Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Emphasis on the Focal Point

Emphasizing the focal point is all about contrast.  While most of the perimeter of the painting is cool, soft and light valued, the area around the diners and the umbrellas is warm, hard-edged and darker in value. The bright, pure colors of the umbrellas, the sign and the flag stand out against the minimal details and subdued colors in the background. 

Notice, too, that the waiter, the flag, and the sign are all on the thirds, both vertically and horizontally.

I later had a sandwich under the middle umprella, and am happy to report that the re-opening of The Center Cafe is a success!

Monday, July 30, 2012

When Color Is King

Sorry I've been away.  Between the rain and company, I let the painting time get away from me.  This morning, however, was beautiful:  sunny, 75 degrees, slight sea breeze out at Hendrick's Head Lighthouse.

Because I've done this subject so many times, I keep looking for ways to re-invent the scene.  Using arbitrary colors seems to be the solution to so many of my painting problems these days. 

Wetting the paper before sailing in with some pure colors and letting them blend on the page makes me happy!  Then it's just a matter of "finding" the rocks, adding some waves and adding some details to the lighthouse.

Color is the attraction even more so than the actual scene!

Sunday, July 22, 2012


To create a sense of distance, It is helpful to paint "forward".  Start with the underwash ( in this case the sky and the water), move closer with a suggestion of other boats in the harbor (it is not necessary or even desirable to sharply define these objects), and then get the darks and warms going in the two foreground boats.  Their masts overlap the other boats and the far shoreline. That's why it's best to leave the distance undetailed; details and texture out there would confuse the viewer after the foreground details are added.  The building on the left is also kept in silhouette and very simple, but a bit darker and overlapping in such a way as to come forward, as well as stop the eye from going off the page.

It might help to see a photo of the scene to see how much simplification I employed to keep the attention in the foreground.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Green, Green, It's Green They Say..

The overwhelming amount of green in summer landscapes requires that we think about how to handle so much of the same color. Here are some suggestions:

1.  Use values to describe the different planes of green.  Dark greens in the foreground, mid-tone greens in the middle ground and lighter greens in the background.

2. Use color temperature to distinguish between foreground, middle ground and distance.
    Light cool greens in the background, neutral greens in the middle ground, and warm dark greens in   the foreground.

3. Or, in the case of this rendition of pines along the coast, use arbitrary colors to avoid the problem of greens altogether. 

In "Ocean Island Beach,"  I tried to employ all three ideas.  But my biggest concern was not to let the color green so completely overwhelm the painting by repeating the same green color in all planes.  Repetition and dominance are one thing;  boredom resulting from no contrasting relief colors is quite another.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

From This To That

From sketch, to drawing, to final painting.  From value plan to first wash, midtones and final dark accents.
The process matters.  Going to the details and the darks too quickly will skip that very important middle step.  Think it through like a game of chess.  Know what you're going to do three steps down the road before you do the first wash.  And hit the midtones darker than you think they should be.  Here is Nubble Light House.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Workshop Opportunity

This is The Eastwind, one of many local vessels which sails from Boothbay Harbor several times a day.
Schooners are  one of the sites you can expect to see if you decide to come to Maine for my September workshop.  There are also The Maine Botanical Garden, The Railway Village, five lighthouses, a busy harbor with many lobster boats, and a quaint shopping district.

My workshop is September 10th - 14th.  This year we will be concentrating on painting prodedures as well as color choices. 

For further information, please email me at    caroljessen@yahoo.com        You can also visit my blogsite
caroljessen.blogspot.com    or   my website   caroljessen.webs.com 

I look forward to sharing this beautiful region and its coastline with you!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Plein Air Painting

Painting on location poses many challenges.  Wednesdays here in Boothbay, the Plein Air Painters of Maine paint together.  This morning I reported for painting at about 8:30.  My scene was really devoid of anything to excite me, but luckily, yesterday I saw  a canoeist  who was coming in from a paddling adventure, and I determined he might come in handy for a future painting.

Sometimes, you have to draw upon memory to incorporate elements that aren't present when you actually begin to paint.  This requires either a good sketch or a good memory.  This was the case this morning.

Keep your eyes and your memories open so that when needed, you can draw upon those images  to include in your paintings.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Don't Give Up Too Early

This is my summertime neighborhood.  We all have our crosses....

At the beginning of this painting I was convinced it was going to be a stinker.  But I've learned not to quit too early when the going gets tough.  What else do you have to do anyway? 

My friend Judi Wagner used to say, "Stay lighter longer."  That gives you plenty of time to decide where the darks should go.  And I am one of those painters who works the whole page at the same time.  That way you get a feel for the balance as well as a chance to link the darks. 

What a great summer day!

Friday, July 6, 2012


Although I've been doing this blog for well over two years,  this is a milestone...my 365th entry!  What better way to mark the occasion than with a wild and colorful, free-spirited painting. 

The big bold wash was the first key.  I used two washes wet-into-wet, granulated, that gave the painting unity.  Around the lighthouse I used some cooler colors to give relief to the predominance of warm colors in the rest of the painting.  Figures give scale and life.  I'm including the first wash to show that you really need to be bold with that first wash.  "If it looks right when it's wet,"  John Pike wrote, "it's wrong."

Sunday, July 1, 2012


When painting trees, it's important to remember that trunks and limbs are cylindrical.  That means you leave a highlight on them just as you would on a vase. 

Also, some branches are lighter in value than others in shade.  If you paint all branches the same value and the same color, the result will be unsatisfactory.  Study which branches are light and which are nearly black silhouettes.  Also decide which branches are warm and which are cool.  Variety and contrast make for interest. 

Here are two of my favorite trees out on Ocean Point.