Sunday, January 13, 2008

January 2008 Art Newsletter

Derek McCrea's January 2008 Artist Newsletter
I completed a charity interior design project for Dianne Felton, a charity volunteer design project coordinator from Newport Beach, California. She was completing a project for a young girls room.
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December art newsletter part 11 Dunes


Dunes is my first watercolor painting of sand dunes on the beach. I had painted several sand dune paintings in oil and they are some of my favorite works. This work is available as an original and a fine art modern print.

This particular painting was inspired by a visit I took to Cumberland Island, Georgia. An old ferry boat surrounded by shrimp boats loaded up with me, my wife, my two children, my mother (a school teacher) and her students. This spot is an area of the Island that my wife, Sheila, thought looked very romantic as the trail opened up to the gorgeous view of the ocean and beach. I am from Georgia and have only been there once.

This part of Georgia is known as the Golden Isles and is comprised of Sapelo Island, Cumberland Island, St Simons Island, and Jekyll Island. There is a ferry that holds 60 people that departs and returns once a day to the island. I remember the island was very beautiful and one of the most tranquil desolate places I have ever been. The beach suffered less of mankind’s effects and appeared untouched. In the distance I could see wild horses throwing sand in the air, while racing down the beach..

There were no merchant stores or gas stations; no roadways; only the one ranger station that took good care of the sea turtles who returned to the same beach year after year to lay their eggs. The eggs then would hatch and return to the very same beach where they would continue the egg laying cycle started by their parents and grandparents.

I will never forget the several mile long beach side return trip back to the ferry boat at the end of the day. Me, being the only man of the bunch ended up carrying about 100 pounds of seashells in my rucksack for all of the students in my mom’s class. There is nothing better than a romantic walk on the beach while surrounding by tons of first graders. Other than that it was a pretty romantic, quiet day. After returning from the beach I had taken a picture of that favorite spot that my wife noticed over watching the beach and the sunset that beautiful day.
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Beach Watercolor Paintings

December art newsletter part 10 sunflowers 2

Sunflowers II

This painting has a very unique technique applied to create depth and texture for a watercolour. I began this work with a pallet knife and gesso applied to 140 lb stock Arches watercolour paper. The gesso was applied to create structure for the flowers and a diminishing background with less granulation. After the gesso dried I painted the watercolor normal but could not apply a wet on wet technique as the gesso absorbs the paint when applied. The paint applied over gesso created a 3D effect for the overall painting.

“Sunflowers II” is one of my first watercolours. I became accustomed to completing oil paintings and I used many oil painting techniques with this watercolor painting. Many people have told me this painting reminds them of Leonardo Da Vinci’s floral works. That was not my attempt, as I stated this is a very original work, the only one I know of that is watercolor over gesso.

I have always loved sunflowers. When I was younger I can remember my Grandfather taking me out to the sunflower field. It was 67 acres of sunflowers. I can recall bringing back several sunflower heads that were dried for baking in the oven. The rest of the sunflowers were harvested and sold at the end of the season.

Today in the grocery store we see organic this and organic that with the price of the items doubled because the products are organic. I was born and raised in a time and place where everything I ate was organic, on a huge 2,000 acre farm. Sunflowers remind me of good times and hard fu work while growing up on a family farm. One day I hope to have my own garden and grow my own favorite organic fruits, nuts and vegetables and sunflowers will be among that organic garden. 9 x 12 inches
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Sunflower Paintings

Beach Watercolor Painting

Dunes 3

This painting is an 18 x 24 inches original watercolor and is also available as a fine art modern print. It is a huge modern artwork of a beach nautical seascape. The foreground is high beach dunes. You can't see the beach but you know it is there! The location is Cocoa Beach Florida, while I was staying at the Ron Jon Surf Resort. Cocoa Beach is the nearest beach to Orlando, Florida the city that hosts Disney World and Universal Studios.

While driving down A1A in Cocoa Beach there are certain areas where the land has been purchased by large companies and you can not view the dunes from the road. This spot is a place road side where you are very close to the beach right off of A1A and this is a view from the street as a tourist would see while passing by. There is little undisturbed beach front property remaining in Florida.

Brevard County, the county for Cocoa Beach is the home of three time surf champion, Kelly Slater. This are is also the place where the TV show “I Dream of Jeanie” was filmed. This particular painting is a scene only a few feet from “I Dream of Jeanie Lane”. I personally loved that show when I was growing up. Brevard County is also the home of Cape Canaveral Florida where NASA launches the space shuttle and other numerous rockets.

My intent with this painting was to be very basic. Very little is sometimes just right, especially when it comes to watercolours and keeping the look soft. The sand on these sand dunes feels like baby powder under your feet and I tried to replicate that in the work. The darker shades of beige in the sand are light damp spots from dripping from the overhead sea oats and shadows. The sea oats are also a protected plant. The reason that the sand dunes are high is they protect the land from the erosion caused by high energy blasting waves especially during the hurricane season. The sea oats in the sand assist in providing stability for the earth to provide a natural barrier for the elements and the ocean. 11 x 14 inch fine art print 25 plus 7 shipping.

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Beach Watercolor Paintings

Blue Ridge Mountain landscape watercolor painting

Blue Ridge Mountains

I completed this painting while living in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The painting is from a trip I took to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Many people each year travel here to this spot to watch as the leaves change colors in the fall. While a traveler camps out over the period of a 3 to 4 day weekend they can wake up each morning to see a difference in the colors of the nature around them. The color change is that noticeable.

During the travel to this location we had elk eating in the fields beside my truck and we stopped and stood within feet of the elk. The road offered wondrous cliff side views that took my breath away. Although my wife seemed frightened by my driving so fast and close to the edge I was not afraid unless we came up on some black ice. I learned while living in Germany not to underestimate black ice on the roads in the winter as it forms in the shady parts of the road where the sun does not melt the water drainage turned ice form the night before.

The painting replicates both an impressionistic and a realistic scene as the real thing is not much different from this painting; that is how beautiful this natural mountain range is. Flowing hilltops and sinking valleys where the treetop horizon flows smoothly as though a cloud on the ground. In this scene in fall it is morning and my windows are filled with leftover dew from the night before.

The mountain range is at such a high altitude I am unsure if this is clouds I am seeing amongst the valley or is this fog? I find out later in the day as the fog lightly lifts away and clouds remain amongst the terrain. The morning sun is to my east, my right as I am looking over a cliff at this fabulous site. 9 x 12 inches
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Landscape Watercolor Paintings

Daisies watercolor flower painting

2 Daisies

2 Daisies marks the beginning of my floral close-up whimsical impressionistic series of paintings. This painting fits nicely in a bright, colorful room to make the room even more bright and colorful. I used the wet on wet technique for painting this work and it is my first daisy painting also.

The brilliant splashing effect and cool colors in the background promote the mix of whites and light grays composing the flowers in the foreground. The sunflower buds are a mix of wet on wet yellows with orange and raw umber mixes applied to the wet yellow. The key to this technique is not having wetness on any of the outside of the flower bud.

When painting wet on wet I keep the portions I do not wish to be affected dry. Watercolours are indeed magical when working wet on wet and they have their own identity. You can never replicate an image that was painted wet on wet; not even the artist themselves.

9 x 12 inches original painting
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Flower Watercolor Paintings

Tybee Island Lighthouse

Tybee Island Lighthouse

Created in 1732 the Tybee Island Lighthouse stands watch over the seas near Savannah, Georgia. The lighthouse is only several hundred meters from the ocean. Half way between the ocean and the lighthouse, on the beach, there is a cabana where romantic weddings occur as a local tradition. The historic site brings out the romance during weddings and many visits by tourists each year.

To me this painting symbolizes the lighthouse as the watcher and protector for the seamen. For centuries this lighthouse has provided a landmark for navigation for fishermen and sailors coming to the New World. Imagine how many lives the shining beacon that lighted the path back to land has saved.

The Tybee Island Lighthouse is by far the most powerful architecture structure on the beach. Travelers feel the wind in their face and the sand on their feet as they talk relaxing walks down the beach shoreline. Wherever you are on the beach the lighthouse is in view. The lighthouse has over watched weddings; romantic walks, and watched patiently as times have changed over the centuries. It stands tall as a monument for pride and freedom.

I have seen many lighthouses and this one is by far my favorite as the mood is so romantic at this location. It is near Savannah, Georgia, another historical city where you can still visit the past. I painted this painting en plein air on Tybee Island. As I painted the painting 2 weddings occurred at the site. Notice the sky in the painting. I captured a realistic view of the sky on that cool fall Saturday evening. The tree is black for a reason. The sun was setting in the east over the Atlantic Ocean and the palm tree appeared black. The palm tree is actually painted with India Pen and Ink utilizing a quill. When I look at the painting today I remember clearly the relaxing feel in the air, and am reminded of the feeling of love and commitment surrounding me on that day. 11 x 15 inches limited edition print 32 dollars
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Lighthouse Paintings

Poppy burst flower modern art watercolor painting

Poppy Burst

An art customer asked me recently, “Derek, how can a hardened combat veteran demonstrate such passion in art?” Many have misconceptions about Soldiers. Soldier support agencies and family members keep the Soldier’s heart alive. To be successful you have to use the carrot/stick approach, a fighter with one hand and a helper with the other.

This floral to me represents the soft romantic side that everyone has; they just have different ways of showing it. Not many people wake up; look in the mirror and say, “I am going to be a bad person today.” Generally I believe most people are good but have different beliefs and are motivated by different things. Notice I said “most people”. For the life of me I cannot begin to perceive the thought process or reasoning of a terrorist. I pretty much understand everyone else.

The poppy to me also represents life. A flower may only live for a few days, or maybe a week or two. During that short lifetime the flower blooms and takes full advantage by being wide open during the majority of its life. People should do the same. Too often I see small problems or even large problems take control of someone’s life and affect their future and well-being. I try to reflect on this when I have a problem and what I tell younger people is that they will live to 70-80 years old. You are young and have a long time to live. One year from now this problem will seem like nothing. Carry on and take full advantage of life, like the flower.

While painting this floral I used a series of different techniques to create depth and texture; a hard thing to do with watercolors. I also used pen and ink and charcoal to complete this work. I never paint when I am upset. I woke up with this image in my head and grabbed a brush and did not stop until I was complete. This painting was painted while I was in a high energetic spirit inspired by the poppies beautiful bloom and contrast red colors. View or purchase this art at my gallery at
Watercolor Paintings

Wild grapes still life watercolor painting

Wild Grapes

I completed this work in winter 2001 while doing an exhibition at Chateau √Član Vineyard in North Georgia, USA. The vineyard kept bringing me different kinds of wine as I kept creating personalized commissions for customers. It was a very fun weekend. This particular painting represents the balance I add to my life through art and combining art with memorable experiences.

Art adds balance to my life. Everyone needs balance in his or her life to alleviate the inevitable daily stressors involved in the hectic world. To add balance in my life I spend as much time with my family as possible and have various hobbies that take my mind away. My hobbies that help create balance in my life and help me relax include art, cross country hiking, salt-water fishing, and competition archery.

Grapes serve multiple roles as a fruit and also a base for fine quality wines. I only paint when I am inspired and in a good mood. Basically any time off of work I am in a good mood. Not that I do not like my work, it is just that I try to take full advantage of my time when I am off of work. I have never been the type to sit around on a weekend off. While painting this work the wine was whispering as though it was a compass in my head calling me to have a drink of all the different types of wine the Chateau √Član Vineyard offered.

Grapes = Wine = Romance. Every time I see grapes I think of wine and when I think of wine I think of romance. I think that society has given wine that image. Sweet, soft red wine simply melts in your mouth and tantalizes your senses. The beauty of red grapes and wine compliment the desirable atmosphere for romance 9 x 12 inches ---SOLD---

Sandy Hook Lighthouse New Jersey Painting

Sandy Hook Lighthouse

I was approached to paint this as a commission in 2004, and could not turn down the opportunity as it is one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the United States and the surrounding original architecture adds to the beauty of the lighthouse. I painted this original painting for a member of the New Jersey Lighthouse Society, Salvadore Trentacoste. I now have fine art modern prints available of this magnificent nautical lighthouse. View or purchase this art at my gallery at

The Sandy Hook Lighthouse is the oldest working lighthouse in the United States. The light shines into the New York Harbor and although it sits in New Jersey it’s purpose revolves around both states.

When painting this work my goal was to capture the off whites and maroon colors in the homes and the lighthouse. The colors maroon and white softly emulate nautical themes. The whites in the home and the lighthouse have not been spared by the elements of the Atlantic coast. Although the lighthouse has been restored you can still view the beauty of its architecture in an age of beauty.

This work was one of my first large realistic watercolors. The piece is a perfect mix of realism and impressionism and the size of the original is a huge 22 x 30 inches. Natural beauty in architecture, in my eyes, cannot be replaced by newer architectural constructions. Lighthouses are one of the many standing historical architectural structures that are receiving preservation. While reflecting on this painting it reminds me of our responsibility to maintain and preserve the natural and man-made beauty of nautical lighthouses. 11 x 15 limited edition print.
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Arizona Evening desert watercolor painting southwestern

Arizona Evening

I have lived in 7 different countries stationed in the military and have captured the beauty in art in many places. One of my favorite themes is Southwestern Art. Arizona Evening is a scene I painted while in Arizona visiting the Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert. The colors and stillness of the desert is a beauty that I never imagined. There is life in the desert. The land, cacti, and mountains cry of an ancient past.

The ground in the desert of the American Southwest is home to a lively history: Indians, Cowboys, Outlaws, and are home to many ancient mysteries. The plants of this desert survive from very little water over long draughts. Arizona is the home of Tombstone, mystical Sedona and the Grand Canyon.

This particular painting is of the Sonoran Desert in southwestern Arizona. The red colors in the sand mimic the mystical colors and vortex powers in the city of Sedona. The Saguaro Cactus shown in the painting stands for the longevity and power of the desert. The cactus can grow up to 50 feet in height where birds over watch the landscape.

The Ocotillo Cactus is in the foreground and drawn in black with pen and ink. The sun setting in the west turns this dark green plant into a black plant when viewed from the east. This particular scene is in wintertime. In the summer months the Ocotillo blooms red gorgeous flowers.

To me the desert shows a different part of the world than from where I am accustomed. Initially, when I moved to El Paso, Texas, I honestly thought what is there to do here, in the desert? While living in the southwestern United States I saw first hand why people love it there. It is beautiful year round, the people are uniquely genuine and nice, and everywhere you turn you are standing on top of history, exciting history. The desert also reminds me of the American Indian, the first American, who I have immense respect for. In the southwest you experience the unique, genuine lifestyle of the American Indians and it is a peaceful enlightening experience I will never forget. 18 x 24 inches original southwestern large desert modern art painting
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Southwestern Watercolor Paintings

Waves surf art watercolor painting seascape


I lived in Satellite Beach, Florida when I completed this painting. In May 2007, there were numerous major tropical storms off of the Atlantic Coast of the United States. One of my past time hobbies is saltwater fishing. While fishing one day I noticed the beauty in the crashing waves and horizon as the storm was approaching the beach. I was drawn to paint this scene as the natural seascape’s action energized my senses.

I started the painting by using the wet on wet technique with the sky. Watercolors are magical in their ability to create effects that can not be duplicated. I love doing wet on wet as the end result is a one of a kind work. Where the ocean meets the sky to the southeast a storm is approaching, causing medium winds and crashing waves. If you have been to the beach you know what rain looks like at a distance. You can not see the rain, but you can see the change in color near the horizon. And you ask yourself, “Is it headed this way?”

There is nothing I love more than capturing nature’s beauty. Imagine the sound of crashing waves and seagulls, the smell of the salt air, and the wind on your face. This is what I feel when I look at this painting. I remember good times on vacation when this atmosphere alone makes everything ok. It is just me and the ocean, no one else, no worries.

I grew up in a small town nowhere near the ocean. When I was younger I would go to the beach and immediately feel a happiness I can not describe in words. Even now, that I live just blocks from the beach, I still go on romantic walks in the evening on the beach and nothing in the world compares to the emotions created by the attraction of the sea. I have and always will be a romantic. 22 x 30 inch large watercolor 799 dollars plus 20 for shipping and insurance.
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Beach Paintings

Indian Blanket flower paintings

Indian Blanket - flower paintings

This painting is the Indian Blanket wildflower flower painting, also known as Fire Wheel, or Blanket Flower. While living in El Paso, Texas I was told by many locals in New Mexico that this wildflower is a favorite to the Aztec Indians. After further research I found this to be true. This wildflower is also the state flower of Oklahoma. The Kiowa Indians thought the Indian Blanket wildflowers brought good luck. This flower painting has very attractive and magnificent colorful blooms.

According to history, the name Indian Blanket came from when ancient Aztec Indians wove a blanket with the colors brown, red, and yellow for his or her burial. The following spring the grave was covered with beautiful flowers in the same colors of the Indian Blanket.

The beauty of nature is only intensified by this flower’s spectacular colors. The flower weaves a field with vibrant color as though part of an illustration in a children’s storybook. As each pedal blows with the spring air you can feel the power of nature embracing your soul.

I was inspired to paint this painting by the history of the first American people, the Indians and their natural living experiences in the Southwestern United States. The beauty of the landscape in New Mexico and Arizona is scattered with the Indian Blanket wildflower. Otherwise boring roadside fields are woven in brilliant wildflowers, of which the Indian Blanket is my favorite.
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Flower Paintings