The sparkle of light on moving water, brilliant white clouds and fresh wind was entirely invigorating in this plein air outing to Madrona Point in Nanoose Vancouver Island British Columbia. My fellow painters on this outing all responded to the white of the clouds off in the distance.
All areas in this painting that are white are the unpainted 140 lb paper. Starting with the paper positioned vertically on the easel, I mixed up large 4 inch diameter pools of French Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson and Nickel Azo Yellow. The paint needs to be the consistency of coffee cream or even thicker. I typically paint wet-in-wet washes in the first stages of a painting. Remember that when the paint is being applied to a wet surface, it will thin out, thus the reason to have fairly rich pools of paint to start with. This limited palette creates everything from brilliant chroma colour to muted neutrals. As the paint dries in the palette it becomes more concentrated and perfect for creating dark details.
Starting at the top, wet the paper with clean water using a 2 inch flat wash brush. As you move closer to the horizon switch over to a #6 Quill Brush or similar size and deliberately leave untouched areas of dry paper. While the paper is wet begin at the top again with French Ultramarine Blue and allow it to travel down the vertically held paper. Coax the paint around the cloud shapes and allow it to travel down into the water area below the islands. At the surf line do the same procedure of leaving some of the white areas unpainted.
Once dry, paint in the distant land shapes taking care to keep them on the neutral side with warm and cool temperature changes. Note the unpainted areas of shoreline and distant buildings.
The middle ground rock formations can be painted with a combination of wet on dry and wet in wet, mixing the paint right on the paper in simple connected shapes. Try making the shapes look quickly executed, no fiddling with too much detail.
The final dark value touches come with a smaller #6 Rigger brush. Avoid over-detailing rocks and grasses. Paint the essence of things. In other words, a few vertical strokes indicate grass, a little cluster of rocks here and there, nothing overdone.
Allow edges to be hard and soft or “lost and found”. This creates variety of edge. Make sure that there is a focal point. In this case our eyes travel in a zig-zag manner through the landscape to the distant dark value islands.