"Rocky Shores of Bodega Bay" | 9" x 12" Oil on canvas panel
Available at KimVanDerHoek.com
©2014 by Kim VanDerHoek
This was my second painting for the day when I was part of the Sonoma Plein Air event in August. I'd finished a painting earlier that morning( see the post Beautiful Bodega Bay for more information about the earlier piece). What you see here, "Rocky Shores of Bodega Bay" was also completed en plein air in the afternoon a few miles north of my morning location.
I chose this spot because I liked the rocks, bluffs and color of the distant hills. When painting bluffs and/or coastal rocks I try to keep some sharp edges and straighter lines to give sense of hardness to those elements. Too many rounded curves tend to make rocks look like potatoes and turn craggy bluffs into gentle rolling hills. I stated most of the foreground pretty simply with the rocks rendered in one dark color and the bluff in three. There are a few variations in value here and there but, I find that for the most part these elements look better when kept simple and stated with a strong hand.
The mid-ground bluff required more effort and detail since I designed the composition to lead your eye there. It's tempting to paint the shadow areas of a distant bluff as dark as my eye sees them but what happens if I do that is the picture plane flattens out and the look of distance becomes lost. Therefore, the shadow shapes on that mid-ground bluff need to be lighter than the darkest darks in the foreground bluff as well as a closer value to the highlight shapes on the mid-ground bluff. The entire bluff is more muted, bluer and less saturated than the one in the foreground.
The distant hills are again a little lighter and less saturated than the mid-ground bluff with soft edges where they meet the sky to help reinforce the atmospheric feel.
In this painting I was faced with a choice about how to handle the water. This is usually the case with an ocean painting since the ocean is constantly in motion. There were crashing waves at times as well as moments of calm between sets. For this piece I chose to keep the water pretty calm for two reasons, one, this is a small canvas and adding a bunch of waves in such a small area wouldn't necessarily make the painting any better and two, adding a lot of detail to the water would steal the focus away from the rocks and bluffs which isn't what I wanted to happen. Also, it's helpful to have quiet, less detailed passages in a painting because they highlight, in a sense, the areas that contain more detail.