Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Back to Bodega Bay

Once again I joined Howard Rees and a group of artists on his annual workshop to Bodega Bay and Tomales California.  This year the weather was spotty with mostly foggy and cool days.  We did have occasional sun and big clouds, but for the most part, we had to contend with the challenging conditions that heavy overcast brings.  Without light for contrast and color, most paintings become a study in gray.

The first day was along Bodega Bay painting the boats at dock.  A pleasant surprise occurred when a homeowner who lived nearby came out to see us and ended up purchasing my first painting of the trip.
First Painting of Trip, Purchased on location by resident (9x12 oil)

9x12 oil on canvas panel

With that very flattering start to the day, I had a bowl of very good clam chowder and then did this view of the same dock area in the afternoon.  I liked both of these paintings and felt that it had been a very good painting day. 

Schoolhouse beach, 2nd painting of the second day.

Our next day was a visit to Schoolhouse Beach just North of Bodega Bay.  It was foggy all day, but not too cold. I painted two scenes that day. 
Schoolhouse Beach  1st painting of the second day.

The first, a study of rocks along the shore, started out with promise, but I lost it somewhere along the way.  To make it worse, I succumbed to the temptation to add a half hearted wave breaking against the foreground rock.  Pathetic.  However, I think I am going to revisit this painting soon and see if I can't save it.  I think if I push the background rocks a little further away and create a bit of surf between the front and rear rock groupings, I may end up with a passable study.  The second painting of the day was of a point jutting into the ocean.  Once again, I think I can "finish" this painting with some bolder strokes in the land mass, giving weight and dimension.

Bodega Church  12" x 16" oil on canvas
 Day three found our group in Bodega, at the scene of the schoolhouse and church used in the film "The Birds"  I painted the church against my better judgement and ended up with a predicable result.  I should have rendered the entire scene much more impressionistically...and I may return to do that.  Finally, I turned my easel 180 degrees to paint a very small study of a fence running beside the road.  Howard helped me pull it off when he suggested a lighter background and also added the hot splash of light at the bottom center of the painting.  A nice study, in my opinion. 
Fence in Bodega  Oil 6"x6"

9 x 12 oil on canvas panel
On the last day of our workshop, the sun was out briefly in the morning, and I painted this scene on the main street of Tomales.  My goal was to capture the very impressive tree, with the barn as a secondary interest.  I totally missed the massive size and presence of the clump of trees and floundered with the colors of the foreground.  These was probably the least successful of all of the paintings on the trip.  I'm not sure it's worth the effort, but I may try to either 'fix' this one up or paint another version with this as a study in what not to do.  Although I was running out of gas artistically I decided to try one more as the fog settled into the valley once again.  This charming cluster of buildings could be seen from the front of the Shoreline School District.  Once again, the subdued colors and lack of contrast were a challenge as I resisted the urge to add bolder colors.  The workshop gathered for one last critique, and it was time to head home. 
Tomales Valley Scene  8 x 16 oil on panel
 The Workshop participants:

Howard Rees

Kathy and Sierra

 A good trip with wonderful people and artists!!