The Big Sur

I begin today by sketching the basic elements of the painting on the canvas with a brush dipped in a thin oil wash made of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin) + Liquin. To see any of these images larger just click on the picture.

For those of you unfamiliar with this region the Big Sur is the beautiful, rocky Central coast of California extending from Carmel to Morro Bay.  The name is derived from the Spanish term “el sur grande” that means “the big south”. Others say it came from “el país grande del sur” or “the big country of the south”. Both refer to the location south of the Monterey Peninsula. Following Highway 1 along the cliffs and bluffs is spectacular. Jack and I love this area and I’m so excited about the opportunity to paint the picturesque coastline for our collector.

So let’s get to painting. Since the light comes from the sky it is painted first. My basic sky mixes, from left to right, are Pthalo Blue + White, Ultramarine Blue + White and MUD + White. Below these three is a mixture of Cadmium Orange + a tiny bit of MUD + White to be used for the highlights on the clouds. If you would like to learn more about our Double Primary Color Mixing System CLICK HERE.

The blue portion of the sky is blocked in. The lighter mix is used toward the horizon and the darker blue near the top as the dome of the sky extends overhead. Then the dark part of the clouds are painted into the wet blue.

Warm highlights complete the clouds, painting wet into wet keeps the edges soft. The Pacific Ocean is made a muted blue, Ultramarine Blue + MUD + White, in the distance. The color is more intense as the water comes closer to the viewer. I’m using a mix of Ultramarine Blue + a little bit of Pthalo Blue + White for the portion of the ocean shown above. This is one of those simple rules painters use to give the feeling of depth in a painting: Muted Colors go back, Intense Colors come forward.

The closest water is Pthalo Blue + a hint of Hansa Lemon Yellow + White. Moving to the coastline another rule is employed: Cool Colors recede, Warm Colors come forward. The most distant mountain is made bluer, or cooler. The next one coming closer is made a little warmer. The closest bluffs are the warmest, or more orange, so they advance in front of the others. Distant objects are also lighter, so the farthest mountains are lightest, the closest ones are the darkest.

The sun warmed rocks lining the coast are finished. They offer a nice contrast with the clear blue water. Monterey Cypress Trees found in the area look so “arty” with twisted, gnarled trunks. The trunk is edged with a little of the Ultramarine Blue + White from the ocean. This helps to “round” the tree trunk. Thank you for visiting our studio today. Hope you will come back tomorrow. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik


4 Responses to “The Big Sur”

  1. Janet Zeh Says:

    It’s going to be gorgeous, Mikki!

  2. mjspringett Says:

    Lovely start, thanks for sharing MJ

  3. reham Says:

    woow , I really love your technique and colors

  4. pitzersart Says:

    Oh wow!
    Makes me a bit “home sick”. That is such beautiful country.

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