Reworking Monhegan Headlands


After living with my “finished painting” for a couple of weeks, I decided I had to go back and rework some areas.  It didn’t seem to have the life in it that I wanted to capture.  It was close but it was a little too gray and muted, resulting from the gray undertones that I started with showing through and dulling it down. 

I just viewed and studied up close High Cliff by Winslow Homer at the National Gallery in DC.  In books I never thought the painting seemed that impressive but in person I understood why a relatively simple scene has been so acclaimed.  It has a richness to the colors and a boldness to the brushstrokes.  It has life in it. 

So I got back out the paints and reworked Monhegan Headlands.  I added a very thin glaze of a brighter, Winsor dark blue to the water.  Then I worked in some more sea greens where there was too much gray.  I added another small line of breaking waves off shore to add a little more life to the water.  The darker, richer water makes the white water pop.  I put some more highlights on the light brown rocks in the foreground and added some richer mid-tones to warm them up.  I took the palette knife to the gray rocks, added a bunch of texture and softened some of the dark edges. 

I softened the clouds and toned the distant clouds down a little to make them recede a little further.  Next thing I knew I reworked all of the clouds and the entire sky. Then I redefined the tree tops just a little.  All of this helped to lift the fog so to speak.  I took away a little bit of the gray day and made it a sunny day. 

Now when I sit and look at it, it reminds me of when we would sit on the rocky coast, breath in the salt air and how it would invigorate us.  Maybe having it dark earlier now and the gray days of winter coming, it made me want to put the sunshine back into my painting. 

It’ll all look even richer with the final coats of Damar Varnish.  Let me know what you think.  Thanks for following the progress of this painting.