Friday, February 24, 2017

Mixed Media at Cannon Beach

2/21/17 water-soluble colored pencils, ink

Possibly our favorite place on earth, Cannon Beach is where we return as often as we can. No matter what is happening elsewhere in the world or in our country, visiting this tiny spot on the Oregon Coast revitalizes our souls and puts everything into perspective. I stand next to monolithic Haystack Rock and feel as small as a sand fly. Then we hike a mile or two down the beach, and Haystack isn’t so huge. We drive to the next beach and look back at Haystack, I see that it’s just another speck on the Pacific’s shoreline, where waves have been crashing in and pulling back out for millennia. At Cannon Beach, I always feel small yet whole.

This week was our fifth visit since I began sketching. Watercolor seems like an intuitively natural medium for capturing water views, so it’s always been my go-to. But the past several months I’ve been focusing almost exclusively on colored pencils, so I decided to leave my watercolors at home. When I was packing, I almost put my watercolors in, “just in case,” but I didn’t want to fall back on an easy old habit. It was an ideal opportunity to face a beloved, familiar landscape with new media.

From the comfort of our oceanfront hotel room (which I was grateful for, since the temperature was down in the 30s), I made my first sketch of Haystack with water-soluble colored pencils (above), which are wonderful for getting both rich color and texture. It helped that the sun came out long enough to put in some shadows. When I got to the partly cloudy sky, however, I switched to ink in a waterbrush. I just haven’t figured out how to make a sky look good with dry pencils (that’s my class homework from last week that I haven’t finished yet), and adding water tends to get streaky.

Later in the day I decided to try the layering techniques I’ve been learning in class using traditional (dry) colored pencils (below). I spent only about an hour on this 4 ½-by-6-inch, not the several hours I would have spent on a class exercise, so I wasn’t able to achieve the depth of tone and hue that I strive for (the overcast sky kept all the shadows away, too). Still, I was mostly happy with the textures (not that gravelly sky, though. . . I have to get to the homework!).

2/21/17 colored pencils

Prepared for rain, I sketched in my waterproof Expedition
notebook (sans glasses!).
 Maybe the most fun I had trying a new medium at the beach was when we thought the rain would continue to come and go as it had all morning. Pulling on my raincoat, I left my bag in the hotel room and stuck only a graphite pencil and my waterproof Expedition notebook in a pocket. Instead of more rain, the sun came out, so I pulled out my tools for a sketch – and I realized my glasses were still in my bag back at our room! No way was I going to hike back up the hill to get them. Not being able to see my small sketchbook well pushed me to stick to the large shapes and tones (below) – and I discovered what a joy it is to use a soft graphite pencil on that crazy Yupo paper! My Mitsubishi Hi-Uni 8B pencil is like velvet on that strangely toothless paper. It’s my designated sketchbook for inclement weather – but who knew I’d enjoy it even in sunshine?

2/22/17 8B graphite pencil, Field Notes Expedition notebook

2/21/17 ink
I also had enormous fun drawing tiny beach-walking stick figures casting shadows and reflections.

During low tide we explored the tidepools surrounding Haystack, where I sketched a variety of anemone, barnacles and other critters clinging to rocks. On a visit in 2014, I had sketched some colorful starfish but didn’t seen any this year, so I asked an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staffer about them. He told me that a virus had attacked 98 percent of the starfish on the Pacific Coast during the past few years, and they are only just now beginning to make a slow comeback.

In any weather, in any season, in any medium, Cannon Beach is still one of the most beautiful places on earth. See my posts from previous visits.

2/21/17 brush pen, water-soluble colored pencils

2/21/17 brush pen

2/22/17 colored pencils
2/22/17 colored pencils, ink
Chilly beach

2/22/17 ArtGraf water-soluble graphite pencil


  1. I love when you go there and sketch the rocks. It reminds me of Morro (?) Rock along the northern CA coast. These are all great to see in a different media than you've used there before. My favorite is the one done in graphite on yupo. I didn't know that would work. lol Super sketches, Tina!

    1. Thank you, Joan! I am always inspired by Haystack, no matter how many times I see it!

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you! I like seeing how many people I can draw on one page of my tiny pocket notebook!


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