Category Archives: First Landing State Park

Sailboats on Sand Dune / charcoal and chalk

The weather is improving. I’ve been getting out to sketch a lot more lately and getting a lot of sun. Today I sat in the shade of 2 big trash cans that only had a few empty cans. Tomorrow I might be in the sun because I want to go back to the overlook where I saw the guys kite surfing. They weren’t there yesterday or today, maybe tomorrow when less people will be there and it might be more windy.

When I was walking out next to the water a lot of people were on the beach and kids were making sandcastles and playing in the water. They were using pieces of horse shoe crabs in their excavations. I saw one small blob of a jellyfish on the beach.

I can’t get enough drawing practice. They told us drawing is more important than painting. And if your drawing is strong when you paint your painting will be strong. Is it better when you die if you’re remembered for being prolific in painting like Bob Ross, for example, or is it better to be remembered for your drawing skill?

I’d like to practice drawing boats but I doubt they’d let me hang around in a marina. I know where there is a canoe stuck in mud and broken. That would make a good subject but I was waiting for the crowds to thin out so I can have the place to myself, even if it is next to the road. It’s a country road with a canoe launch and guys fish there too.

Horse Shoe Crabs / Dead but not boring

charcoal and chalk

Today was a little bit of drawing waves practice with a couple dead horse shoe crabs for interesting subjects. First I sketched the one on the right. The wave wasn’t washing over it, I just wanted to try to fake it to make it look like it was. I had that drawn in and a dog DESTROYED IT! I thought, that thing got crushed real easily. They must be fragile.

Then as I was walking back out to the parking lot next to the water I saw 2 more. The one on the left was upside down and being moved by every wave so I carefully dragged it back up on the sand a little to sketch it.

How many legs do they have? I don’t know, a lot.

Seeing these dead ones makes me think, how many live ones are there? Could be thousands right in that area. What if you were in the water and stepped on a dead one and crushed it under your bare feet! EEEEEK!

What if you were in the water and a live one crawled on top of your foot?! EEEEEEK!!!

I never heard anyone say that happened but we can’t rule it out.

A lot of people were enjoying the bay.

Cypress Tree with Spanish Moss / charcoal

I’ve had my eye on this old tree off and on for a few years. It looks best in the late fall when the trees in the background get some color. It’s all too green right now. I want to paint it large so I don’t crowd the tree as much. The tree is in a good place to paint with a boardwalk through the swamp and a bench and enough space for an easel and people can still walk through. I might paint it in Nov. but I could start sooner. In Nov. the bugs won’t get me. I sprayed a lot of bug spray today and they were still buzzing around my head so I sprayed my HAIR! I hope I didn’t get bit but you don’t always feel it until later.

I have so many plans for paintings and still want to sketch more first. The one I was planning to do with Inktense pencils, at the overlook facing the bay with the dunes and boardwalk, that had wind surfers, I’m waiting for the wind to pick up again so those guys will be there with their brightly colored kites.

There’s another place I might sketch tomorrow if I get up early enough but that spot looks better in the afternoon. I can do my sketch in the morning and save that until it gets colder too. We had more hot and humid weather but tomorrow is going to be cloudy with less heat. Then the chance of rain goes up for a few days, then a little cooler. It’s been a long hot and humid summer. We had some haze from the Western wildfires but it’s so high in the atmosphere it doesn’t change our air quality. It makes pretty red sunsets though.

We have the Neptune festival coming up which I’m looking forward to this month, then the vacationers will thin out until Spring.

beach sketch and good news

The good news is that my granddaughter was born on Sept 4! She has a full head of dark hair. The baby is fine. My daughter is recovering but they’re not getting much sleep. I took a tuna noodle casserole over there and it was a big hit. She wants another tuna noodle casserole. I’m looking forward to baby sitting some time soon and eventually teaching my granddaughter how to sew and do art projects with her, bake cookies, shopping, etc.

The weather is much improved today. It was windy sunny and cool on the beach and some guys were kite surfing. I liked seeing the brightly colored kites on the sky. The end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is on the horizon.

The boardwalk over the dunes has some nice overlooks. I might transfer this sketch to water color paper and use my Inktense pencils to paint it.

scouting for plein air inspiration at the beach

sad and slightly gross

It was cloudy cool and windy out there this morning. I took my sketchbook, charcoal and a water bottle over to First Landing State Park. The sand wasn’t blowing because it’s wet. I sat on a ruined sand castle and was all set to sketch a flock of sea gulls but some other people flushed them up and they kind of hovered in the wind, which was real pretty. In the future I’d like to do bird sketches.

Every time I go out to walk I’m looking for inspiration. It’s easy to find and I always get a lot of ideas for future projects.

The water was choppy. Some guys were kite surfing.

Other than that, the only interesting subjects were a few washed up Horse Shoe Crabs. You can actually make a Horse Shoe crab look respectable with art, dignified even.

I’ll try for a sketch again tomorrow. That’s how it goes when you try to draw and paint in plein air.

quick sketch on the beach

The wind was whipping on the beach again yesterday but in town it was only breezy. I heard some cicadas as I was walking back to my car on the road through the campground at First Landing State Park. I don’t know if they are a part of the big bug invasion this year or not.

The water was choppy. This is the Chesapeake Bay. We don’t get big waves there. Some people surf at the ocean front but if I want to paint big waves with sunlight shining through the curl I might have to drive to the West coast because the waves here aren’t that big. I might go down to Back Bay to sketch waves this summer. The waves are a little bigger but you’re not allowed to surf there and there’s less people on the beach because no swimming either.

I watched a kid running up the sand with a boogie board and quick sketched her but then erased it because I knew I drew her too small. Since I was sitting on the sand everyone’s head was above the horizon line except the person sitting under the canopy and the dog. I like the figures from my position sitting on the sand because having them break up the horizon will make a better composition than if I’m standing and all the heads are on the horizon. That’s a little perspective fact I must have forgotten and remembered yesterday, about sitting down or standing up to draw a figure changes where the head will be on the horizon. I really want to practice painting wet sand reflecting a figure and sky with wet sand not reflecting and also waves. All those things will make it a very challenging project for me but I enjoy looking at paintings where an artist can paint waves and reflections convincingly and I didn’t do that yet. I should try to get more sketches this summer and possibly paint it when it cools down and we have less vacationers on the beach in the fall.

new dune sketch

Now that things are opening up and people are traveling more, let me invite any artist who would like a beach vacation to come here and draw and paint in plein air with me.

I’m not an organizer. You’d have to find your own hotel and food but I’d join you for meals or exploring too.

The plein air events are fun but expensive for a vacation. I’m not interested in making money off artists.

I don’t want to teach. I don’t care about your skill level or what medium you use or what style you fall into.

I’d start a group and not have any fee to join but that might not work since I don’t decide what I’m doing until after breakfast and checking the weather.

If you came to Virginia Beach and didn’t tell me, I’d be sad. If you want to come here, give me your email address in the comments and I’ll give you my number if you are serious about it.

I don’t need to tell you how the beach can help your stress go away.

a view from a yurt / charcoal and chalk

Another beautiful morning to draw in plein air!

First Landing State Park built 3 or 4 real nice yurts last year. The deck is higher than the dunes so you get a nice breeze through the big windows. This one was empty today so I sat on one of the big chairs on the deck to sketch. That’s the Chesapeake Bay and pilings and in the distance is the start of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, a marvel of modern engineering, in my humble opinion.

Some campers came up on the deck to check out the yurt when I was sketching. I don’t know what it costs to rent one.

They don’t have electricity which was a concern for the campers because if the wind dies down they might get hot but you can go underneath and the sand will be cool. They are roomy with a big bed and a trundle bed, table with 4 chairs and a couple smaller tables and a sofa. Outside they have a bunch of big chairs, and a picnic table on the deck which goes the whole way around the yurt. On the sand they have another picnic table and a grill and a fire pit.

It’s nice to sit on the deck and you could have a sunset view from there. This view would be better to paint in the fall because the morning light isn’t that great. I’m thinking of going back in the fall and try to sketch at the other yurts too then possibly do a painting from one of them.

Tomorrow I’ll go back to the spot where I was yesterday and start on my dune painting from Back Bay.

tidal pool with ship coming in / charcoal and chalk

The weather has been dismal here. We did get a little snow but mostly rain and it looks like more rain and cloudy weather for another week. I was glad to get another sketch of the tidal pool when the sun came out. It was cool with a little breeze.

It would be nice to see more snow than rain but the people around here don’t drive in snow very well.

I might try to paint this at home or I might do a sewing project but I needed another sketch first. This helped me visualize the bottom of the pool where the water runs back out to the bay and I made some mental notes of the colors I’ll need. It can be a limited palette. The vertical format isn’t going to work for a painting. I need larger paper. Some times I have to keep sketching before I can decide even simple things like horizontal or vertical. The pool looks too narrow here but I think I can use both of my sketches and fake it for the painting.

The ship had a lot of red on it. It was pretty on the gray blue water.

tidal pool / charcoal and chalk

This is what I decided on for my next plein air painting. I hope that pool doesn’t dry up. It looks like it will be easy to paint.

It’s going to rain again tomorrow, Mon. sunny and cold. I don’t mind cold but if it’s windy I can’t paint on the beach. Then more rain and maybe snow is coming for a few days.

The weather is keeping me at home too much. I started a flower painting and worked on it a few times at home when it was yucky out, maybe I can finish it tomorrow.

Today was beautiful outside for a change. Sunny and cool with a little breeze. A lot of people were enjoying the beach.