This is part 2 of my 30×30 Direct Watercolor challenge recap, read part 1 here

The last week of my 30×30 Direct Watercolor Challenge sketches were inspired by a family adventure to Second Beach, just south of La Push on the Washington Coast, where we welcomed in the summer.

Sketching sea stacks, photo by Darin Reid

Sea stacks rose into foggy low light as I sat down to sketch. As an experiment, I completed both an ink and watercolor as well as a direct watercolor sketch of the same view.

Second Beach, 5.5″ x 17″ ink and watercolor in Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook

It was refreshing to hold a pen, I’ve missed it! I love working with ink, but here it was interesting to compare the mood of the sketches. While the pen was expressive, the watercolor was more evocative of the moment.

Second Beach, 5.5″ x 17″ watercolor in Stillman & Birn Beta Sketchbook

My young friend Finn joined me, borrowing my daughter’s Art Toolkit. Sharing art is one of my delights as an artist. An open sketchbook invites observation and connection.

Sketching with my friend Finn, photo by Darin Reid

I continued to sketch as we explored the beach.

Surf, 5.5″ x 8.5″watercolor in Stillman & Birn Beta Sketchbook

Each time I sat down, a young person usually joined me.

My daughter joining in, photo by Darin Reid
Southern end of Second Beach, 5.5″ x 8.5″ watercolor in Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook

At the southern end of the beach, I dove in again with pen, enjoying expressive marks.

Sketching on the beach

I intended to do a direct watercolor version of this one as well, but soon it was time to hike back to our tents. I decided I could revisit the subject in my studio.

Second Beach Sea Stacks, 5.5″ x 17″ ink and watercolor in Stillman & Birn Beta Sketchbook

Once home, I created a small series of studies. I missed pencil, but worked small, in a 4″ x 6″ format.

Sea Stacks, 4″ x 6″ watercolor

As I painted, I warmed up to the forms, light, and palette.

Fog in the Headlands, 4″ x 6″ watercolor

Open atmospheric landscapes have always resonated with me.

Fog light, 4″ x 6″ watercolor

The shadows in this final piece were my favorite elements.

Second Beach Sea Stacks, 4″ x 6″ watercolor

In the studio, I am accustomed to a degree of control and deliberateness where I paint with clean washes, specific shapes, and limited palettes. It’s a different process from my rapid, reactive field sketches. My field work very much informs my studio work, but so far the direct watercolor practice for me feels most suited to the field. Outside I can let go and let paint fly across my page, in the moment and in the elements. These observations and experiences, what I call my “palette of place,” then inspire and inform everything else I do. Thank you for joining my journey and experiments and stay tuned for my future projects!