“The Meeting Engagement”
(at the Arch Rock, Harris Beach, Brookings, Oregon Coast)
Oil Sketch on Centurion Oil Primed Linen Panel
With additional coat of Rublev Lead Primer
5” x 7”
It was now Monday and I had intended to get away early, but I decided to take a stroll down the Beach at Port Orford, and do some sketching in my pocket sketchbook. It was early and the day was beautiful, and the wind had not picked up any real force yet; but of course it would later. I took photographs as the view of the rocks and sea stacks changed their compositional relationships with one another, as I strolled along. I engaged a local lady walking her dog in conversation about the grey whales, the summer winds, and if there was a name for these inshore stacks and rocks. Evidently the whales had been there for several days, the wind is ubiquitous at this time of year, and no one I’ve asked has come forth with a name for the inshore cluster of sea stacks.
After completing a couple of quick drawings, and my walk, I decided to poke my nose into the local galleries; the first two were closed, the third was open, but was more of a junk shop with a few pictures scattered about; the fourth was also open and was dedicated to the work of the owner, who just happened to be Welsh, and had had his Art training in Camborne in Cornwall, during my early days in Boscastle. So of course there was another hour or so of reminiscing about the old country before I finally took my leave.
By the time I got to Brookings, I really had only time to refresh my memory about where the various shops for the resupply of my necessaries were to be found, before I headed into the mountains to find a campsite. The next day was spent in refitting and resupply, as I needed to have my tires rotated at the local Les Schwab outlet, and also my front brake pads replaced; food items were the resupply.
A day later I found the above view. It was the fog bank obscuring the distant headland that caught my attention, not as the main subject, but as a backdrop for the composition of the sea-stacks; incidentally that headland is California. The interesting wave action in the foreground was an un-expected bonus and became the real subject of the sketch. To the right and off the panel there is a narrow arch in the island, which is not conducive for painting on-site since once would have to stand where the surf is breaking to really do it justice, or work from photos. The elliptical wave coming in from the right, however, has squeezed through that arch and has now spread out, as we here observe it, as it surges into a meeting engagement with the smaller wave which has come around the island and through the rocks and stacks, thus losing power and becoming smaller by the time the two make contact. In military terms a meeting engagement takes place when two opposing forces make contact with one another, usually inadvertently, when both forces have been on the march during a fluid situation on the battlefield, and when front lines have yet to be established; the above waves seem to be having their own perpetual version of such.
Back to an imprimatura of Venetian Red, upon which the compositional block-in was drawn with a brush in Ultramarine mixed with M. Graham’s Walnut Alkyd Medium so that it would set up tacky early, hopefully by the time I worked in the sky and sea. It seems to have done so. The block-in is necessary especially in this case when after a couple of hours both the light and tide changed quite radically; fog banks also came and went later on, but the light and shadow areas had been established in the block-in, and so the sketch was easily completed.
The pigments used were Yellow Ochre, Venetian Red, Cerulean and Ultramarine Blues a minor amount of Viridian in the sea, and a minor amount of Naples Yellow Genuine from Vasari ( I had some on the palette already), which was used in the Ultramarine and Yellow Ochre mixed green in the light parts of the foliage on the left-hand sea-stack. Cremnitz White was the main white, but for the foam of the foreground waves I used a mixture of Maimeri Cararra Marble putty mixed with Titanium White. This Maimeri marble dust mixture adds texture to the colours it is mixed with and also lightens the colours without giving them that chalky look that can happen when a pigment is mixed only with white, especially with Titanium White; mixed with the Titanium White as here, its usage was specifically for the texture effects.
WARNING (about the following paragraph)! Delicate souls look away now!
As an aside, I was visited during the night by some varmint who left a calling card in the form of a berry filled turd outside my truck … I expect it was reminding me I’m visiting his territory. It didn’t seem large enough for a bear; more coyote sized, but do coyotes also eat berries? Unfortunately my book on animal scats is not with me. Evidentiary photos have been taken for later possible identification of the likely suspect. Meanwhile I’m keeping my bear spray close to hand, should the perpetrator attempt a confrontation … or a meeting engagement.