Last week I told of my return to California after 40+ years, no longer an Air Force officer, but now a seasoned fine artist…a landscape painter. I showed some of the plein air pieces from the trip and also a studio work.
This week I want to share with you another painting, and its creative process, that was a result of that trip. It too is from the beautiful Monterey/Pacific Grove area. It’s the story behind the creation of “Sunset Over Monterey”.
The difficulty inherent in creating a painting such as this, in low light, is that it requires sensitivity and very careful attention to value and color temperature. The slightest color note out of place will quickly destroy the mood and overall harmony.
The choice of color for this painting was kept quite simple. What I was looking for was the variety of blues and violets that could be achieved. Preference always leans to the simplest of palettes. Seldom are there more than five core colors on the palette. Intermediaries are mixed from this core group, but the core is always limited.
There was minimal drawing done when laying out this piece. Only thin washes in the approximate value and color, accurately placed, were used. A brush dipped in mineral spirits was used to define the top of the walkway, and a paper towel was used to wipe out other light areas.
After the block-in the serious drawing began. For me, drawing means achieving accurate proportions and perspective throughout. That will be impossible if the first element drawn is not exactly right, and if the horizon line has not been located.
The building became the starting point, as it was a major focal point and area of highest contrast. Once that was set accurately, the rest of the painting was related to that area…while working outward in all directions.
Getting the painting to this point went smoothly. It should have been downhill from here, right? But, for various reasons, “being in the zone” decided to take flight and it was several weeks before the courage to continue this piece appeared from around the corner.
The sand and parts of the water were reworked several times before feeling satisfied. Upon completion the painting emoted a very powerful feeling of sheer calm and solitude, only interrupted by the rhythmic motion of the waves…an excellent time for contemplation, praise, and thanksgiving to the One whom created it all. Hence, the addition of a man and his dog to complete the story.
This painting is available through Southwest Gallery. Click HERE for details.