This was an interesting day at Crystal Cove, there was a heavy downpour of a storm brewing off the coast in the morning hours. I had taken a 6am walk before it really poured, I was rained on a little by 8am and I loved the feeling of being caught in it. Normally any artist is not going to pack up their gear and say I am going to paint on the beach when a storm is clearly coming in. But I was staying there overnight a few days and was already to paint, just hoping for some sun. I stayed in my cottage with big windows facing the sea and watched the deluge of rain coming down for awhile. I almost gave up when I saw a patch of blue sky over Catalina Island, I became excited and started to set up my easel on the deck overlooking the shore. I looked to the north, that is what I usually paint because there are sixteen cottages in a decayed, unrestored state that are so full of character, then I looked to the south. I kept seeing how the rain had dampened the roof tile on the back of this cottage 12, it is a tall white cottage still in need of repair with some boarded up windows. Someone patched the back end of the house with that tar and gravel roof shingles. It became a dark red and green when wet. I loved those colors! The rain dampened the wood on the windows, it really made a sharp contrast to the white siding and the blonde sand. The reef rocks in the distance were also very dark and the white water with blue sky reflections on the sea wash was so beautiful. All the colors of everything were clean and pure, the sky was clearing with the storm clouds floating away to the south and becoming like cotton candy balls in a row. The air was crisp, cold and clean, no one wanted to come out yet. It was blowing some pretty strong wind gusts. It all had a peaceful, abandoned, yet pure freshness to it. Summer was well over, all the beach goers were gone and I felt this was my domain for a few moments. Within minutes people began to come out of their cottages and the restaurant to take a stroll. Not many did, so I left this painting without the human element, just the nature elements.
Why did I paint this particular piece? I felt the white house made a simple statement of a cottage situated against a bluff on the sandy coastline facing the blue ocean waters and vast sky. All of it appeared so open with the forever views, a strong structure that stood the test of time and still faces the elements after 70+ years, still waiting for more summers ahead. I thought about this place in it`s earlier days, how the man who built it wanted it strong, how he dreamed of a life on the beach for his family and friends. Life was simple back in the pre-war times. That state of mind seems to still exist here in Crystal Cove. So, the painting process was applied with that in mind, I thought I should convey the strength of the cottage, but the simplicity of a beach with it`s large bed of sand casting a warm glow of the sun. The cool blue-green ocean waters with soft waves rolling ashore as it goes deeper and darker blue. The band of clouds meet the horizon in a soft line, almost merged. The distant bluff with smaller beach cottage gives a sense of perspective and leads you to the tidepool reefs that also meet the sea. I wanted everything to tie together and lead the eye around the painting with connected shapes created with colors you can identify with and be soothed by. For what I was feeling (dreaming this was my beach cottage and shoreline) and what moved me (the atmosphere and colors in the cove after a storm) is placed in this painting, that is a combination not always easy to do. An artist has to think about the technical putting together besides the emotional portrayal. This was a great experience to paint. What I can paint in several hours took years of learning, practicing and refining. It is cumulative and with each painting, it gets better. Except for those that I scrape off and start all over again the next day!
For the rest of this day I battled the strong wind gusts while painting, I had to tie my umbrella down in four places. When that didn`t work anymore I held it down with one hand as I painted. The sun was so strong that I needed the umbrella to keep the canvas from sun glare, hence painting in colors that looked light at the time but when you take it indoors out of the light, it will be too dark of colors and values. I also needed it to keep me from getting sunburned. I was almost done and such strong gusts were coming at me, I decided to call it a day and did the finishing touches in the cottage. The painting was 95% done, so all in all I was very happy to be able to convey what I saw and how it felt to be there. Besides it was getting to be around 40 degrees with the wind chill factor and I wanted to feel warm again. I watched the sun set from the deck and it seemed like a perfect day for an artist.
See the images in a chronical order below:
Painting is being worked out in the oil sketch, drawing.
Painting is coming along after building up the focal area, the cottage against the bluff.
Painting is looking almost done, the light has changed, it is time to go inside and finish in the cottage dining area.
Completed painting, 16x12, oil on linen panel.
A lovely after storm sunset over Catalina Island.
Later that night from the same spot on the deck overlooking night time fishing boats on a starry filled sky, but very cold in the forties.
It was a good time for a short while until I checked out the next day and returned back to reality.