It was cool and sunny today with no big wind, so much nicer than yesterday for your plein air artist.
I tried to find a place in Portsmouth that was recommended to me but couldn’t find the right road so I came back to the beach and went on down to Stumpy. I walked off the path about 50 ft. towards the swamp and sat on a mossy root that was out of the muck a little and sketched. No one could see me. I wouldn’t go off the path except it’s been cold so I thought I’d be safer from things that bite.
The background trees were sunlit and the closer trees were mostly shaded. There was a little ice on the water. I stayed for over an hour to get this sketch. I might try to do a watercolor there some time while it’s still winter but I’d also like to go back to the bent tree and try again with pastels on a big paper.
I counted 4 great blue herons on my way out and an equal number of photographers. I bet Stumpy is popular with bird watchers.
They said this is the coldest day in 3 years with the temp right around freezing all day and a brisk Northerly wind. It doesn’t get very cold here. I bundled up and went out to sketch and shop a little, not because I’m so dedicated to art but because the sun’s out and I’m tired of hanging around at home.
You’ll never guess what I saw, a sexy soldier jogged past me wearing shorts and a T shirt. Yes, ladies, if you appreciate seeing a strong male bod all year long the beach is the place to be! hahah I love those guys!
I sketched quick and I’m not excited about the sketch but the first one of any subject is for me to decide if I like the location for drawing or painting. Is it safe, am I in anyone’s way, do I need a larger paper etc. I need to make a lot of decisions before I start on a project. These are a few of them. Yes, I do need a larger paper. The tree is more graceful than I drew it. I always seem to cramp my trees on a too small paper at first. I find it easier to draw larger.
The gloves on the bottom of the pic are my plein air gloves that I’ve been wearing for so many years I forget how old they are. I cut off the finger tips then the seams frayed so I sewed the loose ends together by hand. The paint is dry. I might have to buy some new ones but these are so nice!
My fingers got cold today, so I switched to the blue pair but then I kept smearing the charcoal so I gave up on neatness for this sketch. Another decision I have to make every time I start a new project is how much do I really care about it. Things like sketches or even mono prints, I don’t care about as much as I care if I decide to do a finished painting. Some artists worry too much about showing a sloppy sketch and you never see a bad one, and some artists don’t care at all and just sling some paint and see what they get. I find mental balance by caring sometimes and being apathetic other times. Either extreme, worrying too much what others will think or never even really trying to do the difficult thing, is not good. Striving for perfection even if it’s impossible, I say why not shoot for the ideal sometimes. It might improve my skill. Perfectionism has its time and so does the messiness of an art project.
It was sunny and cool with a crisp wind from the North. Felt great to be out there and I got used to the wind. I was on the leeward side of a dune.
I can’t decide what scene to paint next. I have a couple sketches of good possibilities. Now I like this one for a painting. It looks easy. There’s a white building back there across the road but I didn’t think the sketch needed the building.
This is the background and gold fish for my collage. I used acrylics and my palette knife to scrape shades of blue. The fish are my mono prints that I cut out. Some are on wax paper which I used as a printing plate, some are on watercolor paper tinted blue, some are on blue craft paper and some are on green glitter craft foam. They’re not glued down yet. I might have too many fish. They were fun to make. I could save them for another project if I have too many.
The next step is to do some mono prints of kelp and cut them out. Then the hard part which will be a mermaid and I still didn’t get her drawn but I will. Then I have to try to arrange the pieces. and glue them down.
I like the ones on the glitter foam which shows little bits of sparkles.
oops. This pic is sideways. Well, just pretend it’s abstract flowers or something. Yeah, it’s not sideways fish, it’s a design.
I like the smears of color on the fish from doing the mono prints. Every fish is different.
If I had a bigger paper I could have done more waves. Then I could draw them all the way up to the dry sand.
Some guys were on the pier fishing but all I could see of them from my spot sitting on the sand was the tops of their heads, so, no guys fishing will be in a painting of this unless they’re on the sand.
A few people were catching rays today. It was sunny and warm with a nice breeze from the South. Near perfect weather.
An old couple walked past me barefoot. They beat my record for late season barefoot. I’m not taking my shoes off between Nov. and March.
I saw some pelicans dive into the water and some surfers.
Weird thing happened on the pier. If you’re easily grossed out read no further.
It was cool and windy. Some people were walking on the beach so I zipped my windbreaker up to my chin and decided to try to sketch. The wind was coming from the North. I was doing ok with the sketch, resting my sketchbook on the railing, then suddenly a drop of water flew onto my paper and I wondered where did that come from. Then I realized the cold wind was making my nose run and snot actually flew out of my nose without me knowing! So I just left it there. hahaha. Did you think I was a high class dame? I don’t even care about the snot. It dried up on my way home.
This story is to let you know how gross plein air drawing and painting can be. All year long sand, leaves and dirt get in my paintings. In the summer bug spray and sweat get in my drawings. And there’s snot in the winter, evidently.
The weather hasn’t been great for your plein air artist. I’d really like to go back to the swamp and finish my big painting. I only need about 2 more hours to do it but the sun hasn’t been out much this week. Sometimes I get up early and it’s sunny so I check the weather channel and it says it’ll be cloudy at 10. So, forget about it. I don’t want to lug my stuff out there and only have an hour of sun. I need the sun shining on the Spanish moss to get the right shades of gray mixed. Then sometimes it’s cloudy in the morning and clears up in the afternoon but that’s too late. Sometimes it’s cloudy and rainy all day. I guess the rain won’t hurt because it was getting too dry around here. Today is cloudy and cool but I wanted to get out and scout another view. This weekend it’s going to be cloudy and rainy. My next chance looks like Mon.
I was happy to see the parking meters wrapped up for the winter because I didn’t explore this little park before and was kind of worried about getting a parking ticket if I didn’t pay. Guess I can go back for free over the winter. I liked the view of the waves from up on the fishing pier. I want to go back and sketch looking North too. This is looking South. And the pier is a good thing to sketch from the beach. Every time I go out to sketch I find so many more subjects. No one was fishing today but if I can paint the pier from the beach then I can go back and add some little fishermen later if I want to. I could use the practice painting little figures in a scene. I have more inspiration than energy. And don’t forget the pretty white thorn bushes. Got to draw those things too!
This is a quick sketch that I did so I could decide what size canvas to buy for the painting. I scouted the scene yesterday. It’s a nice wooden overlook over the swamp off a side path with less foot traffic. I took a whole sheet of charcoal paper on my drawing board because I knew I want to go large with the painting. 18″x24″ isn’t big enough. I bought a 30″ x 30″ canvas for it.
The Spanish moss is pretty with the sunlight shining through it. I drew all of it with chalk but it’s not all lit at once by the spotty light coming through. The treetops are getting some fall color. We didn’t have frost yet. I hope the cypress trees get orange.
Once I was driving down a country road close to Claremont looking for a place to park next to the road with a view of the swamp and there were no parking places. I was kind of lost and found myself on Burnt Cypress Road and I’m saying to myself, “Where are the burnt cypress trees?” Then I went around a curve and there next to the swamp with a dark hill behind them were the brightest red trees I ever saw. The trunks and foliage all looked like they were on fire! I was there on the right day at the right time to see it. I stopped and looked but didn’t take a picture and couldn’t paint it. I want to go back some time.
Anyway, I’m going to go whole hog on this painting. It could take a while. People already think I’m nuts out there all alone painting. Most plein air painters work small and in groups but I’ll be going with the large canvas and haul my art supplies in my beach cart. I like to take a lot of stuff out with me when I paint. Most plein air artists only take a few colors and brushes and I don’t know if a pochade box will hold a 30 x 30 canvas, I doubt it. Whole hog means I’m not going to skip steps. I’m following the old tradition for this one. Except I want to take my yardsticks and tape my brushes to them like Matisse, because that’s fun. That might make the painting have a more modern look.
Most people seem afraid to go out on the overlook when they see me there. Today I was taking a break and I saw a family come down and stop half way. I said, “You can come on down, I had my shots.” So they did. Sometimes people see I’m left handed and avoid me, I think. That’s a sure sign that I’m crazy and unpredictable, right? Since when did I care what people think? So, yardsticks with brushes taped on. I’m going for it.
It was really nice over there today, sunny, not too hot with a light breeze. The tide was way out and boats were going out through Lynnhaven Inlet and guys were fishing. I just sat down on the sand and was enjoying the view for a minute and a man with a beagle stopped and asked me if I was ok since I was sitting in the shade with my back next to the dock and he expected to see people catching rays. I said I’m fine that I was planning to sketch but didn’t start yet. Then he talked a little while.
There are two views I’d like to paint from this spot, the sand bar at low tide with boats beached on the sand and people out on the sand bar playing around, and the other view I want to paint is the bridge going over the inlet. There are at least 6 or 7 views that I’ll paint at Pleasure House Point eventually. Today it was just a goldenrod sketch.
They’re calling for rain tomorrow. I might be able to paint this at home from my sketch. The goldenrod looked like straight cadmium yellow and the greens are the same greens I use all the time.
The recent tidal flood left a lot of debris washed up in front of the goldenrod. It’s a messy looking weed but that’s ok. I don’t have to paint all the dirty stuff around it. I’d like to do a fall still life, maybe next year, because I have so many plans in mind for this fall, but I think goldenrod would be good for the still life, so it’s a good thing to get some practice on the subject.
Today I walked all the way through the campground with my sketchbook charcoal and water bottle to see the view from the farthest yurt, #1. I was glad I waited until this afternoon because I think they had some rain over there this morning. There were puddles and the big chairs at the yurt were wet. I mainly wanted to get some exercise because it’s going to rain tomorrow and Sun.
Sketching is progress even if I never use the sketch for a painting. I can’t get too much practice. It would be a long haul to take paint that far from the car even with my beach cart. I’d still like to hang around all the yurts when they’re not occupied and do more sketching this fall. That’s the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on the horizon.
I think I’ll try to paint Lynnhaven Inlet next but I wasn’t ready to start on another big project today. Maybe Mon.
This time I had a larger paper and liked my sketch more than the first try. I might be able to use this one for a painting since my tree feels less squished and more more wind blown.
There was a nice breeze and a few guys kite surfing. They’re just tiny tiny figures out there. I was thinking about putting a kite in the painting. I’ll have to move him in more off the edge of the scene. He’s so small on the paper I’m not sure I could paint him with Inktense pencils or watercolor. I might use oils for this.
There are some buildings in the background on the left. This photo cuts off the buildings a little. It also cuts off some dune foliage that is in the tall grass. I was thinking of leaving the buildings and other foliage out of the picture, move the tree a little to the left so the kite surfer has more room. The dune grass blowing in the wind is shiny and soft looking, so that will make a nice contrast in color and texture to the pine tree. You can see a little of the sandy beach in the background too.
I need to get out there a little earlier if I use oil paints because it could take some time to mix colors. I’ll do an underpainting, maybe start tomorrow.
That’s my plan, all worked out and ready to start on the painting. I had to do the second sketch to make those decisions.