An artist's journal.
Here you'll find my paintings and musings, where the featured subjects could likely cover just about anything.
The last 4+ years I've been caring for my best buddy B during his courageous fight to live through cancer and it's complications. I'm tickled to report, he's getting better and I'm finding small bits of painting time again.

Looking forward to a daily celebration of life's gifts by using the brightest, happiest colors in the box!

Visitors looking for 'B's Journey', click here.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Matheson Hammock Memories

A peek at the process.

I found time to paint today and was able to get the sky almost done on this big canvas. It just needs some minor tweaking where the black gesso is peeking through the highly textured areas a bit too much. Otherwise, I like it. My apologies, as this photo is not very good. It was taken tonight and the colors, brushwork and texture are lost in the poor lighting. It's much prettier in person.

As I was working on this big canvas, I got to thinking about some of the beaches I used to visit in the late 1960's as a teenager growing up in Miami.

One of them was Matheson Hammock Park.  A man-made atoll on the Biscayne Bay, near my hometown of Coral Gables. It was built in the early 1930's,  a part of President Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corp that helped put unemployed men to work during the depression.
Back in the day, it was a beautiful place to spend a day at the beach. I hear it's not quite as nice now, which is too bad, but I'm painting it as if it's still in it's heyday.

The only photo I have of me as a baby, was taken at Matheson Hammock Park. I'm in the water, being held by my mom. I've always been fascinated by that photo, probably because it's my only baby pic and because my mom looks so happy. All heck broke loose in my family a few years later, and I pretty much rarely saw my mom happy again. Heck, I rarely saw my mom at all.

Reminiscence emotions got a hold of me and I decided to change the random location of my original beach painting, to this beach at Matheson Hammock Park.
I love it when I have an emotional connection to a painting I'm working on. It takes the painting experience up a notch.
This change of location meant I had to add the sea wall/sandbar and a few palm trees and I had to make the water calm. It's almost like a tidal pool at this beach. The water softly meets the sand, so the big waves I had started in my original layout had to go bye-bye.

Before I added the sandbar and trees to the canvas, I used a technique I learned from artist Robert Vickrey. He painted with egg tempera. When he wanted to add an element to one of his paintings, (such as a hat on a child) he would often place a piece of clear acetate on his (dry) canvas, painting the idea on the acetate first, to see if he liked it. He could move the acetate around, helping him with placement, perspective and such, before he actually painted the new element directly on his canvas.
He, of course, did not use the acetate on wet paint. So, if you use this idea, let whatever medium you are using dry first. Because I use acrylic paint, which we all know, dries in a nano second, I usually don't have to wait long if I want to use the acetate.

I use 3M Transparency Write-On Film. Sold in a box of 100 sheets (8.5x10.5) for about $22. Another neat thing about these sheets is they will static cling to the canvas. Just rub the sheet around on something to activate the cling. No tape needed.

Here are my trees, sketched on an acetate sheet to see if I liked the idea or not. I put the sandbar where one of the original waves was. You can see the lights in my studio shining on the acetate sheet.

The reference photo for my original beach/umbrella idea is one I created by mashing several photos together with photoshop.

I had a photo of a plain umbrella on the beach. I wanted a patterned umbrella, one of my own design, so I replaced the plain umbrella with a polka dot umbrella I found in an advertisement. Fortunately it's perspective jived pretty good with the original (plain) umbrella so it fit in nicely.
The polka dots became perspective reference points for me so I could create the patterned umbrella correctly. I wasn't worried about copyright issues using a published photo, since it was going to be SO different from the original. It was just a perspective tool for me.

 Here's the painting from my last blogpost, before I added the sandbar and trees. I'm glad the silly cartoon clouds seen here are gone now.

Brian's latest battle with lymphoma has kept me out of the studio quite a bit, so my painting updates will be sporadic for a while.
I can't wait to find a chunk of studio time again soon as I'm really having fun with this painting.

Thanks for visiting!


Shelley Smart said...

Wow! I like where you're going with this! The sand bar and palm trees are a really nice, and your sky is great! I hope you get to paint more, too!

Jenna said...

Thanks Shelley! It's getting better.
I'm having a love/hate relationship with the highly textured canvas, and maintaining a soft quality, so I started dry brushing the top layers to soften it a bit. It looks cool in person.
I'm still hoping I can capture an old vintage postcard feel.
B's got another round of chemo coming up, so painting will be on hold for a while.
Thanks for stopping in.

Lori said...

How interesting! I love it so far. The greens and browns give it such a natural look.

Jenna said...

Thanks Lori! I like it with these earthy tones too, but I do want to lighten it up a bit, without making it garish. Here's hoping.
Hey, I love your new songs!
You are a very talented girl!
Hopefully, we'll be out and about again soon and can catch you live somewhere. (when B is better)
Thanks again.

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"There are days when I feel I could've painted the Sistine Chapel and, then, there are the days when I'm not sure I could trace a stick figure.... the only difference between these days is my state of mind"~ Jenna Millward Corkill