Finding a Creative Solution for a Difficult Painting Problem

An oil painting of the Magnolia Bluffs done with a pink/green palette

Low Tide. 10 x 17.5, oil on linen panel. 2017.

One of the biggest problems I've found with paintings of the shore is that it can be difficult to make them look interesting. There is a tendency (except in very specific light conditions) for everything to look flat. This headland in Magnolia is one of those scenes, an especially challenging one as it's a south-looking view and almost always against the light. To compound the problem, the headland is basically a monotone - dull green in summer and dull brown in winter.

I tried to find a solution by building this painting on an abstract idea involving color: a red/green color scheme to break up the color monotony and value variation in the background and foreground to introduce the illusion of light.

Using a coarse linen allowed the paint to be applied thickly with a palette knife throughout. This helped me to establish lots of texture in the foreground and middleground with very little effort. The headland was left lacking in specificity to add a feeling of mystery.


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