The Gesture of the Ocean

waves at Marconi Beach, gesture study, acrylic on paper, 5x8 in.

waves at Marconi Beach, gesture study, acrylic on paper, 5x8 in.

The ocean is a perfect model for gesture studies, it moves and changes constantly. This forces you to capture its overall movement and flow and prevents you from getting caught up in the details.

This is one of about 12 studies from my sketchbook from Cape Cod.  I painted it at the water’s edge, using a wash of acrylic paint and sea water. 😀 I’d guess I spent about 30 minutes on it, beginning with an underpainting in burnt sienna to block in values and composition, and capture the gestural movement of the surf. To do this, I simply looked at the waves and took note of their movement, I kept my eye  on them more than on the paper, allowing my hand to follow what I was seeing with my eye on its own, with quick glances down to stay on track. Things I paid attention to were how the waves curved over on themselves and which parts would darken and which would be in full sunlight. Also paid attention to the patterns and flow of the foam as it approached shore, how it looks when it is coming in as well as when it is receding.

Next, I began working in color with washes and mixtures of cobalt blue, light red ochre, yellow ochre, titanium white and cadmium yellow. This is my standard limited palette, which I expanded a bit in a few of my other sketches just for experimentation. But overall, these colors work beautifully for the colors of the Cape Cod beaches.

I will be writing about each individual sketch over the next few days, if you want to see them all together they are in my Facebook album, you don’t have to be a Facebook member to view it.


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