Here is a plein air painting I did for the San Clemente show last month (“Sea Moments” 9x12). After a request from Plein Air Magazine to do a step by step sequence of my painting process, I chose this pier and wave scene while I was competing in the competition. This painting and a feature article on me will be in the fall issue of Plein Air.
When painting the ocean, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, it’s important for me to “select” a moment in time that piques my interest the most. I always enjoy the wave mid-break—you get some of the white foam along with the water lights and shadows created by the cresting wave. Once I’ve selected a spot to paint, I sit and watch many sets roll in to determine the best layout of the wave. So, here is the sequence from start to finish:
This is the overall scene before I began, with one of the waves breaking.
My initial sketch of the scene. A rough idea of shapes and where I want to put elements.
A block in of the darkest part of the painting. Simplifying the underside of the pier.
Roughed in the top part of the pier and the small structures at the end.
Getting the correct color and value for the darkest part of the ocean and shadow of the cresting wave.
Laying in the distant water and where it peeks through the underside of the pier.
Finding the color notes in the white wash area of the wave.
More work in the foam area.
More on the foam, and adjusting the values where it goes into the slight shadow casted from the pier. Also, small color and value nuances are added into the whites.
I had left some white canvas where the foam would appear in the foreground water. I’ve painted in those lighter areas in this step. The final details in the wave foam were completed.
The sky was dropped in next, plus the beginnings of the small wave in the foreground.
The wet sand of the foreground is added. I kept the color intense to give it a feeling of closeness to the viewer.
More details were added in the small foreground wave.
Fixed the “air holes” and adjusted the edges where the sky and water peek through the pier.
Details on the top of the pier were painted in next. The light posts add a nice vertical to break up the sky. The underside of the pier subtleties were finished too.
More details in the foreground wave and wet sand. The little dark shadow areas under the wave gave it more dimension.
The last of the details were added in the water and this was the final.
The final painting and overall scene. If you wish to view this sequence in a slide show click below. Enjoy!