Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas
 and a wonderful New Year filled with peace and joy.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Ecuador #2, December's Virtual Paint Out

This is my second painting for this month's trip to Ecuador. I had many sites to choose from, but I loved the old wall with the flowers and the storm clouds settling over the mountains. Rain is on the way.

Imbabura, Ecuador, 9x12 oil

This painting is available in my Ebay Store - Virtual Paint Out.

Thanks for visiting,

Saturday, December 5, 2015

December's Virtual Paint Out - Ecuador

This month our Virtual Paint Out Group is traveling to Ecuador.

First a bit of geography - 

Ecuador, a country of about 16 million people straddles the equator in north-western South America. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west, Columbia on the north and by Peru on the east and south, it has a land mass of approximately 107,000 sq miles, roughly the size of Nevada. One of the most biodiverse countries, the climate ranges from tropical and rainy at the coast, temperate and dryer in the inland mountains, to tropical rainforest in the Amazonian jungle lowlands. The central regions are mountainous with many active volcanoes. Mt. Chimborazo is the highest mountain at 20,577 ft. Evidence of the earliest inhabitants date back to 8060 BC. The Galapagos Islands, located in the Pacific, 650 miles west of the mainland, became part of Ecuador in 1832.

I am so pleased to be a member of The Virtual Paint Out Group. I look forward to each new destination and enjoy exploring and reading the history of the country and its people. Using Google Street Maps, I can “walk” the streets, safely travel the roads and back alleys and see people in their environment. This new scenery is a joy to paint.

My Kindle with reference photo and my initial lay-in.

After completing my initial lay-in, I let the painting decide the finish. I know that I have to adjust values and elements to make a painting that I feel is technically correct and one that expresses my vision of the region.
Chimborazo Region, Ecuador, 9x12, oil

This painting is available in my Ebay Store - Virtual Paint Out.

Thank you for visiting,

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Emotion of Color

I found an interesting article about color and thought I would share my notes with you.

Yellow – Airy, unsubstantial. The color of sunshine. Happy, joyful and warm, yet slightly disturbing if too intense. Often used on caution signs. Taste - sour, acidic.

Ochers and umbers
, the darker, duller yellows. Warm, rich, calming, comforting and grounding. The subdued browns of mother earth and nature. The richness of gold and honey. Taste - sweet.

Orange – A happy, luscious, stimulating color, exciting, very warm. Too much can be overstimulating. The color of fire, heat, warning signs. Taste - pleasantly lively and sharp.

Siennas, the darker, duller oranges. Earthier, solid, comforting and rich, but still having a feeling of heat. Taste - sweet, pungent, spicy.

Red – Bold, exciting, intense and forceful. The sign of danger, blood, anger and stop signs. Also the color of sex and romance. Taste - pleasantly rich and sweet.

Advertisers use the colors above to stimulate our senses, especially in the food industry.

Purple – A moody color. The color of mourning, stormy skies and royalty. Somber, aloof, yet richly beautiful. Taste - rich, semi sweet, cloying.

– Calm strength, dignity, honor, truthfulness. Solid and dependable. Uplifting. Often used by banks, the military and law enforcement. Taste - cool, clean and sharp.

– Comforting, nurturing, healing, nature's growth. Safe and grounding. The color of grass and money. Often seen in banks, hospitals, libraries and schools. Taste - clean, pleasant but slightly bitter.

Gray – A variable color. Mysterious, somber, dignified, quiet, cold. Can be gentle - fog, mist, rain. Or strong and solid - granite, marble. Taste - cold and damp.

- Purity, cool, elegant, clean, sanitary. The color of wedding gowns, religious garments, medical uniforms, snow, ice. Taste - cold, clean, refreshing.

Black - Somber, mysterious, dangerous, dignified, sophisticated, powerful. Death and mourning. Funeral attire, tuxedos and formal wear, judicial robes. Film-noir. Taste - unpleasant.

It's interesting to note how these colors and their variations are used by advertisers in designing their logos. And interesting to study our emotional and physical response to colors. Enjoy.

Thanks for visiting,

My Ebay Store

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Friday, November 6, 2015

November's Virtual Paint Out - Istanbul

This month our Virtual Paint Out Group traveled to Istanbul.

Me and My Shadow, Istanbul, 9x12, oil

Busy reference photo

This painting is available in my Ebay Store - Virtual Paint Out.

To see all my paintings from our Virtual Paint-Out tours, please click here.

Thanks for visiting.

My Ebay Store - Home 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

October Plein Air

Enjoyed a warm day last week to paint outside. This is looking across our fields toward the Camden Hills. The weather is getting a bit chilly and plein air painting is almost over for me this year. Sigh.....

October in Maine, 9x12, oil.

This painting is available in my Ebay Store under Landscapes.

Thanks for visiting,

My Ebay Store - Home

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Simple Start

To answer a request from a former student...... "Please help, I've forgotten how to start a painting!"

For me, the start of a painting is very important. If my foundation is correct, the painting will go smoothly. If my foundation is not correct, it will be a battle all the way.

My goal is not to copy exactly what I see, but to create a painting that is well balanced and conveys my feelings about the scene.

Step 1 - The Value Pattern
Step 1 - Beginning with a thin wash of a neutral color on a toned canvas, I lay in my value pattern, breaking the scene into 4 values - dark, mid-dark, mid-light and light. Checking for compositional errors, I adjust shapes, adding, subtracting or moving elements as needed to create a strong composition.

Step 2 - The Foundation Colors
Step 2 - Following my established value pattern, I thinly lay in my foundation colors as correctly as possible and set my extremes - the darkest dark, lightest light, strongest edge and most intense color. These will be my guide points. Then I set the painting aside to dry a bit before working on the finishing steps.

Wilson Stream, 6x8, oil SOLD

Finishing Steps - Respecting what I have already done and using my extremes to guide me, I apply the finishing layers with thicker paint and cleaner colors. I make minor adjustments as needed.

By working carefully and correctly at each stage, you have a good chance for a successful painting.

Thanks for visiting and happy painting,

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Philippines revisited.

My second painting for October's Virtual Paint Out - The Philippine Islands.

Sarangani, Philippines  9x12, oil

This painting is available in my Ebay Store under Virtual Paint Out.

Thank for visiting,


My Ebay Store - Home Page

October's Virtual Paint Out - The Philippine Islands

This month we are traveling to the Philippine Islands, an archipelago comprising more than 7000 islands in the western Pacific Ocean. 

Located between Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia, the Philippine Islands are located on the Pacific Ring of Fire and close to the equator making these tropical islands of mountains and rain-forests prone to earthquakes, active volcanoes and typhoons. 

The areas covered by Google Street Maps are limited, but I enjoyed reading a bit of the geography and history of the country before touring around and picking my scenes to paint. I was struck by the beauty and poverty of this region.

Image result for philippines
Sarangani, Philippines  9x12, oil SOLD

To see all my paintings from our Virtual Paint-Out tours, please click here.

Thank for visiting,

My Ebay Store - Home Page

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Almost October

Last night there was a heavy frost in the valley but not up here on the hill. Still it’s time to prepare for winter. Today I cleaned out the kitchen wood-stove and my husband went up on the roof to brush out the chimney. It’s a dirty, messy job that will be repeated a few times throughout the coming winter and spring. But we love wood heat and the comforting sounds of a crackling fire and simmering tea kettle. My husband has filled the woodshed and soon will be cutting trees for next year.

The vegetable garden is down to beets, squash, the last of the tomatoes and a few green beans. Frankly I’ll be glad to see the end of the green beans. My canning is finished, the pantry is full and the pressure canner is back in the closet until next year.

View from our garden.

Now I have to decide which houseplants come in and which ones I can live without.  

My Meyer's lemon tree will go in my husband's den for the winter. This summer it produced one lemon that my daughter-in-law made into lemon squares for us all to enjoy. This fall the tree has four lemons and we will be watching them grow all winter.

Meyer's lemon tree
New lemons this summer
Last summer's single lemon

I have always had an orange tree. My first one lived for about 20 years and the boys remember that it was their job to carry the tree outside in the spring and bring it back inside for the winter. Every year the tree was bigger and heavier - but then every year the boys were bigger and stronger. It is still a pleasant family memory that brings groans and laughter. After the tree died, they thought that was the end of it, but I bought another one in Florida and the tradition continues....

My orange tree

The days are sunny and cool, the leaves are just beginning to change. With the summer work done, we hope to spend time at camp this fall. There hasn't been much time for painting but I hope to remedy that soon. I’ll be packing my painting gear and my husband is looking forward to bird hunting. And Ginger is always looking for a new adventure.


Thanks for visiting with me.  

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. Sept. Virtual Paint-Out

Bryce Canyon is spectacular. The colors and rock formations are surreal. I usually paint two views of our Virtual Painting Trip, but this month I had to paint three.

My initial lay-in using my Kindle photo as my reference source.

Bryce Canyon, Utah 8x10, oil

This painting is available in my Ebay Store.

Thanks for visiting,

To see all my paintings from our Virtual Paint-Out tours, please click here. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Hilldale, Utah. September's Virtual Paint Out

This is day #12 of Leslie Saeta's 30/30 Challenge. I haven't painted as much as I wished because life is just too busy here in September. But I have enjoyed combining Leslie's Challenge with my Virtual Paint Out Group.  

Hilldale, Utah 9x12, oil

As you know, our Virtual Paint Out Group travels, via our computers and Google Street Maps to a different destination each month. I try to create two paintings of each new location. This month I might try for three. Utah is very interesting and I am fascinated by the rock formations. Bryce Canyon is spectacular. So we will see what happens this week.

I hope you are enjoying your September. We just finished with a very hot and humid week. Today is beautiful, with just a hint of fall in the air. The gardens are slowing down and the leaves are just beginning to turn here in Maine. Time for apple picking!

Thanks for visiting with me. This painting is available in my Ebay Store or on my website. I hope you've had a chance to check out my Store. I have over 80 items listed!

Thank you, 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Croydon, Utah - September's Virtual Paint Out

This month our Virtual Paint Out Group is traveling to Utah.

Croydon, Utah 9x12, oil

This painting is available in my Ebay Store

Thanks for visiting,

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sept 2015 30/30 Challenge Has Begun

Today is the first day of September and the first day of Leslie Saeta's newest 30/30 Challenge. Thirty paintings in thirty days is impossible for me at this time of the year. I hope to paint and post a few each week. 

I have been exploring the painting style of Tonalism. I have always loved the gentle, moody and atmospheric landscapes created by these artists. In Tonalism, rooted in the French Barbizon movement of the 1800's, "the mood and atmosphere of the scene is more important than the objects themselves. Landscapes are soft, with gentle mid range tones and values and an elegantly simple composition." I've always enjoyed painting moody and atmospheric landscapes so this is an exciting study for me.

Our Virtual Paint Out Group is traveling, via computer and Google Street Maps, to Utah this month.

This 30/30 Challenge will be a mixture of Tonalism and Utah. Maybe I will be able to combine the two.
Morning, 6x8, oil

Thanks for visiting,

My Ebay Store Link

Friday, August 28, 2015

Books and Stuff

For days now I have been cleaning and reorganizing my studio. How did I ever collect so much stuff?

The job has taken longer than it should because of the books. I have a large collection of art books that need to be reduced. I sorted them into three piles – keep, sell and maybes. It’s the maybes that have taken the most time because I have to go through them all, sometimes just flipping through pages, others are put aside to be read again.

Books have always been a very important part of my life. I grew up with a den full of books and a library within walking distance of home. Today we still have a den full of books, plus a large bookcase in my office and, of course, another large bookcase filled with art books in my studio.

The art books to be sold have been listed in my Ebay Store and only a few maybes are left to be added after I check them out.

I am also a collector of still-life stuff – old crocks, vintage copper, brass and silver items. Old figurines, vases and other vintage and worn treasures. Chips, dents and cracks only add to their character. Most are remnants of our antiquing days and trips to flea markets and thrift stores. Some are family heirlooms. These are my painting treasures and have been dusted and replaced on their shelves.

It’s so hard to get rid of anything. Maybe I just need a larger studio, or more shelves.

Here is the link to the book section of my Ebay Store  - just in case you need to add another art book to your collection.

Thanks for visiting with me,

Monday, August 10, 2015

Bees, Hornets and Plein Air Painting

When painting outside, bees and hornets are often attracted to your wet oil paint with painful results. If you get stung, relief is right at hand. I thought I would share this amazing old-time remedy with you.

Yesterday I was stung by a small hornet while painting. Ouch! I immediately found some plantain leaves, crushed them between my fingers and applied them as a poultice to the sting. In less than five minutes the burning pain was completely gone. Today there is only a small red area to remind me - no itching or tenderness.

Plantain leaves are easy to find in lawns, fields and along the sides of the road. This humble weed seems to grow everywhere, at least here in the north. The crushed leaves produce a liquid that is good for all insect bites, poison ivy and other skin rashes, minor burns and abrasions. You can also use it in combination with olive oil to make a healing lotion.

Wishing you happy painting adventures.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Colors of August

This month's painting and computer time will be taking a back seat to canning and freezing. My studio has moved to my kitchen and is full of color.


Strawberries and raspberries have been transformed into freezer jam and sauces. So many reds!

Raspberry Freezer Jam

Today I canned the bushel of Jersey peaches we ordered through our local Amish store. Maine blueberries have also been ordered and I will order a bushel of Pennsylvania peaches in a few weeks. Our vegetable garden is doing well and there are green beans to can and beets to pickle. Red tomatoes, bright green and yellow squash and more. So many colors!

Jersey Peaches before

And after

And we can't leave out the lush green fields and bright blue sunny skies. The abundance of color everywhere. The list is endless. We have so much to be thankful for.

More art news:

I was so pleased to be invited by two well-known artists to join their new art groups on Facebook. Artist Sandy Askey-Adams’ new group, Professional Fine Art Artists Gallery Group and artist Allen Bunker’s new group, Oil Paintings for Sale. Since these are “membership by invitation only,” I feel honored.

Our Virtual Paint-Out Group is visiting the Monterey Peninsula in California this month. I’ve been exploring the area via Google Street Maps and hope to paint a few scenes. I snap digital photos from my computer and transfer them to my Kindle. I can then use my Kindle in the studio.

In September, artist Leslie Saeta will host another Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days Challenge. I hope I will have enough free time to participate. Last year I was too busy with the garden produce to paint as much as I would have liked. I will try harder this year. I find that it is a great exercise in discipline to challenge myself to paint every day. We will see what happens this time.

I hope you are enjoying your colorful summer. Thank you for visiting with me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Reluctance to Study.

This morning, sitting in the car waiting for my husband, I was looking at the trees surrounding the small parking lot, thinking how I would paint them and what colors I would use. This brought to mind my early days of teaching art class and the problems we all had with painting trees.

I believe that the only way to paint a realistic tree is by direct observation and sketching the trees you see around you. I suggested to my students that it would be very helpful if they would take a few minutes a week to study the trees around their home, making sketches and noting the colors of the bark and leaves. A few minutes a week would be time well spent. Some students did as I requested. For others, “can’t find the time” was the reason given, as they continued to paint stunted trees with brown bark and sap green leaves.

All of the arts – dance, music, acting, to name a few, require many years of practice. Missteps, wrong notes, forgotten lines are all a part of the learning process. You continue to study and work at it until you improve. Why is painting any different? Direct observation of nature in all her moods is the best teacher. Painting many small studies gives you an opportunity to improve your skills. The studies that are failures are very important to your growth, showing the areas that need more attention and continued practice. Would you take your first few piano lessons and expect to play Carnage Hall? Therefore, you should accept the fact that not all your paintings will be successful, but with each failure there is opportunity for growth.

So going back to trees again, over the years I whittled down my art classes to my most serious students. The students that made the greatest progress were the students that studied, read books and had an open mind to learning. They were serious about their art.

I have been painting for many years. Do I know it all yet? No way! I continue to study, slogging my way through the myriad of art theory available in books and on the internet, picking and choosing the information that I need and the information that seems to fit my style of painting. I believe that each of us has our own innate painting style and if we are serious about our painting, that style will continue to develop. I will be a student all my days. What a fascinating journey!  

Thanks for visiting,

Friday, July 10, 2015

Exploring Old Santa Fe

Exploring Santa Fe, New Mexico with our Virtual Paint Out Group.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine, Santa Fe, New Mexico 8x10, oil
This is an interesting church dating back to 1777.  I'm glad this is a virtual paint out. It looks too hot to be painting outside for this Maine girl.

This painting is available in my Ebay Store.

Thanks for visiting with me,

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Santa Fe, NM - July's Virtual Paint Out

Traveling to Santa Fe, New Mexico with our Virtual Paint Out Group.

Two Horse Trail, Santa Fe, NM  9x12, oil SOLD

This painting was available in my Ebay Store.

To see all my paintings from our Virtual Paint-Out tours, please click here.

Thanks for visiting, Celene

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Estonia - a bit of history.

I enjoyed visiting this area and reading its history because all four of my grandparents immigrated to this country from neighboring Poland and Lithuania.

On the left, The Herman Castle in Estonia, the first known stone castle ever constructed, was built by the Danes in the 13th century. Across the Narva River stands the Russian Fortress, Ivangorod, built by Ivan III in 1492, (the same year that Columbus was sailing to the New World).

Herman Castle, Estonia & Russian Fortress, Ivangorod, 8x16, oil

Estonia has a very long and complex history, with centuries of wars, battles and foreign occupations that repeatedly changed the borders and ruling factions. Artifacts have been found dating back to 10,000 BC. Google Street Maps now show a country filled with farms and rolling grasslands, dotted with modern towns and cities, old stone buildings and magnificent churches. Bordered by water on three sides, harbors are abundant. Estonia became an independent country in 1991.

This painting is available in my Ebay Store.

And click here to see all my Virtual Tour Paintings on Ebay.

Thanks for visiting, 


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Estonia - June's Virtual Paint Out

This month our Virtual Paint Out Group is visiting Estonia - located in Northern Europe, bordered on the north by the Bay of Finland, on the east by Russia, on the south by Latvia and on the west by the Baltic Sea.

Poide, Saare County, Estonia 9x12

This painting is available in my Ebay Store.

Thanks for visiting,

Friday, June 12, 2015

June 2015 Newsletter

New Website

My new website is up and running. Many thanks to my daughter-in-law, Angel Farris, of MaineWeb Creations, for the many hours of work and her patience in teaching me how to navigate this new software. I created my original website many years ago with FrontPage, which is now obsolete. I needed to build a new website for myself and the gallery with a new software and we chose WordPress.

Unless you have created a website from scratch, you will never believe the number of hours spent and the vast assortment of new technology now available. I enjoyed the challenge of working with a new software and I sincerely thank Angel for teaching me how to utilize the new technology. I will continue to maintain and update my websites with the secure knowledge that Angel is here to help me when I get lost.

My New Ebay Store

After successfully listing some of my paintings on Ebay for a number of years, I decided to make a change and open an Ebay Store. As I photographed and inventoried my available work, I realized an Ebay Store would simplify my life and allow me to organize my paintings into categories and standardize my prices.

Using Ebay’s “Fixed Price with Best Offer” format, I again have the opportunity to interact with my customers, negotiate prices and offer options. This is reminiscent of my former art gallery in Belfast, Maine, where I could deal directly with my customers. I enjoy this personal approach and have met so many pleasant and interesting people over the years.

Ebay gives me world-wide exposure and an efficient selling format while giving my customers a safe and secure method for purchasing my work on-line.


May was a very busy month with way too many hours spent on the computer. I am glad to be back in my studio again. This month our Virtual Paint Out Group is going to Estonia. It’s fun to explore each month’s destination using Google Maps Street Views. We certainly live in an interesting and beautiful world. I will post my paintings on my Blog and in my Ebay Store.


I invite you to subscribe to my Blog. It is a two step procedure. First you enter your email address in the subscription box and hit submit. Soon you will receive an email from FeedBurner asking you to send back their code message. This will confirm your subscription request. I had a friend ask why she never received my Blog posts and the answer was that she hadn’t completed her verification step through FeedBurner. If you need assistance, please email me.

My Newsletters will be infrequent. My Blog will continue on a regular basis, featuring my latest works, comments, thoughts and answers to questions received. It’s a great way to stay in touch. I look forward to hearing from you.

Here are some links that I hope you will enjoy.  My new website

Thank you for visiting.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Storm Surf, 8x10, oil

Storm Surf, 8x10, oil

Pemaquid Point is one of my favorite places to visit after a storm.

This painting is available on my Ebay page.

Thanks for visiting,

Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic. May's Virtual Paint Out.

Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic, 9x12, oil
This month our virtual painting group traveled to an ancient city in the Czech Republic. A very interesting trip. The old city is now quite modern and a popular tourist attraction.

Thanks for visiting,

This painting is available on my Ebay page. 

To see all my paintings from our Virtual Paint-Out tours, please click here.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Is the Sky Painted First?

Another question received. “When painting landscapes, do you start with the sky and work down?”
Birch Point, 8x10, oil SOLD

Birch Point lay-in. 

My answer –
Usually, no. I like to start at the focal point and work outwards. This helps me to maintain the strength of my focal point. I gradually reduce contrasts, intensities and eliminate unnecessary details as I work away from this main area.

Leaving the sky until last also allows me to choose colors that will harmonize with the colors and mood of my landscape. I can then choose the type of sky – clear, cloudy, stormy and the time of day. For me, it makes more sense to balance the sky to the landscape instead of the reverse.

As you can see in the lay-in of the painting above, I have left the sky and the brook for the final step. I did give the distant water a hint of color (which I later adjusted) to remind me that I wanted a lake in the distance.

Your comments and questions are always welcome. I hope you will find my answers useful.

Thank you for visiting my studio,

This painting was available in my Ebay page.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Computer Issues

As much as I enjoy my computer, it is really taking up too much of my time. My current website software (Microsoft Front Page) is now obsolete and is being eliminated from many servers and I can no longer access my websites to make changes or updates. Luckily my son and daughter-in-law (Maine Web Creations) live near by and will help me set up Word Press and teach me how to work with it. But this means building three new websites, mine, the gallery's and a friend's. This weekend I am copying all the files and pictures to my computer and hopefully next week when the grandkids are back to school we will begin. So, I have sent out the following newsletter. My newsletter was really a duplication of my blog. Now one less thing to think about.

May Newsletter - Changes
In an effort to reduce my computer time, I will be phasing out my Newsletter in favor of my Blog.

I enjoy writing in my blog and find it an easier format to work with. I hope you will join me. You can sign up to automatically receive my new blog posts in your email. Click here to sign up. You can opt out at any time but I hope you will enjoy these visits to my studio.

On my blog I share my latest paintings, some with step by step illustrations, answer questions and hope to provide interesting information gathered from my years of painting and teaching. Topics have included painting gear, color mixing, compositional problems, painting theory and more. There is always something interesting to explore in art.

I have always enjoyed teaching and look on my blog as a way to meet and connect with other artists and students. I enjoy reading other artist’s blogs and share new information and viewpoints with my readers. Your comments and questions are always welcomed and that leads to more interesting discussions.

Here are two ongoing events that I share –

Leslie Saeta’s 30/30 Challenges. Offered twice a year, the concept is to paint thirty paintings in thirty days, (you can paint as many or as few as you like, there are no rules except to have fun). You are invited to share your paintings on her website.

The Virtual Paint Out.
Traveling with a group of artists from all over the world, via our computer, to a new designated location each month, we use Google Street Maps to “walk around” looking for a good spot to set up our gear and paint. You can share your finished paintings to the website and see all the paintings by this group of virtual friends.

Membership in these groups is easy and free. No commitments – just sign up and have fun. This is a fun way to meet other artists and see their work or you can just paint and not share.

I do enjoy writing in my Blog, sharing information and staying connected with my artist friends and family. I hope you will join me. My blog address is

If you wish to automatically receive my new blog posts in your email you may click here to sign up.

Thanks for visiting. I look forward to your comments and questions. Happy painting.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mother & Child, Bhutan. April's Virtual Paint Out

Mother & Child, Bhutan. oil. 9x12

My second painting for the Virtual Paint Out. Bhutan, located in the southern Himalayas is a beautiful country. Wonder where we will be painting next month?

This painting is available on my Ebay page.

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What Colors Do I Use to Paint the Ocean?

 “What colors do I use to paint the ocean?” I was asked this question and thought it would make in interesting blog post. As I mentioned before, these are my opinions after years of study and observations. Someone else might have a different explanation.

It’s not possible to give an exact color formula for painting the ocean. The colors will shift with the energy of the water – a calm sea with gentle swells, a windy day with choppy seas, a heavy storm surf, bright sunshine, cloudy skies, colorful skies and the time of day – these all influence the colors we see.

Water reflects colors that are perpendicular to its surface. Flat planes reflect the sky color, the angled planes of the waves are darker and are influenced by surrounding objects and other waves.

Aerial perspective also influences the color of the water making it appear lighter and grayer in the distance, darker and more colorful as it comes forward. But I have seen times when the ocean is darker in the distance because of cloud shadows and atmospheric conditions. When painting this reverse effect, care is needed to maintain the illusion of depth in your painting.

Waves are triangular in shape, thicker and darker at the base, growing thinner and a more translucent blue/green as they begin to crest. The foam and sea spray from the crashing waves fragment into prisms that reflect bits of sparkling light and color from the sun. There is a thickness to the foam that calls for subtle shadows and cast shadows. If the sun isn't shining, these effects are modified.

Water is both reflective and transparent. The land underneath the water influences the color of the water, especially near the shore where the water is shallow. Sandy beaches may have turquoise water in the shallows. Dark sand and rocky beaches will have darker water. Water crashing against the rocks will be changed. Your viewing perspective also influences what you see. Are you looking across the water or down into it?

Nearby objects reflect into still water. The color of these reflected objects are subdued because the water absorbs some of the energy from these reflections. And the ocean is never perfectly still, the shapes and colors of reflections waver and distort.

Avoid using intense colors, straight from the tube, or heavy dark colors. Choose a variety of muted blues, greens, grays and brown for starters. Then the reflected colors are chosen. Coloration is important. If you study nature you will see that there is a great variety of subtle grays and delicate shadings. And please, never pure white, always add a bit of color to your white. White is a color killer and always a student problem in art class. Use lighter colors or lighter analogous colors to lighten and brighten.

The ocean is very complex and always in motion. Affected by the tide and weather conditions, the sea continually changes shapes and colors. Study, direct observation and practice are necessary. You will benefit from doing many small studies. Studies that are failures are very important for understanding what works and what doesn't. 

Working from photographs can be tricky. Remember the sign in my studio that says “Photographs are 99% wrong.”  If you copy them exactly your painting will look artificial. You need to understand the nature of the sea. The best way is to spend time looking at the ocean and watching what happens as the light changes and the water moves. That is why it is so important to paint subject matter that you are familiar with – but that is another topic for another day.

Thanks for visiting with me. I hope this information was helpful. Your comments and questions are always welcome.