Tag Archives: Redondo Beach

Adventures in plein air painting

St. Francis pleinair, by frankeber 2012         St. Francis pleineir_detail, by frankeber 2012

I have recently started teaching a plein air watercolor class. Only six people in our group, among them three accomplished plein air painters in other media. You know, the lesser one’s …hahaha…just kidding!

We met in Palos Verdes, a peninsula that juts out into the pacific and divides the South bay from Long Beach. I had a feeling that we’d see a nice, slanted shadow going across the front of St. Francis church and thought it might be a good lesson for a watercolor class: shadows, light within shadows, reflected light..that sort of thing.

Most artists, especially ones coming from other mediums, always try to do too much. It is one of the hardest things to learn in watercolor painting! You cannot work the same way, not even close!
The second hardest thing to let go off, is that you don’t blend colors, they do it themselves on the paper and if you interfere too much, you’ll get streaky and tired looking washes.

Of course, painting directly from the subject can pose a whole different world of problems. It is a bit scary, being out there, all exposed. You get people who watch you, both nice and less favorable comments and your subject matter changes by the minute. But it is also a great teacher, mother nature is!

Speaking of plein air: I am heading to Europe for the entire month of April, doing nothing but painting outside! Next time I post, it will be from Prague or the south of France! Wish me luck and let’s hope the weather will cooperate!

Five against One on Beryl Ave., Redondo Beach

five_against_one_on Beryl Ave, by frankeber 2012

Five against One on Beryl Avenue, Redondo Beach (2012)
See more paintings in my portfolio.

How interesting would it be if traffic could be brought to a standstill by those guys? In a city like this one, where the automobile is the undisputed king? Wishful thinking… *Nothing* will bring traffic to a standstill in LA, except of course, traffic itself…the ultimate irony? There could be another blog post right there.

Today, I would like to talk a bit about composition. At first glance, this painting is a simple H composition: something on the left, something on the right, and the shape of the distance connecting both. Upon closer inspection, you will notice that I have actually tried to make this a Z composition. The shadow in the foreground is leading the viewer into the picture, going diagonally to what I think is the focal point, namely the guy in the plaid, red shirt and the car under the tree.

From there, the shadow points left via the squatting skaters and onto the left side of the picture, finishing at the top of the building. The light post and the wires are taking you back to the right side and out on the top. Better yet, the eyes will hopefully remain in the picture frame and are being taken back down to the focal point by the transformer pole. Basically, I was trying to create a bit of a path through this piece.

You can see I have thought quite a bit about this. Does it work? I don’t know, it’s for you to judge, but I think the key is to think about what’s going on in our painting *before* we start painting! Once we pick up a paintbrush, it is too late to figure all this out.

fiveagainstone_on Beryl Ave_detail, by frankeber 2012

This is a street here in Redondo Beach, leading down to the ocean. About six brushstrokes signify that  there is an ocean. I also simplified the left side with the warmer buildings and all the cars except the right one. What is suppose to be the more distant part of the city is really just an abstract. The less you do, the better it is! Watercolor works that way!

Two major shows…

I am happy to announce that I made it into the Transparent Watercolor Society of America (TWSA) 35th Annual Exhibit as well as the National Watercolor Society (NWS) 2011 All-Member show! It’s a great honor to be part of these two prestigious shows where such amazing artists participate. On a local level, I will also be part of the Redondo Beach Art Group (RBAG) show in the Manhattan Beach Creative Arts Center (MBCAC) in May. Dates are as follows. If you’re a local, please come; it would be nice to connect names to faced!

TWSA 35th Annual Exhibit in Kenosha, Wisconsin: May 7 – July 31
NWS 2011 All-Member Show in San Pedro, California: May 15 – June 12
RBAG show at the MBCAC: May 14 – May 26

Redondo Beach harbor, 2010 by frankeber

Redondo Beach Harbor, 2010 ::: Watercolor on paper ::: Entry for the TWSA 35th Annual Exhibit
Posted in the California, USA gallery


NYC Lunch Hour, 2011 ::: Watercolor on paper ::: Entry for the 2011 NWS All-Member show
Posted in the New York, USA gallery

Peninsula clouds

Peninsula clouds, 2010 by frankeber

Peninsula Clouds, 2010
24″ x 19″ : 61 cm x 48.3 cm

Before the big storm moved in I took the time to get some good shots of the Palos Verdes Peninsula with clouds billowing above it. I always wanted to paint this view looking south from the pier. Most of the time it looks a bit ‘boring’ with cerulean blue skies, the ocean, the headland and the sand. I wanted to paint it so the center of interest would be the sky. In our area you don’t get to see a lot of cumulus cloud formations as it is almost always sunny and cloudless. Not that I am complaining but this time of the year is perfect for nice and interesting skies.

This painting is all about the sky. Painting clouds in watercolor can be tricky, but with a few preliminaries it can turn out quite nice. One thing to remember is that they paint themselves if you let them! The sky needs to be painted in one go and it helps to pre-wet your paper to create nice soft edges. But not everywhere! It is important to leave some areas dry to also have some hard edges where clouds meet the blue sky. Of course, that depends on the look of the actual sky you are doing.

When applying the washes it is imperative to work quickly, roughing in the shapes of the clouds and painting the sky areas around it. I premix two big puddles and use two paint brushes so I don’t have to go back to mixing more right in the middle of it all. Since the paper keeps drying while you apply the washes you should get a wide range of beautiful edges, from soft to broken to hard. I love getting the broken shapes that only happen on damp paper. They are the trickiest and riskiest to achieve as the paper is just about dry, the possibility of explosions imminent! The key is not to fiddle with it, NEVER go back in with the brush trying to correct! Usually I like to put some figures in my paintings, but I felt it unnecessary this time. The seagulls rising into the sky give it some life and the absence of people add to the desired mood, in my opinion.

I wanted to take this last post of the year to thank all of you who showed interest in my blog this last year! I appreciate your visits and supportive comments! They give me confidence to keep this going, not just to promote myself but because I feel like some things I say are actually useful to some of you and that makes it all worth while!

Happy Holidays everyone.

Redondo Beach plein air

Redondo Harbor plein air, 2010 by frank eberRedondo Beach Harbor, 2010
Posted in the California, USA gallery

I am very busy doing a huge mural in a private residence with four other artists right now. So unfortunately, there wasn’t so much time for my own art in the last two weeks.

I love going down to the King Harbor and painting there. It makes for incredibly complex scenes. There are so many boats, you cannot possibly paint them all in! The key is to pick one or two boats as the focal point. For all the others, I came up with this idea where I just drop in the colors I see, mostly in the wet-in-wet technique, and hope for the best! For some miraculous reason of watercolor, it seems to work. Of course I didn’t post the ones where it didn’t! Sometimes it just takes three or four attempts before you come up with a good one. It is all part of being a watercolorist. Oil painters have it a little easier, they can just go back and make endless corrections. But in my humble opinion, there is nothing like the luminosity of a well executed watercolor. When it works out, it just glows!

I was attracted to this scene because of the white sun protection strapped over the boat. It enhances the focal point because it creates a strong contrast and your eyes immediately go there. The A-shaped sail is the white of the paper!

This painting is approximately 10″x 14″ (25cm x 35cm) and was done in about 2 hours. One of the biggest challenges painting on location is finding a motif that will work. You can spend an hour or more wandering around looking for the perfect view and never find it! The more time you spend looking, the more anxious you get, so it makes sense to visit ahead of time and scope out the place. That way you already know where to go and what to paint once you make it out.