I’ve been having a lot of fun painting islands and seascapes this summer. It’s a tough subject because it can change so quickly, but it’s also fun to try to capture the different ways weather and light effect the water. A little wind can change the color of the water dramatically. Clouds will make everything grey, but very colorful greys with tints of green, pink blue…
One of the joys to painting on site is studying the way nature works, and trying to puzzle out why there might be a certain blue stripe in the water, or a pink tint in the sky, or how glare on the water changes color from one place to another. To study the scene as a painter I am looking for shapes and colors. My natural curiosity can take over. All I need is the visual information to describe the scene in paint, but I also like puzzling out how the world works.
I love painting on site and trying to capture fleeting moments. It’s great to sit in nature and study how things change throughout the day. As much as I enjoy this, it’s still a struggle every time I start a new painting. People often come up to me and say, “Hey, looks like you’re having fun!” Sometimes I am, but often I’m just buried in a maze of questions about what colors I really see, how I should mix those colors, Is my brushwork too clunky, where are the weak parts of this painting, is this painting a lost cause, did I spend enough time planning a strong composition? The list goes on and on. In my best moments I can get lost in the act of seeing and translating into paint. When someone mentions how much fun I’m having I just smile and nod, but I’m tempted to tell them how confusing and frustrating it is to paint, how hard the work is.
The painting above is 20×36,” and is a perfect example of a painting that had me second guessing every choice. The sky clouded up once I started painting and the water went steely grey. But once in a while a little sun would peak through on the horizon and glare would shimmer through. When I packed up I wasn’t sure if this one was successful, but seeing it the next day I was very happy. And after a few more days I realized it’s one of my favorite paintings this summer. This painting is at Dowling Walsh Gallery in Rockland, ME.