Seaside Daisies

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My location on Cape Cod

How perfect on a summer day to paint daisies growing beside the sea! Before the rush of summer at the beach, I spent a few quiet hours on the bayside of Cape Cod capturing this scene.

Daisies have long been one of my favorite flowers.  There is something about their simplicity that speaks to me. In the language of flowers daisies symbolize innocence and purity.  In Norse mythology the daisy is Freya’s sacred flower. She is the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. The daisy represents motherhood or new beginnings. It is appropriate that at the beginning of summer, I painted “Seaside Daisies”.

Seaside Daisies pastel

“Seaside Daisies”, pastel, 11×15

Daisies are a challenge to paint in such a way that they do not resemble the many flowers in crayon of our childhood. I tried to capture the clumps of flowers before me and the general sense of the scene. I will remember this peaceful and beautiful location as I stood at the edge of the changing sea. Before long, I heard the waves as the tide shifted from low to high and the daisies nodded in the breeze.

Technical Notes: Sennelier LaCarte pastel paper, Pastels by Terry Ludwig, Sennelier, Unison, Girault, and Conte pencils.

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Beach at Cahoon Hollow

Cahoon Hollow in Wellfleet, Massachusetts is one of the most popular beaches of the Cape Cod National Seashore.  There is a steep path down the 75 foot cliff to the beach on the outer arm of Cape Cod. The dramatic cliff collapsed in a  severe rainstorm last fall taking a vehicle with it, but it has since been repaired.  The Beachcomber, a seaside bar at the top of the cliff is part of the beach experience of Cahoon Hollow.

Working from a photo taken in summer, I began the painting of the beach with an alcohol underpainting on sanded pastel paper. This technique is useful when depicting waves that cover the sand on the shore.

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In Process – Cahoon Hollow

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Cahoon Hollow, pastel, 9×12

It is always a challenge to try to capture the motion of the ocean’s surf.  This alcohol wash technique aids in setting the lower layers of sand below the shallow water. I look forward to future paintings of the ocean at the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Technical notes: UArt #400 Sanded Pastel Paper, various pastels including Unison, Terry Ludwig, Girault, Rembrandt, Nu Pastel, and Conte Pastel Pencils. 70% Alcohol.

By the Sea

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Easel at Mayo Beach for After Hopper in Wellfleet, MA

The Paint Out for  Addison Art Gallery’s “After Hopper” in Wellfleet, MA was last Saturday. The event celebrates the artist Edward Hopper and continues the tradition of plein air painting iconic images of Cape Cod. I chose Mayo Beach and the oil house behind what was once the Mayo’s Beach Lighthouse on Kendrick Avenue. The pink and white beach roses which surround the simple painted brick outbuilding were in full bloom. Artists had the morning to paint and then deliver the finished work to the Wellfleet Public Library for an afternoon reception. This is often called a Quick Draw at other plein air paint outs.

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Thumbnail sketch for “By the Sea”

I planned my composition with a quick thumbnail sketch. With only a few hours to work from concept to completion, I thought the simple building that originally held the oil for the lighthouse would make for good painting that could feature the simple beauty of the Cape scene. The race against the clock is helpful to push me to capture the essence of the view and not get caught up in overworking a painting. I used the broken split rail fence that was surrounded by the roses as a directional element to draw the viewer into the focal point.

I finished the pastel, framed it, and delivered it to the Wellfleet library to be hung for the reception to be held from 4 to 6 pm.  Soon I was rewarded for my morning’s work, when a new collector chose “By the Sea” for a gift for his wife. I have memories of a beautiful day by the sea.

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“By the Sea”, pastel, 11×14, private collection

Corn Hill Beach

“Corn Hill Beach”,11×14, plein air pastel


The days of summer on the Cape are just memories now, but I finally have a moment to post some of my paintings done on locations where artist, Edward Hopper painted in the 1930’s. He spent half of his summers in a home studio in Truro, MA on the outer Cape. He painted Corn Hill which is a long, narrow sand beach which borders grass covered sand dunes that is north of Pamet Harbor. Corn Hill is named for the location where the Pilgrims found a cache of Indian corn which sustained them through the first winter.
On location at Corn Hill Beach

On location at Corn Hill Beach


Often the experience of plein air painting is more than the created image. When I look at this piece it brings back the warmth of the summer day at the beach, the sounds of music from the group of beachgoers, and the scent of sunscreen covered bodies. These are sweet memories to sustain me until the next summer season.
Painting notes: Ampersand pastel board (11×14) with a variety of pastels from NuPastels, Conte Pastel pencils, Rembrandt, Unison, and Terri Ludwig brand pastels.

At the Elbow

The latest painting on my easel is “Lighthouse Beach” in Chatham. When New Englanders raise a left arm and point to their elbow, they are referring to the town of Chatham, MA. Cape Cod which was formed by the ice age is shaped like an arm at a right angle and there sits Chatham with a quaint  downtown, picturesque lighthouses, and barrier beaches. The beach is one of the outstanding beaches on the Cape at the base of Chatham Lighthouse.

"Lighthouse Beach", pastel, 12x24

“Lighthouse Beach”, pastel, 12×24

To access the beach one must go down a flight of stairs and the scene that I captured is looking to the North across the rose hips of the beach roses and beach grasses to the water beyond. The diagonal design that this emphasized seems to add something different from the standard horizontal prospective of sky, water, and land that most beach scenes offer. Lighthouse Beach seems to go on as far as the eye can see and I hoped that the painting captures this feeling.

Technical information : I worked on  mounted U art #400 to archival foam  board. Pastels for the sky, water, and sand were mostly Unisons.   Grasses and foreground foliage were mostly Rembrandt, Terry Ludwig, Sennelier, and NuPastels.

Painting this in the studio after a summer on the Cape was a good way to make the summer last a little longer.