Friday, November 19, 2010

The story of my first true landscape

I love light houses. They’re so romantic. Lonely protectors of the coast. Always apart. Solitary and strong. How can anyone resist them?

Before leaving for Hawaii I had seen pictures of the Kilauea Lighthouse on Kauai. It looked so beautiful. A lighthouse surrounded by Kauaiian scenery. How could I resist?

The trip to Kilauea was fabulous in and of itself; a beautiful tour around the north end of Kauai. The overlook was stationed just outside the gates of the National Park Service site. I stood at the overlook and sketched the distant lighthouse to get a feel for it.

Kilauea Lighthouse sketch

The park itself was lovely and interesting. Here we got our first look at the Hawaiian goose, the Nene. We also saw protected seabird nests with tiny, fluffy, baby birds resting in little, circular, nesting caves along the path to the lighthouse. The lighthouse itself was undergoing renovations and we were unable to go inside, but the views from the cliff top were incredible.

How could I resist painting a landscape or two based on that beautiful spot?

“Kilauea Lighthouse Overlook, Kauai" Watercolor. 7" x 10"
Here is the first of them. As I worked out the preparatory sketches for this painting I reflected on how I had never done a landscape by itself before. Oh sure, I have painted landscape backgrounds for use in portrait or illustration pieces. But this was different. An appreciation for the place as subject by itself.  The action of painting this piece broke the ice for me in a new way. I’m now really looking forward to exploring other landscape subjects, including doing more pieces in this series.

The piece was painted in a limited palette – a tetredic square of Yellow- Green, Red-Orange, Red-Violet, Cyan. (I also used a touch of Quinacridone Gold to glaze some of the foreground foliage left side – but so little I don’t think it unbalanced the color square.) I used several shades from each color category with Yellow-Green being the dominant color. I feel this provided a harmonious mix of colors. I’m pleased by how the colors are a bit warmer and “more tropical” than they were in the photo I used as reference. They are more accurate to my memories of the place.

As a Post Script to this posting. I’ve made a few technical corrections to my 11/13/10 post “Great Workshop at Daniel Smith's.” Apologies for the slightly incorrect Polychromos product descriptions. All should be corrected now.

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