Yesterday I slept too late for the best light. It was 9 when I got to the overlook. I decided not to take all my plein air supplies with me because I knew it would be crowded. I only took my color rough from the day before, my color charts and a pencil to make notes.
When I compared my rough to nature the first thing I noticed is that there’s not enough greenery. Otherwise, not too bad, I thought. So I decided to do another color sketch. Also, the ocean wasn’t sparkly at 9 like it is at 8 so that solves the problem of painting the sparkles. That wasn’t working out in my trials and I decided to forget about it until some time in the future. I might have to use oils to paint the sparkly water.
I came to another important decision. I decided to paint the panoramic scene at home. I might mess up the paper outside and can’t fix it with watercolors like I can fix a mistake with oil paint. There’s less chance of the paper picking up a smudge in the wrong place if I paint it at home as opposed to lugging all my stuff out there in my beach cart. After I get more experience with watercolors I’ll know exactly what I need to take along to paint in plein air and it will be a lighter load than taking oil paints.
If I do another rough sketch of a different area of the panorama and it looks ok compared to nature I’ll feel like I can paint it at home with more confidence. Just one more rough. I think I almost have it all worked out. I want to try to paint the thicker foliage first. This is a challenge and I want it to come out right. That’s why I’m doing so much preliminary work, the sketches, the color roughs, taking my time when making the decisions, etc.
It’s nice to have the luxury of taking my time when doing something difficult, and it’s nice to go there and walk even if I’m not working on an art project.
This is a color rough for my panoramic dune paintings in the works. Some other color dots are in the sky. I don’t know where it came from. I tried to lift it but couldn’t. Oh well, it’s only a rough. I’ll be mad if I mess up the sky on my good paper. Good thing I did the rough, now I know I have to figure out a way to wrap my papers to take them out to the beach.
It’s a big job. first I had to buy 3 pieces of plywood and cut them to fit half sheets of watercolor paper. I used my son in law’s battery powered saw. That went ok but stapling the paper to the boards was a problem because the staples I ordered weren’t the Duo Fast brand like I asked for and gave the stock number for. They got stuck in the stapler and I had to pry them out with a pliers. I had to use the staples I had which were too long and stuck out the back of the boards. I covered them by taping cotton cord on the back over the points so I wouldn’t scratch myself.
Then transferring my sketches to the paper took a long time. My hand gets tired holding a pencil to draw. Charcoal doesn’t make my hand tired but pencil is best on watercolor paper. That part of the job took days because I had to rest my hand.
We had a whole week of rain and I didn’t care. I also had to try to mix some colors and do a few color roughs at home before I go back to the beach and paint on my good paper.
This is my 4th try on the ocean. I want to make it sparkly, can’t tell if that’s working. It’s my 3rd try on sky and second try on dune colors. First I used yellow ochre for the dune color but thought it was too yellow so I tried again with burnt umber. This looks better but I need to take this along to the beach and compare it to nature.
Hopefully, tomorrow I can get out of here early and go back to the overlook. The light is best early and it’s easier to be there before it gets hot.
I knew this would be a big difficult job for me so I had to take my time and figure everything out first, do the drawings in detail, transfer everything, do my color roughs, mix colors at home, work out as many bugs as I can before I try to paint on the stretched papers. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to finish it. If I do all that first there’s a better chance it will work out. If I can’t concentrate on it I’ll just put it off until I can and the weather improves.
I don’t know if you can see it well enough in this photo. As I was working on these separate pieces of sketch paper I was putting the others in my bag loosely and the charcoal and chalk was rubbing off inside the bag. No big deal, these are only sketches that I’ll never frame. They got messed up with sweaty fingerprints too. This is 4 pieces of sketch paper each 11″ x 14″ with a 4″ piece of a gray paper added to either side because I need 64″ across for my panorama but I ran out of the tan paper.
The watercolor papers are 15″ x 22.5″ so if I deduct a few inches from 3 x 22.5″ because I’ll staple them to boards, then when it’s all finished I’ll have to trim off the staple holes, I’m figuring roughly 64″. I’ll transfer this to the watercolor paper tomorrow and I might have to redraw at the beach a little before I start painting, but the hardest part of the planning stage is under control now.
I made some notes of colors I think I’ll need. And I want to do a couple practices for that little triangle of ocean showing between the dunes on the left. The ocean looks gray and it has sparkles. It’s far away but still sparkly.
The chance of rain goes up over the next few days. I’m hoping for a blue sky with light clouds. That will be the first step in the painting. If the weather cooperates, it might not take long to paint my 3 pieces of the triptych, or it could take weeks.
That’s the ocean in the background.
I bought two big sheets of watercolor paper for my dunes now that I have a few sketches I can use. I’m planning a triptych. I want to show more sky in the watercolors than is showing in my sketches and it would be great if I could make the three paintings of the triptych look connected. The watercolor paper is larger than my sketchbook so I’ll be able to extend my sketches on both sides a little.
I’ll have to haul my watercolors supplies down a path but not real far, I/4 mile or so, I guess. I can use my beach cart. I’m not sure if I can take all three pieces out with the paper stretched on boards, or if it would be better to work on one at the beach and the other two at home. The three watercolors will be a big job for me. I’m not sure how to paint that little bit of ocean and I’ll have to decide how to do the sky.
The bugs were after me this morning. Now I’ll have to start taking bug spray along too.
This plan seems like a lot of work but I think it will be worth it. Just hanging around there is worth the drive.
The earlier I can get to Back Bay the better when it’s hot. Today I got to my overlook around 8:30 and it was great! Not many people were there either.
I could get at least two more sketches from this one spot. It’s pretty 360* around and a place where I can see a little ocean between dunes. I could do a series of dune paintings in a row to give the panoramic feel of it.
Walking on the beach is nice exercise after sketching. The dunes get my heart rate up for a few minutes. The waves were small again this morning. In another week or so the tides will be all different from this week and I might be able to do some wave studies.
There’s not much shade down there but I found some and sat in it to sketch. It was uncomfortable but better than standing in the sun. By the time I got to my overlook at 10 this morning I already had enough sun.
Yesterday was cloudy and cool. Then, on my way home at 11:30 today I passed a long line of cars waiting to get into the public parking lot at Sandbridge. If I had to wait in that line I’d just turn around and go somewhere else.
The past two times I walked on the beach at Back Bay the waves were small. That’s why I’m getting into the dunes even though I really need the practice drawing and painting waves.
I’d also like to sketch more at Pleasure House Point, so depending on the weather I might go back over there. It’s closer than Back Bay. I need to check the tide charts again.
I’ll try to get out earlier so it’s not so hot and I can sketch the better views in the better light.
This is weird, I went back to the old wordpress editor for this post because I couldn’t find the place to click to add media on the new one. I had a post made up but somehow I lost it and couldn’t get it back. This makes my 3rd try here.
I’m going to do a few sketches at Back Bay and get some sand dunes then decide which one to do a watercolor from.
This will be a short post because I’ve already worked on it too long.
The ocean, it ain’t easy to paint. If I try about 100 more times maybe I’ll get it. That’s ok. This could take years. I won’t give up until I do my masterpiece, hopefully before I die. Until then, you might have to look at some bad art. hahahahahah If you have any advice for me on technique that would be great.
It was nice out today. Not hot or cold, sunny with a nice breeze. Last time I went to First Landing State Park, by the time I left the parking lot was slam packed. I decided to try a watercolor sketch at Back Bay today because I thought it would be less crowded since it’s a holiday, and it was. I enjoyed sitting on a sand dune to paint this.
We might get some rain tomorrow and this week, so I wanted to get out today for a sketch.
I’ll keep all my bad attempts at painting waves. After I have a bunch of them I’ll take them all out with me and that will help me improve my technique if I can compare them to real live waves. It’s like figure drawing. I’ll keep at it but not constantly. I go back to figure drawing again and again over the years, and I’m getting better at that. I might not do a figure drawing for a long time. but when you put an art down then pick it up years later, you can pick up where you left off. You don’t forget what you learned before. The hands have a memory and it doesn’t take much time to get back in your previous groove. It will be the same for me painting waves.
I don’t call myself a professional artist, here’s one reason why.
This painting is really a flop. Lucky for me, as an amateur, it doesn’t matter when a painting doesn’t work out. If I was a pro it would be a big embarrassing waste of time to goof around with something for hours, then I don’t like it. If I only knew what I was doing I could be good. Yeah, I could be real damn good, but I’ll have to practice because doing watercolors isn’t as easy as the pros make it look.
I’ve taken a couple watercolor classes in the past and I might do that again, but I have a feeling it takes years to master watercolor. I might buy some magazines and see if I can get tips. Or, if you have any advice, dear reader, I’d appreciate it.
I did this at home. I’ll go to Back Bay and try again in another beautiful spot.
Finally! I have a sketch I’d like to work into a painting from Back Bay. I’ll take my watercolor pencils and give them a try. I have very little experience with watercolors but they’re less bulky to take to a popular overlook than my oil paint supplies.
I want to explore and sketch more places there. This could take some time. Years.
The water isn’t finished in this sketch. Before I left home that day I checked the weather report and it said the wind was coming from the southwest but it would change to the northeast. When I got there the bay had nice ripple waves. First I started planning where the water would show and where the reeds would be, and the horizon. It seemed like that went fast, but when I looked at the water again it was CALM! The water looked like glass. I hate when it’s calm so I quit working on the sketch.
The weather is very important to your Plein air artist. It’s funny how fast it changes around here too. Good thing I can go back any time.