I first saw the ocean at the age of 30 when I visited Assateague Island, Virginia and felt as if I’d come home to an old friend; I also enjoyed meeting the wild ponies after having read all the books in the Misty of Chincoteague series by Marguerite Henry (and closely studying the illustrations by Wesley Dennis) and read about the island and wildlife refuge.
I conspired how to make a living so I could stay there, but instead brought my photos back and have been painting from them ever since. I have a few originals left and in this heat wave I’m thinking of a trip to the beach where the breeze blows and I can run into the water and swim whenever I want.
“Blue Waves” is the last of a series of small paintings of ocean waves, executed as I experimented with watercolor techniques and materials. I wanted to capture the constant movement and sound of the waves, and in this case I used a spattering of opaque white to render the spray as the waves broke on the beach.
Also from that visit is “Sunset on the Bay“, depicting a view from Chincoteague Island across the Chesapeake Bay toward the mainland in Virginia. That stillness, that odd pink light of a sultry evening on the bay…the beach houses along the dock looked so puny and unprotected under that huge sky above and the water below that I took several photos in the days before panoramic images were available.
Later, I brought them out and laid them side by side on my drafting table and sketched the scene onto a full sheet of watercolor paper, not knowing how much of the sky and water I’d use and leaving plenty of extra. I was just experimenting with watercolor techniques and materials and knew I wanted the clarity of the details on the beach houses to contrast with the big sky and water.
Coming a little closer to home is a painting I painted on one of the beaches on Presque Isle in Erie, “Burnished Waves”.
The deepening light of evening and sunset burnishes all it touches with gold and silver, and always encourages a time of memory and reflection for me. I had spent the day on Presque Isle in Erie, playing in the water, collecting shells and rocks, photographing the woods and water, and finally settled on one of the beaches facing west to do some painting. Rain clouds rolled in as the sun dropped toward the horizon, deepening shadows and brightening highlights as I did my best to capture the rapidly changing light, the building clouds and lapping waves which grew as the wind increased. I can still feel the sand under my bare feet, dampness in my hair and remember standing there in my bathing suit feeling so connected to the scene after the day of taking it all in.
I matted and framed this painting when I finished it in 1999, but for many years it sat in my “extra paintings” box; there was something I just wasn’t happy with at the time. But when the time came for my annual poetry reading and art show in 2011 and nothing new fit what I was feeling in my poetry, I found this in the extras box and realized that when I painted it, I just wasn’t quite ready for its message.
This painting became the signature image for my fifth and final poetry reading and art exhibit at The Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in January 2011 entitled “Burnished Light on Water”, featuring 12 new poems inspired by evening light and reflections, both physical and metaphoric, and an exhibit of paintings and photographs. My mother had been in personal care for years, was seriously ill through 2010 and passed just two days prior to when my reading was scheduled; I continued with it, including a brand-new poem dedicated to her, and knew why that painting had had to wait for me to appreciate it.
Prints of beach paintings
Evening on the Beach is another work inspired by the beach at Assateague Island painted in 2000. I was back to a study of watercoloring and wanted to capture the changing sunlight on that late summer evening and experiment with all the new colors I’d found and techniques for painting sand and grasses.
This is a signed digital canvas print of an original watercolor painting, gallery-wrapped on wooden canvas stretchers. For this painting instead of painting the sides with black or another color, I left the original rough edges of my watercolor along with the pencil marks on the print and allow that to wrap around the sides, ready to hang or frame as you choose.
The original was only 6″ x 4″, but canvas stretchers are difficult to find smaller than 8″ so I make a slightly larger print and gallery wrap it. It is printed in archival inks on primed canvas, signed by the artist and wrapped and stapled on wooden canvas stretchers.
Serenity is a signed digital canvas print of an original pastel painting, gallery-wrapped on wooden canvas stretchers. For this painting also instead of painting the sides with black or another color, I left the original rough edges of my pastel on the print and allow that to wrap around the sides, ready to hang or frame as you choose.
This sailboat drifted lazily for hours on the calm waters of Lake Arthur in Western Pennsylvania. As the August afternoon tended toward evening, the sky began to grow pink and the shadows darkened and lengthened, and the serene moment seemed to last for hours.
Painted “en plein air” as I sat on one of the beaches at the north end of the lake, watching this sailboat was one of my favorite afternoons; this painting always takes me back to that day.
This painting is 16″ wide x 6″ high printed in archival inks on primed canvas, signed by the artist and wrapped and stapled on wooden canvas stretchers.
I have many others which you can find under “Waterscapes” on my website, though they are from an era when my photographic abilities and equipment weren’t quite where they are now. I hope to track them down and offer prints some day, but for now you can find these and others in my shop on Etsy.