Mysteries from Rhode Island

My Milestone Blog entry of July 12 reported on a 4-day painting trip to Narragansett, Rhode Island, but only discussed my two favorite paintings. Two others–all featuring the rocks on a beach in Narragansett– didn’t make it onto my previous RI blog because they required some touching up, which has now been accomplished. Both were painted from a single spot, which you can confirm by reference to the stone cairn that appears in both paintings. Artistic arrangements of stones have popped up all over this cove, created by person or persons unknown. We suspect a mysterious kayaker who glided by staring at us.

For some quirky reason unrelated to the actual etymology of the word, I think of these cairns as “totems”, so I have used “Totem” as the title of the second painting. The first painting was started when fog lay heavily on the sea; by the time I started the second, the sun had reached the horizon. I may have cheated when I put in the shadow of the totem in the first painting.

Rosa Rugosa 11×14

Totem 11×14
On the last day in Rhode Island, we painted at Beavertail State Park, which boasts a lighthouse with attendant buildings, old fortifications, and terrific surf. Terrifying surf. I had been so diligent a painter in the previous three days that I had remaining only two very small canvases on which to paint. I started with the 7×5 of the lighthouse, with which I opened this blog entry. Here it is again, for your convenience.

This little painting was harder to paint well than the 11×14 Pt. Judith Lighthouse because its composition is more complex (all the extra structures) and the space into which I had to cram my composition is much smaller. Look at the weathervane–it looks so out of scale on the top of the lighthouse. I don’t carry around the tiny 00 brushes because I can’t use them anyway on plein air paintings–to get a fine line on a surface already loaded up with wet oil paint, I will normally use a palette knife. Here, instead of trying the palette knife, I drew in the weathervane with a brush far too fat for the job, and I find myself unwilling to correct it now. I can’t explain why–for some reason (composition, perhaps?), I LIKE that oversized weathervane. If I ever get to be both dead AND famous, the critics/art school teachers will point that out smugly and everyone will feel really happy that I wasn’t perfect all the time.

With an hour left before we had to start back to New Hampshire, and with the teachings of Stapleton Kearns in mind, I thought I would try to construct a breaking wave or two on the even tinier 4×6 canvas. Not up to Frederick Waugh standards, for sure, but it is my first and I only spent 30 minutes on it. I may use it as a study and paint a larger version with refinements based on lessons taken from Waugh and Kearns. It was fun to do.

Surf 4×6

Comments are closed.