On the Easel: Gold Coast, Sand Dune

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(My “On the Easel” posts give you a behind-the-scenes look at what I am working on, what went well, what went wrong, and things I learn.)

Below is Gold Coast, Sand Dune. It’s a simple beach scene, with glaring sun and an interesting play between light and shadow.

Dan Scott, Gold Coast, Sand Dune, 2021
Dan Scott, Gold Coast, Sand Dune, 2021

Reference Photo and Study

Here’s the reference photo I painted from:

Reference Photo - Gold Coast, Sand Dune

Details

  • Oil on Ambersand gessoboard. 18 x 24 inches.
  • Main colors: Ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, cadmium red, alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow, cadmium yellow deep, viridian green, transparent brown oxide, and titanium white.

Refer to my supplies list for more details on what I use.

Notes

  • Color temperature is the key feature of this painting. Notice the striking contrast between the cool blues and purples against the tinted yellows and oranges. See my previous newsletter for more details on this.
  • The other key feature is texture, particularly the greenery at the top of the sand dune. This conveys a sense of depth and activity.
  • I used visible brushwork to inject life into an otherwise bland sky.
  • A subtle change in color temperature and value suggests wetness in the sand. This is a tricky effect to capture.
  • There are a few vague figures in the background, painted with nothing more than dabs of color.
  • There is a subtle value gradation along the horizon line. Notice how it gets lighter towards the left-hand side. This suggests the sun is around that side.
  • The tree cluster on the left is important for value contrast. It anchors the painting and makes the surrounding colors appear lighter by contrast.

Progress Shots

Step 1: Stain the canvas with transparent oxide brown.

Dan Scott, Gold Coast, Sand Dune, 2021 WIP (1)

Step 2: Simple sketch, focusing on major shapes and lines.

Dan Scott, Gold Coast, Sand Dune, 2021 WIP (3)

Step 3: Paint the sky. Notice how the stained surface makes it easier to “see” the light colors.

Dan Scott, Gold Coast, Sand Dune, 2021 WIP (4)

Step 4: Work down into the sea.

Dan Scott, Gold Coast, Sand Dune, 2021 WIP (5)

Step 5: Continue into the wet sand. Notice how I’m pushing from one area into the next. This helps with fluidity.

Dan Scott, Gold Coast, Sand Dune, 2021 WIP (6)

Step 6: Add the darkest darks.

Dan Scott, Gold Coast, Sand Dune, 2021 WIP (7)

Step 7: Start working on the shadows and greens.

Dan Scott, Gold Coast, Sand Dune, 2021 WIP (8)

Step 8: Block in the greens.

Dan Scott, Gold Coast, Sand Dune, 2021 WIP (9)

Step 9: Add texture to the greens.

Dan Scott, Gold Coast, Sand Dune, 2021 WIP (12)

Step 10: Refine and detail.

Dan Scott, Gold Coast, Sand Dune, 2021 WIP (14)

Step 11. Sign and photograph the finished painting.

Dan Scott, Gold Coast, Sand Dune, 2021
Dan Scott, Gold Coast, Sand Dune, 2021

Additional Resources

Thanks for Reading!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I appreciate it! Feel free to share with friends. If you want more painting tips, check out my Painting Academy course.

Happy painting!

Signature Draw Paint Academy

Dan Scott

Draw Paint Academy

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