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I’ve been doing some studies on the balance of warm and cool colors and in particular how different combinations of warm and cool, light and dark impact a similar scene. Nothing makes a warm color vibrate more than when it is surrounded by a cooler hue and yet it’s easy to go overboard. Balance is the key. And balance is a constant dance. It’s fascinating to see how little it takes to swing one way or another. It’s like cooking. I love tasting a dish in the making and trying to figure out what is needed. A dash of heat? A splash of sour? A pinch of sweet? Same with painting; dashes of contrast, splashes of color, lines, textures… It’s contrast and connection; both simple and incredibly complicated. The choices are endless as are the results, but only some of them resonate.


My goal in painting these studies is to explore all this, to experiment, and discover how different combinations work. And then I can take what I’ve learned through these studies and apply them to new paintings. Ahhhh new paintings! Sometimes I think I could work in the studio all day every day, but when given the chance to do just that my cup runneth dry very quickly. One needs life to reflect upon. Again, balance is the key. Coming to the rescue in that regard, Steve suggested a short trip to the Cape. He thought the dunes at the National Seashore would be a great destination and there were a few other vistas along the way.  We both love wild places and as long as we can scout a few good scenes and get in a long walk each day we’re both happy.


I pictured myself plein air painting along the coastline at sunrise while Steve found photos. Idyllic but as it turns out not realistic. It was far too cold and (more importantly) windy to think about setting up an easel outside. Still, it was beautiful: There was sand and snow, wind and waves. We found vast stretches of dunes dotted with tiny shacks between us and the even vaster ocean beyond. There were sand fences wandering and sea grasses waving. There were lighthouses and rocky coastlines scattered with twisted bare trees. There were sailboats, seagulls, and even a lonely swan to feast our eyes upon. I came home with a basket full of exotic foreign ingredients and ideas.


Back in the studio I could feel the spark reignited by our little adventure. I will always love my routines but realize that in painting, as in life, the key is balance which changes from dish to dish, day to day, season to season, and canvas to canvas.


And guess what? I discovered that there are art residencies in the dune shacks that dot the undulating dunes we saw - what an adventure that would be!





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