Watching Waves with a Friend

I was watching waves after a storm when I met this little friend.


Dune Quartet

Nothing happens in isolation. These small dune studies, done in preparation for larger paintings, may, instead, lead to a whole new color-field direction for my coastal work…..

Late Summer on the Dune

TM9147 Late Summer on the Dune 36×44 oil on panel

There’s such a challenge painting dunes – the grasses and vegetation, the shifting sands, the soft and muted colors later in the year. I think it’s all those in-between colors that first drew me in, and the open space. There’s also a quality of emptiness, despite the vibrant life that calls this environment home. The dunes, being un-anchored, also remind me of the transience of life. Things happen and disappear. I think on that. Details below.

TM9147 Late Summer on the Dune – detail

TM9147 Late Summer on the Dune – detail from right side showing distant sand and vegetation

TM9147 Late Summer on the Dune – detail from foreground showing use of spatter, scraping, and roller

Technical painting notes: I used many monoprint techniques on this painting, beginning with a roll-up of umber and sienna oil paints which were manipulated  to capture the broader shapes and gestures of the scene. Scraping and blotting, spatter, and pressing textures into the wet paint gave me myriad textures to emulate plant growth. When the base layer was dry, I used spatter, brushwork, and more scraping to define areas. Very thin applications of paint (with roller and brush) established the sand. I liked the vague edges of rolling “sand” over “plant”, and decided to keep the lower part of the painting more suggestive, (the dunes are about shift and change). Details were developed in the middle ground, contrasting with the darker band of sea and sky above it.


Just Like That

TM9142 Just Like That 42×48 oil on panel

Wait a minute, and it will change – we say that about the weather around here, but it’s true about many things. This view began as a sunny day, until suddenly a squall pushed its way into a dramatic punch. Then it was gone, Just Like That. The wind, with its waves and white caps, was powerful. I’m thankful I was near shelter when it came in, but oh I  loved it! Details below. Enjoy.

TM9142 Just Like That – detail from foreground

TM9142 Just Like That – detail from right side

Technical painting notes: The sky was painted with soft brushes, laying in the values first. Later, I glazed semi-transparent color over the base layer to modulate the tones and adjust color using a soft, watercolor mop brush.

As I worked on the turbulent water in the foreground, it became too exact and finicky, so I used my soft rubber roller to roll over it (while wet) to see if that would create some chaos appropriate to the whole mood of the piece. It worked. As the foreground became “scumbled” under the roller’s effect, I found I could pull out a few details and it was enough to suggest the feel of the moment without overwhelming detail. It also served to quiet the middle ground under a blue gray tone, suggesting shadow.

TM9142 Just Like That – detail with roller coming in




Beach Patterns

TM9137 Beach Patterns 30×30 oil on panel

Back and forth, up and down, sideways, everything is moving at the beach, and that is the challenge of painting it. With Beach Patterns, the crisscrossing waves caught my attention first, but the shallows and sand bars took over.  There are no straight paths, no clear directions, only the endless shifting, and that incredible white foamy lace. Detail below. Enjoy.

TM9137 Beach Patterns – detail

TM9137 Beach Patterns – detail of foam achieved with brush and soft rubber roller




Wet Morning

TM9136 Wet Morning 30×30 oil on panel

I’ve been using some 30×30″ panels to try out new techniques for my waves, and Wet Morning is definitely an experiment that surprised me. The wave is visible, along with a sand bar and frothy water caught behind it, but it’s the in-and-out-of focus aspect that sets this painting apart. Using the roller, I was able to soften edges and redistribute paint in such a way as to capture some of the sense of looking through wet eyeglasses. There’s a certain poetry to leaving some things unsaid. Except for a few adjustments when the layers were dry, I thought it best to let it be. Detail below. Enjoy.

TM9138 Wet Morning – detail from foreground showing rolled and manipulated spatters to suggest salt water foam