit it for the contest, but I can display it here. It’s actually my next door neighbor’s car, and it hasn’t run for quite a few years. Every year the blue tarp seems to uncover just a bit more, which accounts for the brick on the windshield.
Watercolors, goauche and watercolor pencils.
This post is actually about value as it relates to color, but is also something of an In Memoriam. Here’s a gouache painting of the cherry tree that once graced the left side of the Reading Public Museum’s main entrance, and has just recently been removed. The tree stood for generations and was a favorite subject of mine. I’ve drawn, photographed or painted it many times over the decades. This painting was made from a photo that is about 20 years old.
Color is a challenge for me, especially as it relates to value. Fortunately, I have Photoshop, and within that very powerful program is a feature that allows one to convert a color scan to black and white. So, when I’m struggling with a painting, I scan and convert it. The grayscale version will immediately show any value mistakes, and I can correct it from there.
I reached for the gouache this time. The fast, rough motion of waves battering rocks on the New Jersey coast needed a medium that is also fast and energetic to describe the action. I used quick, swirly brush strokes for the crashing water; short, blocky strokes to describe the flat, stubbornness of the rocks as they so insolently resisted the onslaught. It was a bleak, February day in Spring Lake. The medium seemed to fit the scene. This is one color – Prussian blue and white on illustration board, and is currently in my older brother’s collection.
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Our shore trip this year included the storm known as Hermine. For us, it meant two days of wind-blown rain and red-flagged beaches. The surf was thunderous, pounding the beach with fistfuls of waves that rolled in and crossed over, one on top of the next in a series of foaming, rapid-fire punches that sent concussive thudding sounds across the dunes. As we stood by the water, watching this furious display, a young lady trudged past us, carrying a surf board, her blond hair almost sideways in the wind. About a half mile up the beach, she turned right and headed straight into the maelstrom, throwing down her surf board and falling on top of it just before the first wave crashed over her head. She reappeared, then disappeared over and over, as rolling green mountains of water continually pressed her deep into the valleys between them. But she always surfaced, paddling up into the face of the next wave only seconds before disappearing under another avalanche of foam. This continued for about fifteen minutes. Then, like a prize fighter who has worn down her opponent, she emerged victorious, past the last line of breakers. There she joined two or three other kindred spirits sitting on their boards, all of them, no doubt recovering their strength for what would most likely be a fast ride back to the beach.
This is a gouache painting on Arches paper.
Here’s a jitterbugging couple on the beach, under the moonlight. A Danse Macabre of sorts, only with a bit of fun added. This is the season to beware of strange sights and sounds, especially in the dark. Boo! I used a mix of wicked watercolors and ghoulish gouache on a ghostly piece of watercolor paper.