Studio: Marblehead, MA Rock Study Painting

11x14" acrylic on canvas panel. This is a scene in Marblehead, MA by the well known Barnacle restaurant. Original $150, Prints available (around $25).
11×14″ acrylic on canvas panel. This is a scene in Marblehead, MA by the well known Barnacle restaurant. If the image looks blurry, you can view the high resolution photo I uploaded for prints: Prints available (around $25). Original $150

This is a study of the rocks found along the shoreline of Marblehead, MA. In my last post, I showed an attempt at a painting including seagulls, coastal rocks and the Marblehead lighthouse in the background.  I quickly learned I needed to do some more in-depth study on the rocks before a second attempt.

This scene is right beside last scene, but on the other side of The Barnacle. In fact, if you’re sitting inside looking out at the ocean, this rock is in view on the right hand side, probably with a seagull on the lip.  I didn’t add the poo, but it was apparent it was a popular spot.

I used this reference photo, along with the plein air colors in the previous post.
I used this reference photo, along with the plein air colors in the previous post.

After scouring the web for paintings of rocks by master painters, getting some advice from Ed Terpening in his Google+ plein air community directing me to a blog article he wrote about “brush forward” technique this helped a bit in regards to color (it’s not easy though). Chatting with my friend and mentor, John Cogan, via email, really helped! He specializes in painting canyons so you should check out his site to see examples. I learned some great pointers. Look for the different planes of the rock, some in shadows, some that are sunlit and figure out the basic color and value of each. This will help to distinguish form of the different shapes like squared or rounded edges.  And lastly, just paint. When you finish, paint more.  (Thanks, John!). You’ll likely see a few of these rocks and gulls in future studies.

Artist chat: I use a limited pallet of Alizarin Crimson Hue, Cobalt Blue, Payne’s Grey, Cadmium Yellow Medium,  and Titanium White.  To make the paint smear on nice thick and smooth, I use Liquitex Slo-Dri Blending Gel. This blending gel really makes a difference in getting those soft edges and subtle changes in values when painting wet-on-wet.  I started by blocking in the big shapes, like you would painting en plein air. The shadow side of the rock, the light side, the water, the dark reflection in the water and the foreground rock on the right. From these basic shapes, I made adjustment to the color and details of the rock, but kept the values pretty close.  I made myself stay away from detail and hard lines near the edges of the canvas, away from the focal point where the seagull is.  Hope this can help! Let me know if you have some tips or questions.  Thanks!

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5 thoughts on “Studio: Marblehead, MA Rock Study Painting”

  1. Thanks for sharing your creation process!! it is really interesting, specially for me that I’m learning and I’m noting tips from everywhere!! Nice painting, it’s a really nice job!

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