The scene is a small rocky beach at Saundersfoot harbor, painted from a photo taken back in October. The day was overcast, and the scene was decidedly lacking the play of shadow and light that makes images interesting. Still, I was intrigued by the planes of the beach access ramp and railings, the dynamic lines of the sea wall, the rocky cliffs, and the lettering on the dilapidated old corrugated refreshment stand, which reads: “TEAS ICES SNACKS”.
Sadly, masking the tiny letters prior to painting wasn’t entirely successful, causing Tonia to read the sign as “Testicle Snacks”. Although I did try to beef up the legibility with a bit of Chinese white, now that she’s read the sign in her own inimitable way, I do too, every time I look at it. There’s nothing to do, really, but make it the title of the painting.
What I like about this piece are places where the watercolor went off on its own little tangents; in the cliffs, the rocky beach, and the concrete. There are two backruns in the painting (also called blossoms, blooms, cauliflowers, watermarks, backwashes or runbacks); one at the top of the brick part of the seawall, which added some much needed texture, and another at the right edge of the lowest ramp. Backruns happen when you apply a second wash before the first is dry. While technically a mistake, I kind of like the unpredictability of backruns, and I made this lower one on purpose. Once I applied the wash I could only stand back and watch what happened next. The sea washes against this ramp at high tide, and the the backrun captured the texture of the concrete ramp beautifully. I didn’t really paint that. It just happened. And this is what I love so much about watercolor.
For the record, I used my new little tube of artist’s quality ultramarine blue and, man oh man, is it ever a joy to paint with. The only way I can think to describe it is “more.” More juice. More life. It’s like the difference between fresh strawberries, and frozen ones. It’s amazing. I can’t wait to squeeze all my student quality tubes dry, so I can replace them with the good stuff.
This method of painting, laying down wash after wash, is easier to control than flinging juicy paint and pushing it around the canvas, and it made the actual process much less fraught. I took my time, and walked away a lot, and worked on the painting over a few days. It was very relaxing. That said, I don’t find the finished painting all that interesting to look at. It’s kind of flat. A dull painting of what was essentially a dull and overcast day.
I read somewhere that you have to be willing to risk ruining a good painting in order to make a great one, and I wonder if perhaps the missing ingredient in this painting is, simply, risk.
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted a video for Multi Media Monday, mostly because I’ve not come across anything that felt imperative to share. That changed this week when knitsib, Leslie, shared this week’s lovely, lovely video with me, and now I get to share it with you. Thanks, again, Leslie.