A fun painting to create, but also one that offered some challenges. For one thing, I didn't know I would be away from it for an entire month and failed to write down the pigments I had initially chosen. The second was my unfamiliarity with creating sea foam on the beach--uncharted territory.
A first attempt at creating the sand beneath the sea foam
Life seems to be like this sometimes, new experiences push us to reach beyond what we know. In the process we learn something new, often with gratifying results. And its not always that the outcome is beautiful, its that we did it despite uncertainty. I tackle many things this way, but I also turn to books for suggestions and practice. Not only did I order a seascapes art book, prompted by this painting (that hasn't arrived yet), but I also bought Blair Witherington's gorgeous book, Sea Turtles, An Extraordinary Natural History of Some Uncommon Turtles. Unfortunately, this book is out of print, but can be found on the secondary market (with patience) at affordable prices and in my case, brand new condition.
While I described researching new anatomy terminology in Part I of this painting series, Blair's book brought me the beauty, heart and elegance of this mysterious creature, a species that has its roots in the Cretaceous period, 110 to 65 million years ago. True ancients.
Above I've turned to my scrub to smooth out the hard edges and reduce the clutter in the sand. The turtle is where I want the eye to go and since I want to enhance her detail, I want the sea and sand to stay smooth and suggestive rather than detailed and distracting.
In the two images immediately above, you see the results of me thinking about and playing around with the beach and foam. I'm moving back and forth between the turtle's shell and the beach, both requiring a bit of thinking and building. The turtle's back is partially covered with sand, slung by her flippers as she covered her egg chamber. By moving back and forth, from one area to the other, I relieve my tension while I'm working on an area of uncertainty. But it also has a painterly purpose. It allows me to keep an eye on the unity of colors as I watch the emphasis on the subject change with each color application to the background.
Watercolor on 9 x 12" Arches 140# cold pressed paper. Pigments used: WN French Ultramarine, WN New Gamboge (yellow), WN Van Dyke Brown, WN Burnt Sienna, a touch of DVP Permanent Rose as needed, and WN Permanent White Gouache. Most of my grays are a mix of ultramarine and burnt sienna.
Painting a Loggerhead Sea Turtle--Part I
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Sea Turtles
For the story of my June visit to Brevard County, FL, to see nesting sea turtles, visit The Loggerhead Sea Turtle at Vickie Henderson Art and Space Coast Beach Buzz with Marge Bell.
To learn more about sea turtle nesting on the coast of Florida visit Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge.
Blair Witherington's book, Sea Turtles, An Extraordinary Natural History of Some Uncommon Turtles.