Painting the Pacific Coast
Why Did I Paint This Watercolour?
I have been honoured to receive a third invitation to exhibit at Gallery ExaART in Osaka Japan. I was requested to paint the theme of Canadian landscapes, seascapes and flora and fauna.
This is meaningful to me since I have spent my lifetime on the Pacific coastline of British Columbia Canada and travelled the breadth of the Pacific to the shorelines of Japan many times. The Japanese Canadian fishing fleet here in Canada has enriched our own lives, as they were the first bunch of fishing pals that taught my husband how to fish our commercial fish boat. Both nations share the riches of this vast body of water in similar unified yet uniquely different ways. Both cultures have a seafaring side to them. You can read more about my own personal experiences at sea where I am featured in the best selling book “Beckoned By The Sea” by Sylvia Taylor. Sylvia investigates the myriad ways in which women have contributed to the marine industries that sustain the people and shape the culture of North America’s west coast—and reveals how the sea itself has touched the lives of these women by giving them not just a livelihood but an infinite source of inspiration and personal fulfillment. The familiarity of both coastlines and cultures fuses into one experience for me … I forget where I am for a moment and all I really see is dramatic light, cozy little harbours and fish boats and above all the drama of sky and water.
How Did I Paint This Watercolour?
With a limited palette of French Ultramarine Blue, Permanent Rose and New Gamboge Yellow, I was able to produce transparent glowing colour that offered everything from bright hues to muted neutrals. My main goal was to paint the brilliance of cloud and sky as the sun set.
The First Watercolour Wash
Wetting the sky area first with clean water, I purposefully left dry untouched areas where I intended clouds to be. Working quickly before the clean water dried I flooded in fairly weak mixtures of French Ultramarine Blue and a warm mixture of Permanent Rose and New Gamboge Yellow. The consistency of paint was like 2% milk, not too rich. Notice the edges of the clouds. Some are soft, some are hard. This is an important design strategy – keeping variety throughout the painting.
The 2nd Watercolour Wash
After the sky was dry I used the same procedure with the distant land shapes. I purposefully linked the distant background, middle ground and foreground shapes, flooding in the pure primary red, yellow and blue and letting them mix on the paper. When mixing pure hues on the paper it seems bold and overly brilliant at first, however as you let the colors intermingle on the paper they begin to “neutralize” or grey down. If any colors are too bold they can simply be lifted out while wet or even when they are dry later. Note that the distant boat and dock shapes are all linked together into one neutral shape. Linkage is powerful and helps the painting flow together instead of becoming disjointed.
Finishing Touches in Watercolour
Sky, land and water are all the big shapes. Once they are established with a large 2 inch brush, out comes the smaller tools: 1 inch flats, a #6 or so quill and large rigger brushes. The darker shapes of rocks and details in the foreground are painted in drybrush. The same large pools of pigment that I used in the first washes have begun to evaporate in the palette, yielding the darks that I need to work in the details. Note the texture in the foreground – this was wet water spattered into barely dry paint.
There is a good balance of hard and soft edges in this painting with soft edges being the dominant of the two. Vertical strokes in the water evoke the essence of reflective water and are a powerful design element.