Yellow Beach Umbrella, Green Pup Tent

It is interesting how memories work? You won’t think of something for a long time, and then something will trigger a flood, as if unlocking a secret closet you forgot about. This little, green, sand tent was such a key for me.

My oldest son had a little sand tent as a very young child, his was red and blue. We did not limit its use to the beach and sunny days, we used it at friends houses and hotel rooms, anywhere we wanted to create a little cocoon of familiarity for him. As I painted this little tent I watched its occupant climb in and out, and I started to laugh. My kids came and sat by the easel wanting to see what was so funny. Puzzled they asked me why I was laughing. The tent I was seeing was red and blue…

I remembered one time we were at my parents house. Noah was a toddler, and he was tucked into his tent ready to sleep. I heard him crying and hollering “MOM!”. I checked on him and found everything with him to be in order, so I re-kissed his head and left. Minutes later the outbursts from the tent started up again. This time I found out what was invoking his cries. My parents big, orange cat had made a game of climbing on various pieces of furniture and launching himself at the tent, the tent would bend a bit and then the cat would fly off in various directions. The cat seemed to enjoy being catapulted off the tent. Noah, inside, was literally under attack, from his perspective there was a huge hairy monster clawing and dropping from the sky. I laughed that day too.

One of the things I have most enjoyed from sharing my paintings with the world, is hearing the stories they invoke. If that happens to you, I hope that after you dust off the cobwebs (or beach sand) you will share them with me.

Dark Sky, Dark Day

The sky and scene were so blue
so I stained the canvas with a warm tangerine. It was nice to be working on a complimentary color ground. Not much of the under painting ended up showing, but I love the tiny bits of unexpected color where it did, especially since it is such a dark and moody scene. Here is a detail:


Sunset- group effort

10×8 oil and sand on linen panel
Plein air
My girls wanted to ride the icy, rough waves with their big brothers, painting the sunset with me was the consolation prize. They loved mixing paint, and did so with gusto. If only I could get my adult students to use so much paint, or make such bold confident brushstrokes.


Beautiful Grey

Winter Beach

A space usually full of colour and vitality now lies fallow.
It’s desolate here; the wind is fierce and the sand is hard.
A grim picture of grey awaits wanton wanderers.
No families dance here now,
their laughter has been drowned by the waves.
There’s a solemn beauty about the deserted shore,
like an abandoned fairground,
always graciously hoping for another chance to entertain.
But that’s the paradox of the beach in winter.
Its annual renaissance is never far away and
its sober silence sits astride a confidence of more glory forthcoming.
Vibrancy will return to the sands and so too will the laughter.

-Robert Siney

Sunset in a Cup

10″x8″ oil on panel
These little sunset paintings remind me of Emily Dickinson’s line:
“Bring me the sunset in a cup”
I love how they are portable reminders of something so vast.

Wave Watchers

I started with an acrylic under painting in 2 values. I scraped ochre, and violet thinly on with a palette knife, leaving the white canvas to make a third value. Then I mixed some big puddles of paint, and painted fast, waiting for the figures way down on the beach to get into position. I captured them with a few strokes each, cleaning up my mess using the negative space around them.


27 min sunset

I quickly spread a warm, orange-rose underpainting where I saw all the warms. I used acrylic and a palette knife, and was playing with the shape and design of the composition. I wished, as I was painting the sunset, I would have covered the whole canvas, or perhaps put a different color under the non-warm section because I love the way thick paint skips over the heavy textured canvas, and the white skips left something to be desired.