“Evening Surf, Bass Rocks” – 7 1/2″ x 11″, matted to 11″ x 14 for easy, low cost framing

"Evening Surf, Bass Rocks" - plein air watercolor seascape by Tony ConnerSo, my Achilles injury has had me “confined” to the studio lately. Normally,  most of my painting is done “en plein air”.  Since that hasn’t been possible for while, I’ve been revisiting some older works that didn’t quite make the grade initially.  This is one of those paintings.

The Bass Rocks area of Gloucester, Massachusetts is one of my favorite places period.  And, it’s a great place to paint.  It’s a very rugged, rocky shore line. There are rocks strewn everywhere on the beach along with towering mega-boulders. The jagged and hard-edged rocks are a great contrast to the moving ocean water and surf.

This painting began at the end of a summer evening when the sun was dropping in the sky. Raking light was catching only the highest parts of the rocks, leaving the rest in shade.  The surf was active and moving.  The breaking waves created white foam, some of which was tinged with the warm light.

In all, it was a complicated subject.  The low light created lots of variety in value and color along with the complex textures of rocky beach and moving water.

As with all subjects, especially the complex ones, I started with simple shapes and washes of color and began building color and value on top of the wet washes.  This technique helps build in the soft textures that are needed to allow visual pathways and transitions. The soft texture is especially needed around the tops of breaking waves  to simulate the look of spray.

After getting color and some value change in most areas, the light was gone and the scene lost it’s initial appeal.  I often tell my students, “If you don’t know what to do next, don’t do anything”.  In this case, I took my own advice.

So the painting was packed away, carried back to the studio and packed away in the “to do later” pile.

A couple days ago, as I perused some of my unfinished pieces, this one popped up.  In taking a fresh look, it was obvious where work needed to be done.  First, the middle foreground was really undeveloped. This was an area that needed to be used as a transition from the warm oranges on the foreground rocks into the deep neutral violets in the middle ground.  As I worked on adding marks to indicate a rock-strewn beach, I was careful to add a balance of the warm foreground colors and cool middle ground colors.  The intent was to insure that this area of the painting would be a well-integrated bridge that would guide our eye across the rocky beach and onto the dark rocks in the middle distance.

The other area of addition and adjustment was in in the near light breaking surf areas, especially on the breaking wave in the middle distance.  The adjustments here mostly involved lifting some color and value and softening some edges. A bit of warm color was added to a portion of the main wave as well.

 

This Painting Is Available

This painting is 7 1/2″ x 11″ and matted to a standard size of 11″ x 14″ for easy, low-cost framing. 

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