Blue and rust

Today I thought I’d post both sketch and final painting for a scene that I painted in studio today. Actually the sketch was done last night but I wanted to wait until the morning to start the larger painting. The only problem with having an idea for a painting at night is that I dream about painting it all night!

The scene was one I saw at Lovric’s Shipyard in Anacortes, Washington, this past summer. As my friends who live there know, I could paint in that places for weeks. It’s an endlessly fascinating hive of old boats, piles of rusty stuff, big skies, distant mountains and reflections. All the stuff I love to paint.

On my studio table I had a dirty palette with some Indanthrene Blue leftover in the wells so I dashed off a quick sketch on a block of Winsor & Newton paper. It seemed from the sketch that the painting could work, and painting it smaller helped me establish a value pattern.


Since this is a scene where texture is important, I selected a sheet of 16″ x 20″ Two Rivers cold press paper. The drawing took some time but getting everything in the right place is important in a scene like this. When it was time to paint, I knew I wanted to keep a dominantly blue colour scheme, but I also wanted to contrast all that blue with some warmer tones, especially in the centre of the painting where all the detail is. I used lots of Burnt Sienna mixed with Transparent Pyrol Orange for those rusty bits. And as you can imagine, I had a great time painting all the details.


42 Comments on “Blue and rust”

  1. Miss Iowa says:

    This is lovely! The contrast of the rust against the blue is divine. And that yellow beam! Beautiful.


  2. This and everything you do , I wish my work when I sketch is so not like yours ! says:

    I love


  3. Ruth Kaldor says:

    Would be interesting to see the photo next to the painting. I always have a hard time with photos, being able to just interpret the scene.


    • I have a hard time with that too Ruth. When you are used to plein air painting, I find it hard to get the life back in a scene from a photo, but It wasn’t as hard with this one. There is a good video online of Ian Stewart showing how he paints from photos. You should check it out. He’s really good and seems to have a knack of working well from photos.


  4. Alison says:

    Superb! Love the abstract quality. The sky is so simple, yet so atmospheric — not an easy or obvious thing to achieve. Thanks for sharing your process! It’s always interesting and instructive.


  5. ddudovick says:

    Love it, the sky wet and loose contrasted by the exquisite detail.


  6. This is a wonderful, dramatic scene. You are a constant source of inspiration and amazement.
    I only wish we could view your painting up close and full size!


  7. Bernadette says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! The sky is magnificently done and full of emotion. This is not a scene I would ever choose to draw or paint and because of that, I am all the more impressed.
    Thank you.


  8. -N- says:

    You caught the atmosphere of Anacortes perfectly – damp, misty, rusty, beautiful, ugly.


  9. miatagrrl says:

    That sky is magic! And so is everything else.

    – Tina


  10. anne farmer says:

    Fantastic! I love rusty things, too. The composition is great with the slab of ship to lead you in.


  11. Carol Cooney says:

    You must be tired from all that dreaming and painting. lol The detail is exquisite. The eye stops to enjoy more when colour is added. TFS.


  12. Judy Sopher says:

    This is a wonderful color theme. I am working on a small painting of a trailer carrying a jeep and lots of old buildings. Been wondering how to make it more colorful and where to go. The idea of a blue theme with bits of rust and yellow really work for your painting.Would love to be able to do this.

    I also love your subjects. Are you saying the first picture is a “quick sketch”? Really?


    • Judy, the first picture took me about 15 minutes. No details in it at all.
      As for you, add some rust and yellow to your trailer painting. Sounds like an interesting subject that I would probably draw too.


  13. Ellen Jenkins says:

    So interesting to see the sketch and then the painting! Lovely! Warm colors transform the blues to lively with so much interest and personality. After preparing the sketch, do you paint from the sketch and memory, or also frequently refer to the photograph? Do you most often use a watercolor sketch for a value study rather than black/white sketch? Thank you so much for sharing your work!


    • HI Ellen. Good question about the sketch and the photo. I had them both sitting on the table in front of me. I used the sketch for the big shapes, composition and values. But I was glad I had the photo hanging around for all the details. I don’t often do a full colour sketch but I felt that this one was important and required more thought than just working with pencil.


  14. angmacleod says:

    Oh my, you nailed that! Colours are stunning!


  15. Ineke says:

    What a wonderful and intriguing painting with such amazing detail and colours. I am always in awe of what you are able to create!


  16. John says:

    Both your sketch and the larger work are brilliant! Love them both, really stunning!


  17. Monique says:

    What a difference between the two..I love the yellows eye is drawn smack to the middle.Wow.


  18. Frank Bettendorf says:

    Wonderful paintings! What would it take for you to come back to Anacortes? Frank B


    • You wouldn’t have to twist my arm too hard to get me back to Anacortes. The only tiny problem is that I have a full time teaching job. But I would really love to visit every summer if I could. I promised my friends I would be back in 2019.


  19. I’m glad you are someone who can see beauty in the rust. Well done!


  20. Hariette Christian says:

    What a lovely painting! V brave of you painting
    a potentially dull scene and making it so lively & interesting- gives a real feel of the atmosphere and the all the differing textures in the scene. Amazing.


  21. Missy Walsh-Smith says:

    Seeing these Lovric’s paintings just makes me want to have you here! In fact, I could have sworn I saw you walking down the street the other day😀. Love these!


  22. tmikeporter says:

    One of my favorite towns for similar reasons. You’d also like spending time on the San Juan islands, especially Lopez which is very rural and a bit funky. Nice harbor as well.


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