A Day at the Beach

Summer is waning in the northern hemisphere, and the kids have gone back to school, but since my husband is retired and, if I paint on location I can call this a business trip (smile), we set off for the beach.

A Day at the Beach, watercolor, 5
A Day at the Beach, watercolor, 5″ x 7″

I didn’t paint at the beach because as soon as we got there, the biting flies treated me like fast food!  Only if I stood halfway up to my knees in the water did they leave me alone.  (It was not fun!)  And since painting with watercolor means I need either a table, or an easel, to put something on the ground, or a third hand, I didn’t paint standing in the wave zone.  We both took lots of pictures and I put this scene together in my studio.

Beach Paseo

Rota, Spain has beautiful promenades along the beachfront.  All during the day, but especially in the evening, people walk, run, and bike along wide, clean, beautifully paved and landscaped paths that stretch for about a mile in either direction from the center of town.

The Beach at Rota, watercolor, 5" x 13"
The Beach at Rota, watercolor, 5″ x 13″

We were there in the beginning of spring, enjoying the warm weather and clear blue skies.  I told my husband on our next-to-last evening there that I wanted the next day to take off my shoes and socks and stick my toes in the eastern shore of the Atlantic Ocean.  However, our last day dawned cool and overcast, and as the morning progressed, a fog rolled in.  I decided to keep on my shoes and socks and dabble my toes in the water the next time we go to Rota.

Where Did that Other Bird Come From?

These paintings are watercolor on canvas.  I paint the primed canvas (linen or cotton coated with an acrylic gesso, ready for oil or acrylic paint) with an absorbent ground.  The ground looks like thick, chalky, white paint, but allows the surface to accept the watercolor pigment.

Beach Mini, watercolor on canvas, 4" x 4"
Beach Mini, watercolor on canvas, 4″ x 4″

I painted three birds into the picture.  I think the top most “bird” is actually a spot of dirt on the scanner glass.  I looked for him after I saw the scanned picture, but he had already flown away!

Pink Roses Mini, watercolor on canvas, 4" x 4"
Pink Roses Mini, watercolor on canvas, 4″ x 4″

After I am finished, I let the watercolor dry and then spray the canvas with a clear acrylic finish.  These are just the front panels.  The canvas wraps around the stretcher bars, so the sides are painted, too.  On my computer screen these are larger than life-size!

Time Out for Art: Discipline and Patience

How often do I finish a painting and then “check off the box.”  Been there and done that!  But what happens if I do it again?

Recently I posted a painting of my niece and my daughter at the beach.  My niece, Annie, wanted to see the evolution of the picture, so I have hunted up all my references.

It started out with a day at the beach with my sister and some of our children.  We were both living in Florida at the time, but in different cities,  and met at a beach about half-way between our homes.  I took many photos that day, but the image that stayed in my mind was of our daughters running into the waves.

Annie and Elizabeth, digital photo
Annie and Elizabeth, digital photo

I wanted to paint the scene, but wasn’t sure how to go about it.  (This was before I started studying with Gwen Bragg). I decided that the photo had too  much information for me, so I did a pencil drawing, which gave me shapes and values without the distraction of colors.

Annie and Elizabeth, pencil, 11" x 8.5"
Annie and Elizabeth, pencil, 11″ x 8.5″

And here is the painting:

Annie and Elizabeth (#1), watercolor, 15" x 22"
Annie and Elizabeth (#1), watercolor, 15″ x 22″

Several years later, while studying with Gwen Bragg, we had a lesson on painting waves at the beach.  We had already done a lesson on painting people, so I decided to do this picture again.  I am glad that I had the discipline and patience to revisit this picture, as the character of the waves and the sky now help to highlight the movement of the figures.

Annie and Elizabeth, watercolor, 14" x 21"
Annie and Elizabeth, watercolor, 14″ x 21″




Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefree

Annie and Elizabeth, watercolor, 14" x 21"
Annie and Elizabeth, watercolor, 14″ x 21″

My niece is visiting me and the Daily Press’ challenge for this week is “Carefree.” This is a picture that I painted of Annie and my daughter several years ago.  What could be more carefree than a childhood summer day at the beach, running through the waves with your favorite cousin and playing in the sand?


Evening Storm Approaching!

We were painting outside on Thursday evening, being careful to listen for thunder. I was captivated by this large cloud that sprang up in front of the sun, and the way the light sparkled off the edges of the cloud, contrasting with the dense, dark, shifting mass.

Storm Coming, watercolor, 8" x 6"
Storm Approaching, watercolor, 8″ x 6″

I was sitting on a dock over the water, so I managed to stay somewhat comfortable, even though the evening was warm and muggy.  We didn’t get any rain or thunder from this cloud, but I suspect that somebody else did!

Emerald Coast

Beach Days, watercolor, 5″ x 7″

I painted this watercolor of the beach in Destin, Florida while on a weekend getaway with my brother and sister.  My youngest brother has picked out the Destin area as the place where he and his wife would like to go when they get to the “empty nest” stage, not too many years from now.  He and his family recently vacationed in the area and have found reasons why he thinks all the rest of us would also like the area.  My husband’s first reaction to living in Florida again was, “Heat, humidity, and hurricanes,” all of which are checks in the “against” column. However, the weather this past weekend was temperate with some rain and lots of sun.  The water was crystal clear, and sparkled green and gold as it washed up on the white sand beaches. We spent many hours walking, wading, and picking up shells.  We found many positives, but nothing enticing enough to tear us away from the place where we currently live, at least not for several more years.


120 Paintings

“It takes 120 bad paintings to know something about painting.”  –  Larry Seiler as quoted by Jeff Mahorney in his blog

Each painting is small in format and should be completed in about an hour or less.

My goals are to improve my technique, to paint faster, and to gain experience with a variety of subjects.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Together

Annie and Elizabeth, watercolor, 14" x 21"

This watercolor painting is my daughter and my niece together at Flagler Beach, in Florida.   Elizabeth, the eldest of all the cousins on my side of the family, has always had a special relationship my sister’s daughters, of whom Annie is the youngest.  Annie (here, age 3) was thrilled to go splashing through the surf and had no fear of the waves because Elizabeth (here, age 24) was with her.

The first rendition of this scene is at my mother’s home (since these two are the eldest and youngest of her twenty-three grandchildren) and this second rendition belongs to my sister.