Steve asked me to do either a seascape or lake scene, so I chose a seascape. Recently, I have been doing a series of vertical water paintings, so picked a seascape to start for the scene. As usual with these demos, there is not enough time to do a finished painting, but I tried to finish off certain portions to demonstrate various techniques in painting seascapes.
It was a small, but lively group, and seemed like questions were coming once a minute as I tried to paint. Steve is quite the art historian, and kept things lively with his historical quips.
Milford Sound, a fiord in Southwest New Zealand, has been called by some the eighth wonder of the World. The spectacular area of Fiordland National Park is unparralleled in the world. The remarkable glacial carved natural environment features spectacular tumbling waterfalls, glistening stunning fiords, ice-carved valleys with rivers, ancient rainforests, shimmering lakes, soaring walls of granite, and snow-capped peaks. The Maori native culture called this area “Te Wahipounamu”, or “place of the greenstone”, and is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I visited Milford Sound on a cruise ship in February 2013. We had been sailing in and out of the fiords of Fiordland National Park all day, including Doubtful and Dusky Sound, but Milford was the icing on the cake. For those who have visited Yosemite Valley, it was akin to sailing a cruise ship right into the valley. With spectacular glacier carved sheer rock faces of almost 4000 feet on either side which lead to mountain peaks of almost 5000 feet high! It had been a fairly cloudy and gloomy day, but the cloud cover was high enough to see the mountain peaks all around. Occasionally, a spot of sun would hit, as depicted in the painting.
One of my favorite spots on a cruise ship is on the promenade deck right at the stern above the wake of the ship. Here you can hear the churning of the propellers in the water as it splashes and bubbles producing wonderful colors of aqua, greens, grays, and blues.
Here’s a few pictures of the painting in development. Click on each photo to see the complete larger version —
Here’s a few pictures from the day, plus a few of Princess cruise ships in Milford Sound from the internet. Click on each photo to see the complete larger version —
Some of the photos above I used as studies to make the painting which is a composite of several pictures. Probably one of the more unusual paintings I have done, I have often thought about doing some cruise ship wake and other studio paintings from the decks. I have plenty of material to work from and done occasional plein air pieces from the deck of the ships, as we are avid cruisers…perhaps a new series?
The roar of the churning surf,
the crash of the waves against the hardened rocks,
the gurgling of the wave as it dies on the shore,
the crackling bubbles as the wave ebbs,
the gusts of salty wind,
the keow of a soaring gull,
the misty spray in your face is…
Standing by the Pacific Ocean, or for that matter any ocean, just before, right during, or just after a storm is akin to looking God in the eye.
This scene, my sixth in the “vertical water” series, could be almost anywhere in the world, but is along Sunset Drive on the Monterey Peninsula, California, during winter when the storms churn up the Pacific waters. Historically, the area was one of the first settled on the west coast, and Monterey was the first capital of California. The area, including nearby Carmel-by-the-Sea (Where I usually participate in the annual plein air festival), is a mecca and center for artists and writers, going back a century or two.
Here’s a few pictures of the painting in development. Click on each photo to see a larger version —
When I was getting close to finished, I realized the painting looked too ‘busy’, so took out some of the splashes and flattened the water a bit. I also darkened and grayed the water as it was too light.
I keep coming up with lots of new ideas for vertical water paintings, so stay tuned! You can subscribe to this weblog by entering your email on the sidebar.
Oh, one last thing. I was on a Harley ride when I took the photos I used as studies for this painting. Here is my bike, along with my riding buddy Pete’s bike by the surf.
The waves come crashing in, pounding the narrow walls, rushing in and out creating thunderous sound. With sea spray in your face, there is nothing like standing on a bluff over the thrashing waves…especially in Big Sur, California!
Nothing like momentum! First it was Kako-no-ike in Japan, then twice in the high Sierra Nevada Mountains with the Mighty Tuolumne. and Tenaya Lake; and now the California coast. This is the fourth ‘vertical water’ painting recently done, and now becoming a series. This narrow inlet is along the California Coast in Garrapata State Park. Just south of Carmel, and close to Big Sur, it is my favorite place to paint along the coast. I usually do one or two paintings there for the Carmel Art Festival each year.
I painted this more alla prima (all at once), which didn’t take as long as the last two water paintings. Those last two, I let dry several times so I could glaze over the water. Below are a few snapshots of the progression. Click on each photo to see a larger version. Email subscribers may have to click on the above title to see them.
and here is the actual scene…
I ran out of this size vertical canvas(12×24), so just bought three more. I still have a number of ideas for more vertical water paintings…stay tuned!
Most of you know I paint frequently en plein air, that is outdoors on location. All great landscape painters paint from life, at least occasionally, because you just can’t get true results by just using photos. Photographs skew the values, that is the relative darkness or lightness of a color, making shadows too dark and sunlit areas frequently too light. They can also modify the color to varying degrees. Most good artists can tell when a painting is done strictly from photographs.
I don’t often translate or re-paint a studio work directly from a plein air work, but on occasion do just that. Below are a few examples.
The first is of an inlet in Lake Tahoe, on the NE part of the lake close to Incline Village, Nevada.
Here is the plein air piece–
The second example is of Santorini, Greece. As the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history, the Greek island of Santorini is one of the most spectacular in the world. Many scholars believe the eruption spawned the legend of Atlantis. Fira and other towns cling to the cliff overlooking the sea-drowned caldera left behind.
I visited there on a cruise in 2006, and did several studies overlooking Fira and the multicolored cliffs soaring a thousand feet above the caldera. What a spectacular view and setting!
Below are pictures of the scene, my small plein air study in acrylic, and a large studio painting in oil I did later. I made very few changes from the original study to the studio piece…it wasn’t necessary to improve on the scene!
If you are a landscape artist, be sure to actually visit and paint the landscape in real time!
I was invited to paint a demo for the San Leandro Art Association last night. I do these association demos about once a year or so. San Leandro is a suburban community on the east shore of San Francisco Bay. It’s home to many corporate businesses such as JanSport, The North Face, and to all you chocolate aficionados, Ghirardelli!
San Leandro is normally about an hours drive from my house, but in late afternoon traffic, took over 90 minutes in stop and go traffic. I went a little early, so-as to get a bit of dinner before the meeting. Luke’s Grill jumped out at me as I love Greek and Mediterranean food, so tried it out. I wasn’t disappointed!
The meeting was attended by about 30 members, and went well. I had about 90 minutes to work on a 12×24 seascape, but really only had about an hour of paint time. The group was lively, fun, and full of questions. I was having so much fun, I forgot about pictures until the evening was almost over, but below are a few pictures towards the end of the session — (Note, click on each picture to view a larger version. Email subscribers may not see all pictures, and can click on the title to see online.)
Here is a photo of the painting where I left it, which is probably only a third done. I’ll try to finish it in the next few days, and post the results back here.
Has it really be a year since I have posted to this blog? Well…gulp…yes. I post most of my new paintings and other activities to Facebook these days, so this blog has been neglected, however, I just changed the blog to a new look, and I’ll resolve to post more here from now on!
Yesterday I took a trip to Half Moon Bay, California, to meet an old friend for lunch, and also spend the day painting. I got a late start, but after a little over an hour drive got to my painting location at Venice Beach (not the Los Angeles version, but the Half Moon Bay version) around 11:30 am. I only had about an hour to start a painting before my lunch engagement with Stephen, a friend I have known since college days.
I painted a view of Pillar Point across Half Moon Bay. This view is where Frenchman’s Creek empties into Half Moon Bay, on the Pacific Ocean. In the distance is Pillar Point where the Pillar Point Air Force Station is located. You can barely make out one of the radar domes on the bluff. The Pillar Point AFS is the northernmost instrumentation site of the Western Missile Range, which has multiple radar instruments for various tracking purposes.
The Mavericks surfing location is off the tip of the point where some of the biggest waves in the world are located and the site of the famous Mavericks surfing competition.
After lunch at MiraMar Beach Restaurant, I headed back to finish the painting. Since about the only way to get home through Silicon Valley would be in terrible traffic from about 4:00-7:00pm, I either had to leave at three or wait until 6:30. I finished the painting of Pillar Point around 3:30, so decided to stay until the sun went down around 6:40. So, I moseyed down the coast checking places to paint, napped a bit, and ended up close to the Ritz-Carlton hotel which sits on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. By then, there wasn’t enough time to do another painting, so watched the sun dip below the Pacific, then headed home…and there was still lots of traffic!
Here’s a few pictures from the day (Click on the thumbnails for larger pictures)…
Once again I participated in the Carmel Art Festival and this was my tenth year to be in the show. During the competition, medical artists have two days to paint and present at least two finished and framed paintings for auction. The festival coordinators stamp the back of the canvas to ensure all work is done in the two days allotted.
I already posted these on Facebook, but for those who are not on social media, here are a few pictures from the show. Click on a thumbnail to view a larger picture–
I ended up doing three paintings–
Thanks for stopping in! In a few weeks it will be the Los Gatos Art Festival!
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The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.
Although some have attributed this quote to Mark Twain, he probably didn’t say it. Anyone who has lived in San Francisco or visited during the summer agree with that old saying.
Much of the coldness can be attributed to the fog which rolls in almost daily during the summer months along much of the coastline of California. The frequency of fog is due to a particular combination of factors peculiar to the region. San Francisco is bordered on three sides by water. Morning sun heats the ground further inland with temperatures reaching into the 90’s and 100’s. The hot inland air rises and the heavier cold ocean air rushes in to replace it. This flow from the high to the low pressure zone pulls the marine layer through the Golden Gate passage and into the bay. The marine layer is basically a layer of fog which hangs out in the Pacific Ocean.
I painted 49 by the Docktown Marina in Redwood City. Docktown consists of about 60 floating houses which are not quite houseboats and not quite houses, but they do float on the water. Lately the marina’s longevity has come under a cloud and it’s days may be numbered as Redwood City would really like to get rid of it. Redwood City used to have three waterfront communities where people lived aboard their boats or in floating homes, and Docktown is the last that remains.
Docktown sits at the mouth of Redwood Creek, a 9.5-mile-long stream which starts in the Santa Cruz mountains, and flows through the towns of Woodside and Redwood City before discharging into San Francisco Bay.
Signs of Silicon Valley are all around. Lowlands are being converted to houses and condos, with high tech companies popping up all over. Oracle, the worlds second largest software company, is just down the road. Oracle software is used to store much of the information on the Internet.
Click on a thumbnail to open up a larger picture***
Although it was quite overcast when I got to Docktown, the fog and clouds quickly dissipated. I have been wanting to include more wildlife in some of these works, so painted a white heron which was scouting nearby. The sun was just starting to peek through the fog.