Saturday, June 12, 2010

Learning and Growing--Painting of a Salt Marsh

This painting, on 12" x 16" gallery wrapped canvas, has been a long time coming. I have felt stuck and put it away a few times. As I worked on it in May, it reached "near completion". Yet, I was uncertain about the best solution to a couple of issues. The foreground grasses were problematical, sometimes seeming too bland; then a change would overdo the variation in tone and color. Bland wasn't good, but I did not want the foreground to distract from the egrets (intended to be a focal point) or from allowing the viewer's eye to move about the scene. You may want to enlarge this image to get a better view of the egrets and other details.
Knowing that I would be working with my painting mentor Linda Blondheim again in June, I waited for her advice. I mentioned her e-critique service for painters in two February posts, the last time we worked together. Between her suggestions and some experimenting on my part, the piece is now in a good place. There will still be minor color adjustments with transparent glazes on the lightest grass tips and perhaps on the tree mass furthest forward on the right. These will be subtle enough that they will not show much in a photo. So, I decided to go ahead and show it to all y'all.
Although the reference photo was taken one January, that was a mild winter (unlike this year!), and the salt marsh did not look completely winter-like yet. Also, some of the color changes I made to pump up the visual interest of several areas slanted the scene toward a late autumn in look. We have hiked the wooded and marshland trails in Fort Caroline National Monument several times, both on our own and with family members visiting from other parts of the country. Every trail turn reveals new natural beauty in this park, part of an immense preserve spanning thousands of acres near the mouth of the St. Johns River here in Jacksonville, Florida.
Question of the day: Isn't it interesting how some creations seem to come together in a flash (not only for painters, but for all creative individuals), and others unfold slowly?


  1. But oh the joy of seeing those creations come together, no matter the speed!

    This is a lovely scene, Mary, truly. I didn't even see the egret at first. What a delightful surprise!

  2. Thank you, Sherry for your sweet comments. Yes, that egret is small in the big old marsh, but shows up quite well when the painting is viewed "in person". The joy of creations coming together-----you've got that right!

  3. I think the layout is very effective. Keep my eyes on the water, the right side of the horizon, and then return back to the other party to a central point where catch herons. It's a very nice piece of art. I love how you express the depth of view. One can easily realize a large distance between individual plans. It's just a beautiful work of art.

  4. I very much appreciate your description of the way your eyes move through the scene, J.B.--especially since it is exactly what I had hoped for :>) ! Marshes are deceptively difficult to pant and to show the depth of view, so it is gratifying to hear that this works for you.

  5. You nailed it, Mary! You captured the atmosphere - that lazy haze! I look forward to this scene each time we travel I-95 and
    A-1-A. So beautiful! The gallery wrapped canvas keeps it open and on going! What a great job!

  6. Wow, Rosemary, you made my day with your complimentary response to this painting. Thank you very much for the encouragement and for your blogging friendship.