Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Before the Rains Came

About a month ago I was in northern RI where I sketched at the foot of this foot bridge in Esmond.  It was the early part of spring, showing only very few blossoms and buds.  The yellow buds at the other end of the bridge caught my eye, but I had no finished painting in mind.  Practice in values and what I call "spring grays" is what I sought for this exercise.

  After some rainy days -- in fact, two days ago-- I painted this sketch of a cove in Beavertail (Jamestown, RI).  Note that the canvas used was a round (12" diameter) that had been oil primed.  The cove is a favorite among people climbing over the rocks near Beavertail Light and it is also a favorite of mine to paint.  The distant horizon , a westward view, shows the coast of Narragansett.  Closer in, a fishing boat was passing by.  If I were to "finish" this plein air piece, I could add a figure at the cove -- or even a seagull.  But should I?  There is always the danger of introducing elements into a scene that might intrude into a certain mood set up by a simple design.  My fellow artists, you opinions are welcome!

 This second piece, an 11 x 14" piece was done on the same day and at the same place.  Again, the view is westward toward Narragansett.  At first I was attracted by the tidal pool in the foreground, but I am now attracted to the late afternoon lighting playing along the Narragansett coast.  The sketch is drying on my wall where it will suggest improvements, corrections -- or its own destruction.

     In the first sketch I used a palette modeled after one suggested by the British seascape painter, Borlase
Smart in his book Techniques of Seascape Painting.   Smart's palette uses just one blue -- cobalt blue --and one yellow -- naples yellow.  I did add to his palette ultramarine blue , which I think helps to recess distant areas.  (Borlase palette: naples yellow, yellow ochre, raw sienna, rose madder, viridian, cobalt blue, ivory black and flake white.)

   In the second sketch, I added (in addition to ultramarine blue) quinacridone red (instead of rose madder), cad yellow light, and cad red light.  The cad yellow light allowed me to suggest more brilliant, sunlit greens than I could achieve with the more limited palette.

  My landscape group must be worried about the rainy days ahead; then we must learn to paint rain!

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