Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Wind Returns … with a Vengeance

“From out of the Mist”
(South from Face Rock,
Bandon Beach, Oregon Coast)
Oil Sketch on Centurion Oil Primed Linen Panel
With additional coat of Williamsburg Lead Primer
5” x 7”

The wind has returned with a vengeance, but it hasn’t cleared away the fog of morning.  I decided to hike down onto the beach and check out if there was anywhere that might be sheltered enough to set up to paint and without blowing sand grains onto the wet paint.  Luckily I had the foresight to stick my smallest sketchbook and several pencils into my pocket, for the wind was vicious.  There were one or two spots that I might have been able to work from, but the subject matter was not really good enough.  I decided to jot down a couple of compositional sketches.  It is worthwhile doing these quick drawings, as one can work for 10 or 15 minutes from positions that would be too windy to set up for an oil sketch, or in a position threatened by sneaker waves or the incoming tide.  I completed three of these small studies, and intended to do a few more, but the wind was so fierce and blowing stinging sand when I attempted to move between a small promontory and an island, that I thought better of it and retreated to the cliff-top and my truck.  I also feared that the fine blowing sand might penetrate into my camera bag to the detriment of my equipment.  I then drove a couple miles down to a small wayside park surrounded by forest enough that would allow me to work sheltered from the worst of the wind.  Here I would do an oil sketch from one of the drawings I had just completed.  I remember doing a Watercolour from a pencil sketch of waves rolling in out of the mist on a fog-bound Croyde Bay in North Devon, back in the nineties; I would now do something similar.

I had already prepared several panels with Venetian Red imprimaturas before going down below the cliffs and drawing, so I took one of these, and proceeded with the block-in using Cobalt Blue mixed with W&N Liquin so it would set up tacky fairly quickly.  My palette was Cobalt Blue, Yellow Ochre, Venetian Red and Cremnitz White.  This restricted earth palette and blue, that you have observed me using for many of these paintings, gives a low key but harmonious work since all the colours one sees in the finished piece come through the mixing of these four pigments; thus two or more pigments are in every mixture of every colour you see here, and this produces a natural harmony.  By using an imprimatura of the Venetian Red, its warmth glows through the entire work and increases the harmony as well. 

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