Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Beaches and Illustration Board

Sea Ribbon - a work in progress

In June, I visited my sister on Vancouver Island. Because I am an early riser, and live in a different time zone, I got up each morning, walked to a near-by cafe, picked up my morning coffee, and headed for the beach. With my camera and journal in my backpack, it was a short 8 block hike before reaching a spot that had a perfect seat - a big driftwood tree. I sat there each morning, watching the ocean, the boats floating past, and taking pictures of house finches and bald eagles. It was such a calming and relaxing experience - I wished I lived close enough to the ocean to do that every day!

I also took lots of pictures of the rocks on this beach. Vancouver Island rocks are so unusual - mostly colored blue or black and white, and many are spotted. It is so amazing just to pick up as many different types/colors of rocks as you are able! You wouldn't believe the variety!

I did pick up some baby sized rocks to bring back so that I could paint them accurately. They had to be tiny, and not many of them, as we are now restricted in how much weight each suitcase can be when flying. Several of my pictures were of this seaweed which wound its way in between the larger rocks, forming a ribbon of yellow. It was so beautiful! I knew it was a painting waiting to be done!

The above photo is this painting, Sea Ribbon, as it now sits on my art table. I am trying a new surface for this watercolor - illustration board. I LOVE the textural effects I can achieve with this board! It works perfectly for my rocks and the sea stuff in between the rocks. BUT it is a challenge as well. Illustration Board is not anything like cold pressed watercolor paper nor canvas. It is ultra smooth - so much so that the paint does not always want to stay where I place it. If you work over an area too much, every under-painted layer lifts off. As well, if you overwork an area, you damage the surface of the board, and then you might as well throw it away.

I have to be careful not to place anything on the surface of the painting - except maybe a dry paper towel where my hand might rest. I put my hand on the painting while it was a bit damp from doing dishes, and the paint lifted onto my hand... lesson learned! However, this same quality can make it easier to lift out whites and highlights.

So - we will see if Sea Ribbon makes it through to completion without ruining the illustration board. It has been fun to work on once I understood its properties. However, understanding and being able to overcome the challenges are 2 different things! I will post this as soon as it is complete.


Lee Ann said...

This one is beautiful. I have a thing for the sea as well. There's such a sense of peace listening to the waves. The illustration board sounds very intriguing. I always use hot press watercolor paper because I like the smoothness and how easy it is to lift paint. (I make a lot of mistakes :) ) It sounds like I will have to get some illustration board and give that a try!

Kim said...

I wish the picture enlarged more, but it looks great from here. I can just picture you tucking rocks into your suitcase. Anyone who didn't know you would think that you were a nut job. Well, you might be that, but you're MY talented nut job. Can't wait to see it done!

L.Holm said...

Your trip sounds like sheer bliss, Joanne. Good luck with the illustration board. sounds tricky. Looks good so far!

Alvin Richard said...

Great start Joanne, I love these kind of paintings with a mosaic of sea stone.

Joanne said...

Oh LeeAnn,
I could not agree with you more! Ocean and peace seem to go together in my mind! When you add fog, then there is such a sense of mystery - almost like being in a mystery novel. :-) If you like smooth press watercolor paper, you are going to love illustration board! Do try it! Let me know what you think.

Joanne said...

Hi Kim,

I will make sure to have a picture that enlarges quite a bit when I post the completed painting - just for you! And yes - I suppose security would have been quite puzzled as to why I had small smooth stones in my luggage! Maybe if I also had a slingshot they would have thought it was for self defense. LOL

Joanne said...

Hi Liz,

Yes - I find that the board is tricky, but I am getting somewhat used to its quirks, and finding that I quite like it. In fact, I bought another couple of boards in different sizes! Of course, I have plans for those as well...

Take care of yourself, Liz. Here's a big hug for you. XXXX (Okay that's more than one... but who's counting?)

Joanne said...

Hi Alvin,
It is good to have you back! I love the ocean and its beaches... driftwood, sea stone, tide pools, birds, the smell of salt on the air... wish I could insert some of that smell into the painting as well! We shall see how this all turns out on this smooth illustration board - but it is something else for creating rock texture. :-)

Anonymous said...

I think your website looks really nice Joanne, and I'm glad you had a great summer. The piece on the easel looks like it's going to be a good one, too.

Joanne said...

Hi Veronica,

It's been a long time since we last talked - how are you doing? I see by your blog that you are keeping very busy! :-)
Thanks for checking out my new look on my website, and for the feedback. Have a great long weekend.