I found another great place to draw or paint close to home. It’s Fort Monroe. They have 400 years worth of history and some spooky places to explore. I wonder if the paranormal investigating team has been there yet. I only found it a few weeks ago.
This is about 1/3 of the battery. I want to do the rest and connect my sketches so I can do a panorama later. They have 3 batteries all different from each other but all spooky. They also have a great old oak tree over 400 years old. I need to draw that while it’s still alive, but it looks mostly dead now.
Fort Monroe was decommissioned in 2011 and made into a national park. It’s free and has plenty of parking. You can go around the outside of the fort / castle, or go around on the inside of the stone walls. You can even walk all the way around on the turrets. It has a mote and a lighthouse. And they have a great free museum, the Casemate Museum, if you like history.
This is a photo of the De Russy battery on the side facing the water.
My model is a sculpture by David Turner at First Landing State Park. I didn’t finish the sketch. The temp dropped and it started to sprinkle so I quit drawing. I might transfer this to another paper and go back with a few pastels and try to do a drawing with color another time.
This spot is good because I can get off the road without stepping in the tall grass which is home to ticks chiggers and snakes. They have benches and overlooks where you can be safe out of the grass. The marsh is on both sides of the road for miles and it’s beautiful all the way, especially with the Fall colors. This is the best time of year to see it but they close the road for 6 months so the humans don’t scare the migrating birds.
I’m getting better at riding my bike on the gravel road. I can avoid the bumpy parts. But I’m trying to think of a way to take paint in there on my bike so I can do it in color next year. I might fill up a book with charcoal sketches before I decide what to paint. I could take my plein air gear and paint at the Back Bay visitor center when the roads are closed because it’s real pretty right there at the parking lot too.
You have two ways to get into False Cape from Virginia Beach. First, is the road through Back Bay which is closing Nov.1, then there’s the beach. You can get there by boat, but a 3 mile walk on sand then the 3 mile walk back out would be too much beach walking for me to enjoy. Plus, the cape is around 10 miles long, so I’ll never get to the end of it on foot. I’ll go back down the East Dike Rd. on my bike in the spring. Then the West Dike Rd. will be open too. I’ve only lived at the beach for one year, so I haven’t finished scouting the whole area. There might be roads I can find leading in from North Carolina. It’s not very far.
And this isn’t the only beautiful marsh here. I’ll ride my bike down the Cape Charles trail as long as the weather stays mild. First Landing State Park with the Cape Charles trail is closer to home than Back Bay and False Cape, and open all year. There’s a pretty marsh at the end of that trail at 84th St. It goes on for a mile or so. I’ll never get tired of looking at the wetlands.
Twice when I was riding my bike down the east dike road, a flock of small birds with light colored bellies, maybe finches, I don’t know for sure, was flying back and forth over the road and marsh back and forth swooping and dipping or kind of zipping all around me. It was CRAZY! Almost like the Birds movie! I couldn’t see whatever bugs they were after, if they were going for bugs.
I think the road closes in Nov. so I want to go back this week.
This is my second try on a larger piece of sanded pastel paper. I think it looks better than the first one which I tried to draw on a smaller sketchbook. This time I took my easel and drawing board with the large paper instead of holding a sketchbook in my hand like I did on the first try. It’s easier for me to work larger. Compare this sketch to my previous post and tell me if he looks better this time. I’m not sure if the proportions are exactly right, but not too far off.
I thought the sculpture was by David Turner but it was done by his dad, William. I can’t tell their work apart. They both make the most beautiful wildlife sculptures out there.
It’s great to draw the Turner guys’ sculptures. I think I see some kind of attitude in my bird’s face, but that could be my imagination because I was only trying to copy the bronze, not put my own personality into the drawing. With all that beauty out there for me to copy it takes the pressure off an artist to be “original” all the time. And copying some other artist’s masterpieces is improving my drawing skill slowly but surely.
Even if an artist tries to copy as closely as possible, they still put information about themselves into the drawing. I can’t avoid it. The savvy art viewer will see it. Know what I mean?
My model is made of bronze. This is just a start. I couldn’t draw small enough to fit the whole bird on the page so I want to transfer it to a larger paper and go back tomorrow if the nice weather holds out. When I go back I’ll make some corrections. I’ll finish the feathers more and draw white feathers on him. I should look up eagles to be sure because the sculpture doesn’t have the white feathers colored white.
There are so many beautiful bronze animals around here. This one is at Norfolk Botanical. I bet they’re all made by David Turner. I love that guy’s work. At Seashore State Park they have a beautiful red fox in bronze which I also want to draw.
I’m one of those artists who think there’s nothing more beautiful than nature and it should be represented in art as closely as possible to reality.
Can you see those two pelicans flying away? I had my Bob Ross moment there, drawing those happy little birds.
I think that guy knew I was sketching him. He kept turning in my direction. I was almost finished with my sketch and he left. Then some foreigners came out with a giant arch shaped kite. The guy had a harness strapped on his body holding the kite strings. It looked like the girl was doing most of the work trying to lift the kite up to catch the wind then going after it every time it came down. He was yelling instructions at her in Russian or something.
The kite was coming down a little too close for comfort to me so I packed up and left. That happens sometimes when you go out sketching in plein air, you gotta move for some reason.
I drove to PA because they had the cone for the hurricane hitting Virginia Beach. They told people in sections A to evacuate. I live in section C but I decided to leave to avoid power outages and so I wouldn’t have to worry about my car getting flooded. As soon as I got to PA I heard the hurricane was going to hit farther South than previously thought, so I came back to the beach and the lights are still on. It’s windy but not scary here. It looks like we got lucky this time. And I enjoyed the drive to PA and back. The scenery is beautiful and traffic was light and fast.
The place I love most in my home county, (Lancaster) is Middle Creek so I went up there and got this sketch. After I got my sketch and was ready to drive out I saw a huge pheasant in the tall grass by the side of the road. He was just poking around in there and didn’t fly off when I drove past him. I saw him close up. He was a beauty with big red spots around his eyes.
Middle Creek is great for seeing wildlife. In the Spring you can see 100,000 snow geese if you go at the right time and get through a traffic jam on that little country road.
Can you see the little mountain foothill in my sketch is hidden by fog?
I’m anxiously awaiting fall because I bet this little tree gets bright red. It’s my new favorite tree at Norfolk Botanical and I want to do a big painting of it this fall. My sketch book is too small. The tree is much wider and I can’t draw small enough to fit it on this paper.
I’ll go back with a full sized piece of pastel paper and my easel and try to draw it the size I want for my painting. Even though I’ll have to wait a couple months for the colors, I can start planning the painting and do a practice pastel. The tree is pretty and graceful all year round.
I was standing on the shady side so most of the leaves are in shadow, but you can see bright leaves on the other side of the tree showing through. That’s why the branches look so dark, because they’re shaded. When I paint it I’ll check the light at different times of day and decide what time it looks best. The path is small. If I take my easel and drawing board I can get it out of the way if a lot of visitors walk through easier than I’d be able to move my little oil painting set up. Maybe I can do my pastel in plein air and later mix my paint colors there too, but I’ll paint it at home so I can use a large canvas and tape my paintbrushes to a yard stick again. That made me feel as if I can paint loose like an Impressionist.
I can’t decide. Are they like heads with legs coming out the sides and no bodies? Or are they like bodies with no heads and eyes on top? Anyway, they have a ton of personality.
Last week I walked barefoot on the beach at First Landing State Park a lot, maybe too much because my right foot got stiff. I soaked my foot in water with epsom salt and it’s ok now but I’ll probably stay off the sand for a few more days.
One day I took my sketchbook along and at the end of the beach close to the Fort Story fence I saw a bunch of holes the crabs made. Some were large holes for big crabs. I sat still on the sand for a while and a few crabs came out of their holes pushing sand out and making piles next to their holes. They looked at me. They must have 360* vision with their eyes on top. When I moved they were in their holes like a flash. I saw a couple big ones. They were probably 3 or 4 inches from tip to tip, running back and forth at the edge of the gently lapping waves of the bay. I wished I had a sardine to lure the others out of their holes to pose for me. They don’t stand still long so I did a couple sketches from memory. I think it might be a good drawing exercise to observe them then sketch them from memory.
I sat there for about 1/2 hour and got these sketches then a lady walking on the sand scared them all back into their holes, so I gave up on sketching. I’ll go back another time soon because I want to do a painting of the bay with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on the horizon.