Category Archives: plein air

painting update and wildlife report

I’m excited that I got this far with the painting and might be able to finish it soon! Not tomorrow or the next day though, because they’re calling for cloudy then rainy weather. I might be able to work on it at home a little. Today I got as far as starting on the reflections.

omg. Can I save this?

I’ll be mad at myself if I can’t paint a decent figure in that spot. My first layer of gray was so bad I had to scratch off the texture from the water that was showing through and it was kind of blotchy. Then I tried to paint a layer of glazes to start again on my dude but the texture was still showing so I scratched again. The glaze bled a little, now the edges look fuzzy. I’ll have to paint the man with my palette knife. I thought a brush would make it easier because he’s small and it’s hard to paint detail with the palette knife, but now I can see if I don’t paint him with the knife he’ll look weak next to the rest of this heavily textured painting and he’ll visually recede. This is the kind of problems you have when you’re trying to paint something and you don’t exactly know how to do it. It might work out or it might be a total waste of time. Too soon to tell.

Wildlife- bird

This crazy cormorant popped up out of the water like a shot and then flapped around so much it looked like there was a fountain out there with all the splashing! Then he went back under and again popped up with much splashing . He was going under and popping up so fast and with so much drama, flailing about, I was getting a little concerned about him. Then a minute later he stopped doing that and acted like nothing was wrong.

Wildlife- human

A man stopped to talk to me and we had a nice conversation. He’s from PA too so naturally we talked about pretzels and cheese steaks. He told me things I didn’t know about Pleasure House Point, like just recently someone had a gender reveal party there and they sprayed colored plastic confetti all around. The idiots. The gender reveal parties around here get really destructive sometimes. There’s a reward for info leading to the arrest of the perps.

That man had me cracking up with his enthusiasm for pretzels and cheese steaks! I’m going to go where he recommended to try the cheese steaks tomorrow. He took this pic and emailed it to me and is sharing the pic so maybe I’ll get famous around here soon!

Clouds Rolling in Over Pleasure House Point / update

I went over the clouds again, the background trees, the edge of the creek on the other side, the creek water and changed the shape of the pond in the middle ground then finally got to start on the trees on the path. So, I’ve been to the point a bunch of times and went there to walk a few times without painting. It’s supposed to be nice again tomorrow so maybe I can get more tall grass painted on the path and do some tree trunks and sticks.

Then I’m almost finished except for the reflections on the pond and I want to put a figure on the path. The paint is getting kind of lumpy because of all the layers applied with my palette knife. I might paint the figure with paint brushes since it will be small and a palette knife isn’t easy to do a small figure.

I can’t be a purist about any certain style or art subject that comes up. I think it’s fine to mix up different styles in one painting. A purist who wants to do a palette knife painting might not want to use a brush at all. Some watercolor purists don’t use water color pencils along with watercolors in a tube. Once I heard a juror say, “Pick one style and stick to it.” I wondered if she meant me. Heck, I don’t even know the different styles. I only know what I learned in art school long ago.

I wonder if they would give this a bad critique at the academy. Probably. They were the old school purists.

When there’s not much fall color but you manage to find a little bit and put it in the painting.

There is only one bright tree on the far side. I almost covered it with a pine tree but I’ll save it.

When you don’t take your easel because it’s windy then you find a good way to anchor the painting down to a stick.

I don’t know how well this shows up in the photo. I put the handle of the drawing board over a stick that’s rooted there and it kind of tilts the paper up a little while stopping the wind from blowing it away. Also, maybe you can see where my drawing board broke at the handle once long ago and I glued chop sticks on it to repair it with some glue on paper towels ripped to fit and a little wooden shim over a crack. I just don’t want to buy another drawing board. I’ve had this one so many years I kind of got attached to it. It’s been all over hell’s half acre with me.

If it’s windy I’ll just sit on the ground to paint. It’s a real nice spot there at the edge of the pond.

3 pastel sketches from long ago, never to be seen again

Say your goodbye.

I think this was one of my first plein air sketches from Middle Creek Wildlife Preserve in Lancaster Co. PA. maybe 2006.

I want to use both sides of the paper and this will get ruined along with 2 others. They’re 7″ x 10″. I pulled an old sketchbook out of my flat file to find a piece of paper to redraw my new landscape larger on the other side. When I slap some oil paint on the back of this paper these will be lost. If you want to stop me from ruining one of these you can make me an offer, otherwise, maybe tomorrow these die.

I can’t remember where this scene was. That was around the time I started drawing in plein air so I can’t remember if I had a vacation at VA. Beach or maybe Chincoteague, because this looks like Assateague.

I have to be ruthless with my old art. I haven’t looked at these for 15 years. I won’t miss them. Anyway, I’m posting them so you can compare them to my new paintings, and so they can live on the cloud forever, at least until the electricity goes out.

Pond, Path, Creek, Golf course / sketch and photo

I adde a person walking for scale but I might change the figure in the painting.

I made the path wider so it’s more visible.

This is a plan for a palette knife painting on paper. I’m going to try painting right on top of my charcoal sketch, at home, because it’s going to rain again for a few days. Luckily, I got a few colors mixed in plein air today which I can put plastic wrap on top of and they will be good for a week or more. They say the sun will come out on Sat. too, so I can get back over there and mix more colors.

We didn’t have any frost yet. The trees are showing some color but not a lot. I might fake in some fall color in the background, or I could wait and see what happens, but the beach isn’t the best place for fall colors.

I need to look at this sketch and make some decisions before I get started painting . Like exactly where to start. I mixed some middle ground tree colors in plein air but I should probably start with the sky and background. Or I could try to paint the water first. The water looks different every time I see it, so I might just wing it.

Yawn.

I’m not a good photographer, but this pic is too boring. I’ll get a more interesting painting if I don’t use it, I’m only showing you the photo so you can see how much my naked eye differs from the camera. Which eye is the better representation? The human eye or the camera?

Sea Oats in a little breeze

They seem to glow when the sun shines through them and they look great with dark green pine trees behind them.

There’s this little salty meadow that floods sometimes. I really enjoy the view looking across it. I want to sketch the long view of the meadow and a few other places there.

They’re calling for good weather again tomorrow then a few days of rain. I might try a palette knife painting of this if it’s not good to go out.

Battery De Russy w. close ups

At first it was kind of scary, then it was fun.

I knew my lines would get all crooked painting with the palette knife. I tried to keep them as straight as I could but when you try to paint on top of lumpy paint from the previous palette knife glaze, you just have to stop worrying about straightness at some point.

It probably doesn’t matter if my perspective is off either. I don’t know if this is some kind of abstract or any kind of realism or what it is if it fits in some style of painting. The palette knife gives it a whole different look than I’d have got with brushes. To me it’s a wavy feel.

I don’t know if this shot is giving you all the grays in the dark. I used warm and cool grays on top of warm grays on top of cool grays. Some of the lower layers show through and the viewer’s naked eye can mix the tints and shades of gray to see a gray that’s alive and moving, not a dead gray.

I considered not painting the railings but then I decided the battery needed them. I knew they would be rough going on top of all those lumpy layers but I kind of got them in. I’m glad I gave it a shot.

This is the grass and path. It was fun glomming the paint on real thick with my palette knife. I mixed the colors of paint on my palette and only mixed them a little on the canvas with the knife and added some texture.

This shows you how out of control my lines got and some texture in the background, that might or might not be a ghost.

Battery De Russy progress report w photos from Ft. Monroe

This is the first coat of paint on top of my underpainting. The underpainting of the battery was a wash of cool grays that I painted with a brush. This layer is warm grays that I painted with a palette knife. I need to go over the whole thing again and make adjustments. I’m excited to see my progress so far. The next step is to go over the sky again. I’d like to make some clouds.

This is what the battery looks like to my camera. Yesterday when I left home the sun was coming out but by the time I got to the fort it was foggy. I worked on my painting a little while anyway and took this photo so you can compare my perspective drawn with my naked eye to the camera’s perspective.

This lighthouse is at Ft. Monroe. It was built in 1802. It’s still operational and automated since 1970 something. They called it Old Point Comfort.

This is the moat around the fort. There are some pretty views of it and I might try to do a painting of it eventually.

This is the way into the fort. I can get my car through with just inches to spare.

underpainting for battery de russy

II might still make corrections on this perspective.

When I went back to the battery yesterday I meant to take a ruler and correct my lines but I forgot it, so I just thought, hell, I’ll try to paint it from what I got transferred. So much for perfectionism. I strive for it but will never achieve it and I don’t worry about it too much. This will come out looking more like my interpretation of the battery than any photo realism.

The underpainting is in the complimentary colors of the ones I’ll paint on top of this. The battery is a warm gray because it’s concrete and weathered, so I painted it with cool grays first. The sky is a light tint of burnt umber because that’s a warm color. Now when I paint blue on top of this the blue will look brighter. The ground is a slightly darker tint of burnt umber because that’s what I saw under the grass. Sand.

If you want to paint with grays you need a good black to start. An equal amount of burnt umber and ultramarine blue make the best black. You’re mixing the darkest warm color paint with the darkest cool color and your black isn’t a dead black. Then you can mix white in for grays and make neutral grays or you can add any other color you want to and your grays will have some life. If you layer the grays warm then cool or cool to warm you’re also layering tints of complimentary colors which makes the grays look kind of pearly. The art viewer might not realize why the colors are pearly they just won’t get tired of looking at it as soon as they would if you only used flat grays. It makes the grays vibrate visually on a very subtle level that film can’t capture and computers can’t show you either.

Next step. I can do the sky at home. I’ll go back to mix colors for the grass next week. If I get my grays and greens mixed in plein air and start putting the colors in with my palette knife in plein air I’ll be able to see if it’s working out and might be able to work on it at home next week.

Battery De Russy / finished sketch

I tried to sketch this a couple years ago and never finished.

I transfered those old sketches to this larger paper and made some corrections but I can see it’s not still not right, better, but not good enough. When I transfer this to a canvas and go back I’ll make more corrections and it will be ok the next time.

Perspective ain’t easy. I’m eyeballing it and drawing freehand. It’s a challenge so if I keep at it my drawing will improve for other subjects too.

I’m looking forward to painting it with a palette knife. If I told you this joint vibrates with its own weird frequency, I hope you know what I mean. I don’t believe in ghosts so that might be why I never saw one, and I spent a couple years practicing figure drawing in Hollywood Cemetery around 15 years ago. I drew the sad stone angels. They make great subjects because they never move and they’re free any time you want to sketch them. Hollywood Cemetery had the vibe of a sanctuary to me.

I felt safe at Fort Monroe the past few times I went there even though there’s a two lane street between me and the battery. There’s not much traffic. I saw a ton of cops over there too so they may be making me feel safer. I was not a person of interest this time. I parked in the real public lot across the street instead of taking an illegal spot next to where I was standing.

Every time I go out on the highway lately traffic is flying!