Early morning light, very early

On my last morning in Rockport I woke up really early and decided (even before coffee!) to tackle a full painting of a scene that I had sketched a few days earlier. It’s funny how the brain works. Six days earlier this seemed too complicated to paint (rusty painting skills, rusty drawing skills, not relaxed, etc.) but after a week of painting every day I was ready to attempt it. When I sketched the scene the previous week my intention was the same — to create a focus on the buildings just after sunrise when they are at their brightest. With a multi-layered scene like this (traps in the foreground, boats in the middle, houses and trees further back) a limited palette seemed to be the best way to achieve the type of unity that I wanted.

I haven’t used much Raw Umber or Burnt Umber recently, mostly because they dry up and get too hard in the palette but I had them in my paint bag and squeezed out a blob of each. When you use them fresh they are very granular and wonderful. Almost gritty in texture. Along with a dab of Ultramarine and some Cobalt Violet, that made up the limited palette.

The scene was remarkably different a few hours later when I put my brushes down. The light was not quite as sharp and most of the boats had made their way out into the open water. Painted on Saunders 140 lb CP, 15″ x 11″.


37 Comments on “Early morning light, very early”

  1. TonyU says:

    Special moment, special painting. Beautiful colours, beautiful patterns. Coffee must have tasted so good afterwards!


  2. Lori says:

    Wow, Shari, you create such magic with a limited palette! I always look forward to seeing your work


  3. Denise Gowan says:

    Shari, I LOVE this!! Your style is so beautiful and distinct… I feel like I could choose your work out of an array of paintings!! Thank you so much for taking the time daily to share with us. I love reading about your decision points: which colors you use; how you’ve chosen to capture the scene; what were the challenges, etc!! I am inspired daily by your work.
    Warm regards, Denise


  4. monique says:

    I cannot even wrap my brain around the homes..the boats ..the reflections..Wow.


  5. Love it Shari, that warm shadow color is really give the early morning feel! the 5 layers or coulissen are such a pleasant feature, it sucks you into the painting!


  6. I love the depth with the traps in the foreground, the boats in the middle and the houses and trees in the back. The limited palette worked really well for this. Great job showing the morning light on the houses and the boats.


  7. OMG, this is so beautiful Shari!


  8. Tom Roache says:

    Absolutely beautiful and amazing.How do you get to Rockport and where do you stay.I do wish you would share your drawings skills with us with a book or video. Amazing


  9. Jeff Gold says:

    As always, your control of color and values make this sing. Also the rhythm of the house windows, boat windows and trap shadows give it just the right amount of salt and pepper variety. They really enhance the flavors; the warm touches of warm color spread through the composition are also very “tasty”.


  10. Soni McFarland says:

    Ohhh yummy new colors !!! These are a wonderful combination. About paints drying up, I love Winsor/Newton Raw Sienna but it’s like a rock in 3 days too. I really appreciated your take on analyzing the right time to tackle complicated scenes. It helps to reinforce my courage for tackling them in the right frame of mind. Another great painting of yours to enjoy and study.
    Thank you.


  11. Janice Kelly says:

    Wow! Now that’s what I’d call a full page.


  12. Dee says:

    All I can say is…awesome!


  13. Judy Sopher says:

    Shari this is incredible. Maybe I like boat scenes or purple but this is one of your best. I want to try that limited palette.


  14. Russell says:

    Hi Shari. Its simple, clean, and wonderfully done. BTW, say “Hi” to Tony for me when you see him in England.


  15. rosjenke says:

    Definetly captured that early morning glow with that palette 👍👍 I’ve been using Winsor and Newton pans and the colours are so much easier to rewet than tube colours that have dried. Raw and Burnt Umber included.


    • In pans? Ok, that makes sense Ros. I have a set of Winsor Newton pan colours with some Burnt Umber in there and it’s quite creamy. But I have to admit that if I want really dark colours, the tubes still work better for me. I’d rather squeeze out a blog of fresh paint and use that instead of diluting pans.


  16. Connie Renaud says:

    Your composition is beautiful and so inspirational. Thanks for sharing!


  17. mariancolman says:

    Hi Shari,
    I was in Rockport yesterday and saw some of your prints in the window of a shop on Tuna Wharf. The shop was closed, but next time I go I want to stop in and take a closer look. I have my eye on one in particular that I love. Don’t think you titled them, or maybe you did? I was with my young grandchildren so it was a bit chaotic!


    • Hi Marian,
      Yes, Four Winds Pottery sells prints of my work but they are not always open. If you go on the weekend it will be open for sure, especially in July and August.
      They are not titled but they are signed and numbered.



  18. andycjackson says:

    Shari, what could I add that hasn’t been written , so very uplifting to look at …..like a Mozart concerto !


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