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  • Writer's pictureLisa Fulmer

A slice of seaside

My partner's sister asked me to paint an ocean or beach scene for her. I started thinking about how I wanted to approach it - composition, mediums, techniques, colors and surface.

I had gotten a set of gouache paints before the pandemic and today I finally got around to cracking them open - my first time using gouache. I've been learning more about gouache for one of my clients and I was excited to finally give it a try. It feels like a cross between acrylic and watercolor - you really do get the best of both worlds.

I had seen another artist's painting of an ocean view that was very graphic, blocky and illustrative with linear stripes of sky, land and sea. What I really loved about it was the vertical format and the color palette. Then I had seen another treatment of an ocean scene with marks scratched into the paint. Another technique I knew I wanted to try was using a plastic ear bulb syringe to blow puffs of air across the surface to move paint and water around.

Lastly I had a beautiful 12"x16" Aquabord panel just screaming to be unwrapped. Aquabord is super sturdy - it has an amazing clay surface for multiple layers of water media, plus you can rub, spritz and scratch to your heart's content without wrecking it.

I started by brushing simple stripes of color from top to bottom for the sky, sea and frothy waves. I used a flat scraper to apply color for the rocks.

I worked the center first, adding more layers of color and considering some land in the distance. Scraped some lines to get the feeling of a wave brewing, then splattered and puffed lots of water with white paint for a wave crashing.

I used a smaller scraper to put in the jagged rocks, decided against the land mass, did some more scraping and puffing, then added some yellow and orange in the sky to contrast with the blues and give some sense of a sunrise. As a California girl, my mind first went to sunset over the Pacific ocean, but the recipient of this painting is on the east coast - she grew up playing on the beaches of the Atlantic. For this stage of the sky, I used a sponge roller instead of a brush.

My final steps were brightening the sunrise, adding a touch of yellow to balance the opposite side for a hint of reflections, softening some areas and dabbing more texture with a sea sponge.

My goal was to create a blend of abstraction and representation that was a combination of soft, sharp, and slightly linear - and I'm pretty happy with the result! I had fun using a variety of techniques and tools with a new medium. Now I just need to seal it with cold wax and the panel can be hung as is or framed without glass.

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