Hi folks, I just can't seem to conquer the little cove - water ripples, and is my sand ok? Yes, I also used a black and white photo for contrast/value guidance, plus printed off a picture of painting as is, the better to judge/see what to fix. Now I am coming to you for a critical eye. Thanks in advance.



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Hi Marion, I think your water and ripples are wonderful! Can even see through it. Also the ripples in the distant little eddy. Beautiful atmosphere with lost horizon and the values of distant tree line and boats.

In my opinion you maybe having trouble with the color "intensity" of the sand beach. Notice in the photo the colors here are more muted. In this kind of atmosphere lights and darks mingle gradually, little or no sharp edges. You can even pull some sky color in here because it will reflect it some. Think of the beach being just a back drop for your beautiful water focal point, doesn't need a lot of detail here. Same with the orange tree in the background, it's painted nicely, but the eye goes right to it because the color intensity. It should only help to lead back into the painting like the rest of it does so nicely.

Anyway, hope this helps...You have a super nice, peaceful, dreamy painting going here...Love it!

Thanks Mark! The sand has been painted over a lot lol, couldn't tell if I needed more detail or less. Think you may be right...if I tone down/blend the sharp dark sand it may work better. Yes the tree needs to tone down, it was perfect before I touched it again, have to learn when to stop. Thanks very much.

Hi Marion.

The best photo I have posted to show sand is LawrencetownNS04, and it is in the "Photos" section.  Most of the beach is actually stones after severe erosion courtesy tropical storm Juan, but the sand zones can be  seen regardless.

Beach sand when dry is a fairly uniform colour, which varies depending upon the type of rock/soil it came from.  When wet it most often darkens, as wet sand is not as reflective as dry sand.  Close to the edge of the water, the sand is often covered by a fine, moving film of water that sinks or drains off as the last wave recedes.  This film is very reflective, and it is here that we see the sky colour reflected, as noted by Mark.

This means that when painting a beach scene, we are dealing with three distinctly different zones of sand.  Wet and reflective, damp and "darker", plus dry and light.  The latter typically comprise the major expanse of visible sand.  The fun starts when we realize that these zones are not hard-lined and parallel with the main lines of the beach.  While these do follow the general line of the beach, there are variations due to differences in contour/slope from one area of the shore to another.  There is also a bit of a diffuse transition area between each zone and its neighbor.  The width of each zone is, for our purposes, influenced by two main factors: wave/surf activity, and beach slope.  A more gradual beach slope will give much wider wet and damp zones than a beach with a higher slope angle.  Active surf can produce a much wider wet zone and a slightly wider damp zone compared with a gentle (normal) wave action.  As Mark suggested, the wet zone can be indicated with some reflected sky colour.  I use a bit of dark "neutral gray" with the basic sand colour to indicate the damp zone.  The real key is to feather them together and not have dramatic value or colour shifts; it is still the same sand, after all.  Then, just like anything else, there are slightly different shades and values in the sand - it did not all come from the same piece of stone.  Using a touch of your basic sand colours here and there will provide enough variation for this.

Just like vegetation, you will see a graying down of the sand colour as you go from front to back.  You may find a bit of light neutral gray works, or a light tint of the colour complimentary to your sand.  Do not remember who said it, but recently read another artist explaining that since we have only a small area to work into, oftentimes we have to slightly exaggerate things to make the scene look realistic.  Depth perception is one of those areas that almost mandates some degree of overstatement.  

Hope this helps a bit; it can be confusing.  I find that understanding the basic dynamics helps achieve a more realistic rendering on canvas.  Seascape artists spend a lot of time studying this type of sand/water effect.  

Hi Charles, thanks for all the info. I have worked some more on my sand, think it is getting better. No rocks n this beach, all fine sand, and very shallow at this part of the beach. Took this picture early one morning, sky is overcast, foggy morning, light had not broken through yet, so not really sure what colours I would add, I mixed my browns, so may be a little more red or blue in places. It had rained during the night, so there was very little dry sand. Also very small gradual slope. The bay is on the Ottawa River, and a calm morning. realizing after reading your comments there is a lot to consider with sand that I hadn't really been thinking about. Will take another look at my painting keeping all those considerations in mind. Here is what it looks like at presen. Thanks very much!

Aha!  That explains why the sand is so brown!  The eastern end of the Bay of Fundy (NS/NB) is basically a fine brown silt much like this due to the clay along the shore line.  If there is a fair amount of red silt along your shore, the traditional beach sand theory may not work as well.  Capillary action in the sand gives a different effect than what one would get with clay or fine sediment.

Not sure I mentioned it before, but I really like what you have done with the sky and water. Not sure I would change anything there.

That orange tree is still a visual magnet though.  There seems to be a dark halo around the foliage - since sharp contrasts attract the eye, reducing or removing that halo might make a difference as well.  You have toned the tree down, but that halo is just working against you.

Lol, This is Constance Bay, (Ottawa since we amalgamated several years ago), Ontario. The painting I did of my grandson on beach, is around the point from this beach. I toned down the tree some more, but see what you mean about halo effect. Sheesh, funny how something works in real life, but not in a painting. I still have to remind myself that it is ok to changes things to make the painting work. Thanks so much for your feedback!

Marion, dont you just love the feed back from the great artist eyes on this site?! thanks for posting so we can all learn. i think you are doing a great job on this painting! i cant wait to see your finished post!

I am about done with it, will post after I put the top coat on...that is another discussion. Yes there are very talented people here, and good eyes for seeing what adjustments to make etc. I have learned a lot here.
Ok, Karen just posted...I am not just about done, lol. Back to the easel!

Ohhh Marion, you are sooo funny! I bet you were just about done shaking up that can of varnish weren't you?...We just can't get away with anything around here can we? lol!

Lol Mark. You've got that right! Now changing the shoreline scares me. Will be interesting to see what my paint brush wants to do. Creative opportunity right? Fingers crossed....

Hi Marion!

such a lovely reference and you have done such a nice job of it! And as you say, you did a great job on the values especially!

Sand is such a funny thing, it really comes in very different colors depending on the location. Here in oregon the sand tends to be very gray, but I can see that in this location the sand is very red! And you do want to stay true to that or it would look like a different place.

Here is a sampling of the colors in your painting (on the bottom row) and the photo (top row)

Things you might notice - you have added some pinker colors in the sky (lovely!) but the big difference is the color of the water - yours leaning toward and more blue green grey while the water in the photo is warmer.

The third group from the left is that back hill. You can see how your colors go from a more blue green grey to a more vivid rust color, while the the colors in the photo are closer in color and intensity.

the last group is the sand from back to front. You have just added more of that vivid rust.

So, what would I suggest? Here is a photo of some adjustments I made

So, to address the added color in the sky - I have added some of that pink color to the water, as water will always reflect the sky color. I've also added the darker color in your sky - a greyish color to the foreground water. It's all about integrating those colors.

I've adjusted the water line to be more curved, not such a straight line. The curves are larger in front, closer together in back to help create distance.

The waves that form will be small - closer together in the distance and become larger in the foreground. Yours are about the same width all the way back. I've used the pinkish sky color to create the foam on the waves

It's always work to get a beach like this to "lay down" and not seem like a vertical wall. To do this I've used gradation of color, value and shape.

The color in the back is lighter and greyer with no detail - just soft blurred lines. Both the dark and light colors are greyer and lighter. Moving to darker, richer color and more color variations in the foreground

I've created overall shapes in the sand that are wider in the foreground and diminish as you go back.The dark colors creating a triangle type shape - Think of a road in perspective. You want to get those diminishing lines instead of horizontal ones.

I also added some sky reflections in the wet sand.

And lastly I just brought the color and value of the tree and background hills closer together and lighter. Just so they stay back in the distance.

That's all I've got! Thanks for posting this Marion! I had a lot of fun playing with it. But they are just my ideas!


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