I Was Scared!

fear harbor masts reflections where to begin Aug 19, 2022

Well, okay. That might be a bit dramatic, but at the base of my emotions I was feeling fear. Granted, it might be a very silly fear, but that made it even worse!! I was afraid of the blank, white page in my lap. Even more so, I was afraid of the complicated scene in front of me.

It was a beautiful Friday afternoon - the day Santa Cruz Sketchers typically set out to different locations around town to paint together for a few hours. This Friday, we were at Johnny’s Harborside, a restaurant right by the yacht harbor. I was seated next to Wendy, an amazing artist (seemingly who has no fear), who whips out her beautiful paintings with speed, confidence, bright colors, and a definite panache... all traits to be greatly admired, and in the best of ways, even envied. 

Good grief, I thought to myself, "How in the WORLD, am I going to capture this scene of hundreds of masts and a mish-mash of boats, sitting in reflective water no less?!!" On top of it all, I knew this kind of fear/pressure comes from “performance syndrome” – a feeling I had to paint something “good” to feel "good" about myself. Ugh!! That REALLY bugged me!!! No Buono!

So what happened? Well...  as I sat there, I dumped all the emotional stuff. Or rather, I just chose to ignore my fear for the time being, and I tried to remember what I tell others. Look for the big shapes first. Oh dear! There were so many confusing shapes, I couldn’t really isolate any (even though I realize now that they WERE there). What I DID find were some strong verticals which gave me a starting point. I drew in the first pillar (with its reflection) closest to me. Then I drew the other two pillars. With these reference points in place, I started looking for the shapes attached to them. At this stage, it became more like working a puzzle... laying in one more piece (or shape) at a time, always checking its size, angle, and placement to the neighboring shape.

Lo and behold, it worked! By the time I added the dark values found in the horizon line trees, boat windows and water, it actually looked somewhat like the scene in front of me. Oh and remember all those confusing boat masts? ...I have no idea how many there actually were, but my very last step I used my white Uni-ball Signo pen and just kept adding vertical lines until it gave the feeling of lots of boats in the background. VOILA!

So my creative friends, my encouragement to you is to ignore the inevitable fear, keep paying attention to the shapes (starting first with some strong reference points if necessary). Oh! And don't forget to sit next to the “Wendys” for encouragement and inspiration!!

Happy Sketching & Painting!