Archway in the Sea, Part 1

Heres another painting, I started on Monday. This one is also based on a photo I took a Crystal Cove, and also on a 16″x20″ canvas.

As before, the painting was started on a canvas toned with a mix of burnt umber and ultramarine, applied with a rag. This canvas wasn’t toned quite as darkly, so I was able to do most of the under drawing with a dark color instead. I started the under drawing with cadmium yellow deep, just roughly sketching things in. Next I did a more refined drawing on top, using a mix of ultramarine and burnt umber. When doing the under drawing, the paint is always thinned with medium (mix of paint thinner and linseed oil). I also roughly glazed the same dark color over the shadow areas, and then drew some detail back into the shadow areas using less thinned down paint. Ultramarine with a touch of cobalt teal was glazed over the water, and a sky was roughly brushed in.

The next day, I roughly went back over the whole painting. The sky and water were roughly brushed over again, but these areas are only sketchily put in at this point and will be mostly painted over, so I’m just going to focus on the rocks. At this stage the rocks are painted in using almost entirely just Naples yellow, burnt umber, and ultramarine mixtures. Some Cadmium yellow deep is mixed into certain areas to increase the warmness of the color.

The painting technique is fairly similar to that described in previous posts, using a wet into wet technique, starting by roughly scumbling an area with a base color. So for example, on the large rocky structure in the center of the canvas, in the light areas I started by roughly covering the whole area with a sort of beige color. Subtle tonal shifts could be painted on top of the wet paint, and the colors could blend more easily this way. The shadow part of the same structure was covered with a mix of ultramarine and burnt umber, and then the lighter areas of the shadow were applied on top by mixing a little Naples yellow into the mixture. I tend to use slightly thinner paint in the shadow area at this stage, but the paint is still fairly dry. I mostly dip my paint once into the medium before mixing a color, then brush the excess medium off onto the palette, and then put that slightly wet brush into the paint before applying it to the canvas. To me, this is enough medium.

The rocks covering the right side of the canvas were first covered in a grayish color, and the lighter, tanner colors were brushed on top. The gray is made by just adding a bit of Naples yellow to the dark mixture of ultramarine and burnt umber.

I waited until today to apply some glazed over the painting. The canvas needs to be absolutely dry before glazes can be put on top. A glaze is just a thin transparent layer of paint applied on top of the painting. Since the painting is still wet, there is some glare in the photo, so the colors are a bit off here.

Doing the glazes can help build up an interesting surface, especially if they are applied over thicker paint, because the thinned down glaze will pool inside the grooves of the brushstrokes of the previous layer. The areas were more paint pools become darker, and in this way, a more interesting surface can be built up. Alternating layer of thick scumbled painting and glazing can create some interesting textures which is what I’m after.

The glazes were approached in a pretty similar way as the previous layer. First areas were cover in a thin glaze, then thinned down paint of different colors was applied on top of the still wet glaze. When doing the glazing I like to add a little extra linseed oil to my medium, so I just pour a small amount onto my palette. Once I mix my color, I dip the brush into the medium and spread the wet brush into the color, and do this several times until the paint is thin. Then if I want, I dip my brsh into the extra linseed oil on the palette and spread the brush back into the color. I avoid using white in the glazes because it makes the paint opaque and somewhat chalky looking. Instead, a bit of Naples yellow can be added to a color to make it lighter.

This is a detail of how the glazes look up close. You can see how the scumbled areas of the previous layer help show the rough rocky surface. Since the glaze is applied thinly, some more precise details were able to be added in as well.

In this detail you can see that in some areas, the paint started to drip. This is because of the way I first covered the area in a glaze and then added details on top with thinned paint. In this case though, I think the drips just give the rocks some extra texture, although I have laid the canvas flat now until it dries.

The next thing I want to do with the painting is to go back over and add in more lights alla prima, once the canvas dries. Since the entire canvas is covered at this point, subsequent layers of paint can be applied fairly roughly, with a lot of scumbling, since I no longer need to cover the canvas, and it will also also the previous layers to show through and create more interesting textures. The water and sky also need a lot of work still. I hope you enjoyed today’s post.

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