Behind the Canvas
This original oil painting on canvas symbolizes everything I love about painting en plen air, particularly seascape paintings. The beach scene pictures a perfect day spent with some of my favorite artists. At the last minute some friends and I decided to beat the summer heat coming our way and drive out from Portland to Cannon Beach Oregon. The long drive gave me plenty of time to catch up with Karen Whitworth, an artist foundational in my own painting journey. We met up with Don Bishop whose chill vibe made for great company—his incredible zen oil paintings and landscape art are a constant source of artistic inspiration. We brought a cooler filled with Oregon Riesling wine, local cherries, and an assortment of delicious cheeses and cold cuts.
Painting on that oddly empty beach with the water lapping at our feet, and the gentle wind at our face was pure joy. As usual there was very little interaction as we each concentrated on our paintings. Generally finishing his paintings first, Don decided to venture out and try out a new lens for his camera. I’m not even sure Karen or I were aware he had wondered off.
When we were all sitting together to enjoy our little picnic we chatted about art ocean trivia and each of our goals moving forward. I can still taste the sweet cherries mixed with the salty air, hearing the waves slowly moving toward us as the tide came in. It’s the last time we have painted together, each of us driven by life in different directions. But that day! None of us will forget that perfect day on some beach, far from life’s pressures and toils. Each of our beach paintings of the day have probably long been sold to a happy new homes. You can see my own plein air beach painting here. Be sure to scroll to the bottom where you can watch a little video from this outing.
Don was able to sneak in a photograph and Karen and me completely immersed in our work. He graciously let me use the beautiful image as a reference for this painting at time when I was just getting my feet wet for art school. The new academic rigor isolated me from all my previous art friends and painting this scene again nourished my soul as I remembered that day.
This canvas art was painted thickly and expressively using a palette knife in order to mimic the tactile sensation I experienced at the beach. I painted it in several layers using differing hues on top of each other in order to create the illusion of sand and ocean waves in movement. I deliberately made the emerging image blurry and imprecise imbuing the painting with the sense of windy often obscure atmosphere inherent on the Pacific Northwest coast.