Our weather couldn't have been better for the entire trip. The days were warm and sunny with cool mornings and evenings that were easily handled with a light sweater. I marveled the entire time at how lucky we were. Some members of the group had been in the area the previous week and reported heavy downpours for days on end, but for our visit we could not have ordered up better days along the rugged and spectacular Mendocino, Ft. Bragg coastline.
On the first day, we painted right below our hotel balconies in the Noyo Harbor area. I believe I am right in saying that this is a harbor formed by the meeting of the Noyo River with the Pacific Ocean. The harbor is surrounded on all sides by high rock cliffs, some covered with trees and forest, some craggy and stark. The intense early morning light from the east forced me to face toward the ocean (west) and look for painting opportunities there. There is so much to see when you look out to the ocean...distant cliffs, rock pounded by surf. It's immense and can be almost overwhelming.
I decided to paint the massive cliff face at the very point that the ocean meets the river. The early morning light was coming in strong and low from the left and raking across a few jutting areas of the cliff. I wanted to capture that light while painting the rock boldly and quickly. I knew the scene would change rapidly and soon the whole cliff face would be in sun, so I sketched directly with the brush on a white (untoned) canvas panel. All the while, I made an effort to remain clear in what I wanted to paint - in other words, I had a plan, something I so often forget in the rush of plein air painting. I made a special effort to sketch exactly the areas where the light struck the sloping rock face in the lower left and the very tip at the top of the cliff before they changed.
|Noyo Harbor Cliff, Ft. Bragg, CA|
This was the result and my first painting of the trip. It's oil on canvas, 12"x16".
Frankly I was very pleased with the result and consider it one of my best plein air efforts in awhile. I love the colors and I felt that I maintained some restraint and correct values in the light.
On the same morning, Andy (left) and Rusty (below) paint similar scenes. If you look carefully at the picture of Rusty, you can see the same concrete seawall that appears in my painting (extreme right).