My goal with this painting was to capture an impression of sea verbena without relying solely on Cadmium Yellow. Those dots on the lower half of the painting proved to be the easiest part of the whole thing. I just got to poke at my canvas again and again with a small round brush. Lighter here, heavier there, and at a gentle angle when I just wanted a hint of a flower for further away. And that’s all pretty much pure tube colors: Cerulean, Cad Yellow, Purple and Light Green, mixed with a bit of white here and there.
This painting is based on photos I took at Meyer’s Beach, just north of the California/Oregon border, and about 10 miles south of the more famous Gold Beach. It wasn’t a planned stop on my road trip, but the view is truly outstanding. You won’t be surprised to hear a lot of filming happens here, mostly for commercials. The numerous “stacks” that come right up to the shore dare you to pass by without getting out to admire them up close. I had a hard time deciding which view to go with. I settled on the sea verbena because of the additional color pop that comes along with it. Let’s stop to admire before we talk painting a little more, shall we?
Underneath those round color stomps is an intricate winding of squiggles, smears and dashes in darker (and a few lighter) colors, plus some splattering of Cad Red. I wanted to create an impression of the vast under-network of vines, twigs and weeds that fed to the vibrant colors on top, without re-creating it in a painstaking way. In the end, after all, those vines and weeds were just gonna get covered up anyway. I’ve fallen very hard for secret under-paintings that wind and twist over themselves in colors cooler than what I place on top of them. It suggests a network of depth and texture, and it gives you an opportunity to go hog wild with the brush. Look at the lower half of this painting – it’s basically just squiggles topped with dots. Anyone can do it!
The sea was created with delicate horizontal strokes of color tinted with Titanium White. I originally had a shore under those three smaller rocks on the upper right, but loved the foamy feel of what I done with the water, so I went ahead and let it carry all the way across the painting. Should there be sand there? Who knows. It’s more important to please the eye than to maintain accurate geographical logic. Otherwise, you’re not a painter; you’re that draggy voice on the WAZE app.
The mountain in the background was my first attempt at broken color, and I will confess that it was only done because the mountain was too dark and boring on its own. When in doubt on how to effectively paint something, tie it color-wise to something else in your painting. Unity will take it a long way.
I used a script liner for the thin, vertical “weeds” that separate the sea from the flowers. That was a last-minute inspiration, but it proved to be an important step in creating more depth in the overall painting. And I almost took those weeds all the way across the canvas, but decided it might be more fun to let them trail off two-thirds of the way. And it was the right move. After all, nature does not believe in the left and right sides of a canvas. It’s far more realistic to let that parade of weeds have its own personal length of existence, and it’s a nice counter balance to the mountain.
I love this painting. It was a collision of careful forethought and a few blind leaps. I absolutely am so proud of myself for creating this.
By the way, I painted most of it in the bathroom… again. It’s so unromantic to admit, but I’m not here to put on pretenses. I’m here to get you over to your canvas and paint. So go make some colored dots. You’ll be thrilled to see where it takes you.