Category Archives: Back Bay

Behind Dunes @ Back Bay / oils

I took these pix on my balcony in the shade but the colors are better in the sun, warmer.

Close up of sedge, reflections and water

Every time I go there the water is different so I decided that when I was ready to paint water I’d paint it however it looked that day. When I got there today it was almost calm then a little breeze came up but it only broke the water a little.

Water, sedge and reflections.

You can see grass stuck on the wet paint in these photos. It’ll come off when it’s dry.

Water with reflections, sedge, background trees.

I think the smoother textures of the reflections and water look good next to the heavy textures of the sedge and trees.

This was fun to paint and not too difficult. It used up a lot of paint, though.

Back of the Dunes painting update

The sky, background dunes and trees are finished. The water has one coat of paint on top of the underpainting but still needs another layer. The sedge is still in the underpainting stage. I need to work on the sedge before I finish the water.

It took a while to mix the colors I wanted for the gray and brown dunes. The greens were easier to mix but still took some time. When I get the right color I still take more time to work the paint by adding drops of Terpenoid and mixing it in until the paint is evenly runny. Mixing and working the paint is half the job.

A piece of cut grass is sticking to the wet paint but it will come off when it dries.

The real fun part is blobbing down the paint with my palette knife then smearing and scratching through it with the palette knife.

I’m excited about how this is going. I think it will work out!

The first 3 times I was there getting started on this, it was cloudy but the sun finally came out and really brightened the scene. I like the bleak look of the cloudy days, but the sedge is freakin’ gold with the sun on it. Maybe I can finish the painting this week. Tomorrow is supposed to be cloudy then we get more sunny weather for a couple days before it rains again, if the forecast is right.

Back Bay underpainting and wild sea oats

It was a little windy when I got out of my car and this canvas paper flipped out of the tape. The clamps kept it from flying down the parking lot. I got some fingerprints and a few pieces of grass in the sky when I added more tape. That’s ok. I need to go over it again anyway. When it’s windy I don’t stand up my easel, I sit on beach towels and prop it up on my beach cart.

A Great Blue Heron is hanging around in there every time I’m there. I saw him catch some fish. I was thinking of painting a heron in the scene since I have a few sketches of them. All I need to do is match the grays when I’m there in Plein air.

The whole scene is mostly gray and brown and blue but I’ll be able to brighten it up a little more than it is at this step. I don’t want to force color into it, though. Nature is elegant in its true colors even in the winter, as I see it.

I did this underpainting with brushes and some of the paint that was left over from my trip to Maine in Oct. was still wet enough to rework for this. The little blobs of left over paint were under squares of plastic wrap. I want to paint the next layers with a palette knife. I like the palette knife because I don’t have to clean brushes.

These are wild sea oats. Most of the fuzz is gone but they still look pretty by the road in the sun. I see a different variety in yards that still have the fuzz and they are shaped more like long ovals than these narrower wild ones. If I can pick one of the cultivated type without getting in trouble I’ll post it. I’m not sure if I can keep these long enough to sketch them. We’ve had a lot of cloudy weather and not too cold and not much rain. Wind is coming in soon with rain.

Canoe Launch Frozen / charcoal and chalk

It was a perfect day to draw or paint the water at Back Bay. It’s frozen! That makes it so easy! We had some big arctic wind and cold but not as bad as a lot of the country and now it’s back to normal for winter chill with highs in the mid 40s today and warming up more tomorrow.

A lot of people were there today. I sat in my car to sketch but if I do a painting I can use a bench right there.

This might be something I could paint in watercolor because it looks simple. I don’t know what I’ll do if the water gets wavy when it warms up.

It’s a monochromatic scene at this time of year, mostly gray.

I heard a big flock honking far away and couldn’t see them. I’ll try to remember to take my camera in case I can get a pic of them flying. I don’t know what they were, geese, I guess.

Pretty backwater at Back Bay / charcoal and chalk

This is a new plan for a painting at a spot I admired many times but thought it would be better in the winter because it’s next to a gravel road about 50 yards from the parking lot and in the summer a lot of people are walking or biking past. Today I had it to myself for a while and got started on the sketch. I need a larger paper or canvas and I might go back tomorrow.

It’s a little cold and windy but sunny and will be the same tomorrow but we have wind and rain coming in a couple days then it’s going to get colder.

You can’t tell much from this sketch. It’s the leeward side of sand dunes with rows of scrub brush and marsh grass and the water looks black. It’s not really black but the bottom might be. This water flows in and out with the tides. It’s kind of bleak. I bet I could paint it with only a few tubes of paint because I like the stark beauty of it and don’t want to force color into the scene. It’s mostly gray greens, white sand, blue sky and the sky reflects on the black water, and the sedge which is yellow ochre kind of. Painting the water might be a challenge.

I saw a lot of real pretty sea oats with the sun shining through them and was wondering if they would look good in a vase. They’re taller than me so I’d have to cut the tops off and bring them home. Then the sun won’t be on them unless I take them out back to the baseball diamond to paint a still life. That would be funny, setting my vase on something out there to paint it. People walk through all year but not tons of people.

And I’m not sure about that gravel road to this spot with the black water. They might close it when the birds migrate. That would be a bummer if I start a painting then they block it.

Right off the bat your Plein air artist has to make all these executive decisions, hahahah

Tiny Happy People Walking on the Beach / oils

This is a very long beach. Back Bay extends about 3 miles then you come to False Cape which goes on for even more miles. I think I can see over 1 mile, maybe 2.

I’m calling this one finished for now. I have a painting I worked on about 4 years ago that I’d like to rework. It’s another wave painting from First Landing State Park on the bay side. Since I have some of the colors left over from this one, I might go back to that dune on the bay and try to redo the old painting the next time weather permits.

That’s the closest my camera will zoom in. I painted these tiny people with the edge of my palette knife instead of a brush to try to make them fuzzy, out of focus, to give the illusion of aerial perspective. I think it’s working out, like, you would know those are people and not pilings. At 1/2″ these are the tiniest people I ever painted.

oops, this isn’t a good photo.

Darn it, the shine on the wet paint is showing. Oh well, you get the idea.

I went fast and loose on the sea today. It was fun.

All wave paintings I do are just one more step closer to the day I paint my wave masterpiece.

tiny people for my sand painting/ charcoal

That painting I’m working on of the beach, I don’t know if you noticed this but the composition isn’t that great. The sea points to the right on a sharp angle and the dunes point to the left on a wider angle. The only focal point in the picture is an empty horizon on the right of the canvas. At least the focal point isn’t in the center of the canvas because that would be even worse. The art viewer’s eye will go there and stop and you want the eye to go around the painting. I decided to put some tiny people in the picture far down the beach. That won’t make it good but I think it will be an improvement. The art viewer will have something to focus on.

I tried to put a 2″ figure in a painting a year or so ago and I thought it was weak. Larger figures are easier. I’ll try again. I have to decide if their heads should be below the horizon like today’s sketch or breaking the horizon or above the horizon. It depends on if the people are walking on the wet sand and I’m standing up slightly higher on dry sand.

What I’d really like to do is paint them a little fuzzy so it gives the illusion of aerial perspective.

I can’t go back tomorrow and then we have windy and rainy weather coming in. This is a bummer because I’d like to work on the painting. It was 42F. today (Cold, my Celsius reading friends) and a cool wind off the water. I didn’t want to stay long so I only took my sketchbook. I saw bare footprints in the sand and some of these beach hikers were wearing shorts. Must be some tough kids around here.

sand sea and sky update

It looks darker in this photo than it is in real life but this is a close up.

It was cool on the beach today with a good Northerly wind. The clouds were thin and moving fast with some haze. Only a few people were out there, one lady barefoot! I was facing South and my painting was on the sand leaning on my beach cart which I laid on its side. Sand could ruin my easel so I don’t take it out on the beach. The wind was to my back and I stayed for a couple hours. It’s not easy to carry a 24 x 36 canvas out there in the wind. I keep a grip on the cross bars in back but my knuckles are stretching the canvas out, if you know what I mean. Oh well, I’ll just call that a hazard of painting in Plein air. If I put a wire on the back and carried it by the wire the wind is strong enough to rip the wire off. Anyway, I get my exercise lugging my stuff over the sand dune. I can really feel the fat melting off my gluteus Maximus every time I paint on the beach. I’ll have to give this a couple days to dry before I paint the sea because the sea overlaps the sand and I want to make a thin glaze of sky color over top of the sand to represent wet sand. I’m excited because I think this might work out.

This is not showing the sandy colors I mixed either. It has some yellow ochre that isn’t showing in the photo. That’s actual sand on the bottom of the canvas.

One lady did stop to talk. The first question I always get is, “Do you sell your paintings?” I say no. If you paint in Plein air but don’t have a regular gallery to send a potential customer to, you should just say no to avoid more questions. People usually like to see an artist painting in their favorite spot. They want to know am I an amateur or pro, can they do this too, because it looks like fun. They say they wish they could paint and I say, “You can if you have the time.”

But some times you meet a person who acts suspicious, like a time I’ll tell you about. I was driving around down South some years ago and found my way to the Okeefenokee swamp. I stopped in at the visitors center for a map and was talking to the lady in there. I told her I’m an artist and saw pictures of how beautiful that swamp is and had my sketchbook in case I could get a good view. She told me, “You can’t sell your art in here.” I said, “No problem.” But this is one reason I just say no to the first question. If they think you’re “running business” on their sacred ground they will make you persona non grata. I’m not making this up. I sometimes think people ask me that question, do you sell or not, because they would expect a cut of the sale to go to the .org.

The next question would be, “Do you have a business license.” I heard that one long ago when I was sewing slip covers. No getting a sale without paying taxes! But the real rich guys make millions and don’t pay taxes.

Just let it be a hobby and everyone’s cool. Go pro and run into problems.

sand sea and sky underpainting / oils

It was so nice on the beach today, sunny and cool with a breeze from the South. The sound of the waves is relaxing. You hear it for a while then when you get into the painting you don’t notice the sound again until you take a break. There were only a few people. The peacefulness sticks with you for a while after you leave.

That’s why I want to go back to the old ways for this painting. When I use complimentary colors it seems to give the scene an angsty mood and I’d rather project the peace even if the colors are muted.

I mean, can I paint something more beautiful than nature? Impossible. so I might as well try to copy the colors and values of nature. That’s one thing I like about painting in Plein air. If I could capture that it would mean more to me than my experimentations with colors. Plus, it is kind of fun sitting there mixing colors and comparing to nature. Do I need this color to be lighter or darker, warmer or cooler. It’s a step most artists skip because the exact color isn’t the most important thing to them and they want to start painting already.

It’s a very simple scene. Even the waves looked easy today. They’re small. It’s a workout getting my art supplies out on the beach. The beach cart makes it possible but it always gets my heart rate up when I climb over the dune. Maybe it won’t take a lot of trips to finish this. I have some colors mixed up for tomorrow.

another try at sea and sky / oils

One of these days I’ll say, “Yes! I nailed it!” This is not the day but I don’t hate this attempt. Each try is getting me one step closer to my wave masterpiece which will happen some time before I die.

In the background you can see condos at Sandbridge about 2 miles up the beach and some waves far away. You can’t go past those pilings. That’s a restricted area for wildlife.

The pilings and shadows make arrows pointing down to the water. This close up shows where I’m trying to give the illusion of a thin layer of water on top of wet sand. It soaks in fast and some runs back out. That’s the sweet spot where you can see reflections of sky or maybe shore birds if they’re there.

This is a little rough because I wanted to do dry brush and try to make the painting fuzzy. I didn’t use any Terpenoid or medium.

You can see my brush strokes but I didn’t achieve the ultimate fuzzy effect that I’d like to get. I’m talking fuzzy like William Turner.

There are so many scenes that I have in mind to paint, I can’t just do waves, I’ll do other subjects and go back to waves at different times. No rush.