|This is my art studio.|
September is my favorite time of year to paint. My kids are back at school so the afternoons are mine. The air is both cooler and clearer, making colors more intense, shadows longer. Potts Point in Harpswell is empty other than lobstermen. There are fewer biting insects too.
After checking the weather radar and the tide chart, I drive a few miles to the coast. It's quite precarious balancing a camp chair on slippery rocks. I fear I've lost a brush or two to the tide.
Watercolor, however, does a better job than photography at capturing the sea and islands. A photograph flattens the landscape and bows the horizon. Colors on a bright day become washed out. The human eye knows how to compensate. What is captured on paper is not just a shutter stop instant, but an entire afternoon. It's a dynamic experience rather than a frozen moment.
The problem is often too much movement. The wind blows. The tide rises. Watercolors like to flow too. I tape my paper to a board to keep it stable. First I pencil a loose sketch. Then I save the whites and the bright buoys with masking fluid. I wash in the sea and sponge the sky before working in the details with a drier brush and more intense pigment.
The most challenging part of autumnal paintings is keeping the reds from blending into brown with the greens. Those seasonal hues will come last of all, along with the deepening shadows. The original underpainting is only a memory.