Any day at the beach…

is better than (fill in the blank). Here’s a quick sketch of the fishing pier in Avalon New Jersey. The day was windy and chilly; the surf was rough, so I made a pencil sketch of the scene while on the beach, and then washed in my impression when we got back to our shore rental. My watercolor professor in college had a mantra – “Never lose your whites”. Thanks, Mr. Grossman!

This is watercolor wash on a piece of bristol board.


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.

Fashion Show


On the beach, Olivia decided to try on her mommy’s straw hat, and it looked like a perfect fit! For this one I scanned a pencil sketch and used an old desktop printer to transfer the image onto a piece of Stonehenge paper. I stretched that and finished it with watercolors and a bit of gouache.

Full Sheet


A colleague once asked me if I ever worked on a full sheet of watercolor paper. Here is one. Most of my work is done on quarter sheet or smaller, but this subject needed something big. It’s drawn from memory, and recounts  a moment spent looking up from the beach at the immense expanse of dune and sky near Truro, Cape Cod, just before sunset. Watercolors on Arches paper.

To leave a comment, click on the post date or title and scroll down.