Tag Archives: dunes

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.

Sand Dunes / oils

That was a great place to paint and the weather wasn’t too bad in the shade with a nice breeze today. Bugs were buzzing around but I didn’t get bit thanks to DEET. I might not go back to this spot. It was tiring to lug my supplies out there even with my beach cart. By the time I left it was getting hot and a long walk back to the car in the sun. Not many people were there today.

I used my modified fan brush to paint the tall grasses. I had my brushes taped to yardsticks so I could sit back from my painting to paint and a few of those grass lines went on too thick so I scraped through them with a palette knife to break them up.

In this close up you can see some of my dark shadows. It looks like a good habitat for a snake, doesn’t it?

This shows a grass focal point with a direction going up to the sand slide and thin ridge which also has some direction in the shape of a light colored bent line next to a dark shadow.

This one is the top of a fragile dune and the dark line in the shade is the edge of a sand slide.

I went over the shadow in the sand again. When I got there and compared what I had before to nature, I though the shadow was too brown so I mixed a neutral gray and scribbled it on top of the brown glaze cooling it down slightly.

The original dark color is showing through where the sand breaks and a few tiny spots under the brown and gray sand shadow colors.

It was great to have a secluded spot where no one noticed I had my brushes taped to yardsticks because for people to see a woman out painting alone is enough but if they saw the yardsticks they might think I was really nuts and I don’t feel like explaining that Matisse did that and I want to paint like Matisse.

I think it gave my painting a more loose impressionistic look and I’ll use the yardsticks again.

waves and dunes are the same thing. / mono print

this is a close up

Waves and dunes are the same shapes. They both are always moving but you don’t notice the dune moving. They’re so much alike you could dress a dune up in wave colors, tell people it’s a wave and everyone would believe you.

this is the full view of my mono print.

I want to paint waves but it’s too hot to hang around on the beach. I used my sketch of a dune and did a palette knife painting of it with wave colors from memory, then folded the paper in half to make a mono print.

this is my palette knife painting before I smooshed it.

Dunes are like waves in another way, they’re breaking.

In my dune sketch there is some plant life on top of the dune and the sand breaks below the vegetation. So instead of painting that part green I used white and it would put the white water of a breaking wave in the right place. It’s me dressing a dune in wave colors.

This mono print is a variation of the dune painting I’m working on and hope to finish tomorrow if I can get up early enough to be at the beach before it gets too hot.

sand dune painting update

It was windy but nice to be out after a lot of days that were too hot and humid and rainy to paint in plein air. Finally! I could go back down there to work on this again. The wind was around 20 to 25 mph I think. It almost blew me down when I stood up. Last time it was windy too. It felt good but the blowing sand got in everything.

the wind was blowing my brush around because I had it taped to a yardstick and was sitting back a yard away from my painting, like Matisse did. It’s a lot of fun but you have to give up some control. Can you see the craziness in this close up? Sand in my paint? Scribbling because of wind and sand? I doubt anyone could call this painting “tight” hahahah

I enjoy it a lot but maybe other artists wouldn’t.

That big dark slash there, that’s a blip of the brush because of wind and sand. I’m not sure how I’m going to fix that but I fixed the bad place in the sky so I’ll do something to break up that dark blob. Note the sand getting bad by the time I got this far with it.

I’m trying to decide if I should brush the sand off when this dries or leave it there. Some of it won’t come off.

Just as I was packing my things to leave the wind blew my canvas paper off the drawing board and it flipped back with the paint in the sand. I thought that was too much but it didn’t wreck it any worse than it was already. I had to quick slap more tape on it before it started flapping in the wind. This is the kind of plein air experience that might deter a lot of artists. I’m not fighting nature. Let her mess up my painting. I should care but I don’t.

Too much sand on my palette. I had to quit working on it or else clean my palette out there because I couldn’t mix up another color on top of that mess. The blue colors on top are what was left over from the sky and they’re covered with little pieces of plastic wrap to keep them workable, so maybe that much paint is still ok.

I’m not sure about finishing this. I might go back in a few days after this dries a little or I might finish it at home.

can this painting be saved?

This is a start. It was tiring to lug my art supplies out to the dune and I had everything in my beach cart, but so much fun to paint there. I was saying to myself, This is the life! All those years that I worked at jobs trying to make ends meet and never gave a thought to retirement, then when I started painting in plein air and the beach was far away, I wished I could hop in the car and be there. Then my daughter married a Norfolk guy and says she’s staying in Norfolk, I moved to the beach and it’s great! Norfolk and Virginia Beach are just one huge city to me. If I believed in karma I’d wonder what I did to deserve this, because it was a pure delight out there today. Even though it made me tired, I thought the rewards for doing something difficult are higher than the rewards for doing the easy thing.

My spot is so nice. Picture this. I’m in the only shady place in the dunes. I sat on the sand and leaned against a post. I leaned my painting on a post about 4′ away and spread my stuff out all around me. I found a heavy piece of metal to lean against my painting and had a foot on it too and the wind, which really picked up when I was there, didn’t blow it down. The wind felt good. It was sunny and not too hot. But the best thing is people didn’t notice me there. Only one kid saw me and they all moved on. Since I knew I was hidden I took my yardsticks and taped my brushes to them so I could sit back and paint from far away like my favorite artist, Matisse. That’s why this underpainting is loose looking. And that made it all the more fun.

Since I had my brush taped to a yardstick it went a little wild here and I accidentally smeared some green into the sky. When I tried to wipe it off it only got worse. I wanted to go over the sky again so I’m not worrying about it.

The whole experience was so much fun I don’t even care that sand got all over my painting. It’s not even artfully designed sand and I don’t care. I mean, how zen is that?! I’ll give it a few days to dry and maybe most of the sand will brush off. It won’t all come off but let that be proof for future art historians after I’m dead that I was really right down there in it. I’m like freakin Turner tying himself to a mast in a storm to capture the storm! haha I would never tie myself to a mast because I’d be seasick. It would be great if my efforts would show up in the painting when it’s finished. I want to go back and finish it soon but it might rain in a couple days after this dries enough to work on it again. I need to go over it again twice.

between dunes / charcoal and chalk

I found a really good spot to do a painting. I want to go large with it. The earlier I get there the better for the shadows.

It was great out there this morning, not too hot, sunny and windy. No bugs bit me. I saw a lot of cool wildlife, 4 pelicans flying over the dunes, a big turtle sunning himself with his legs splayed out behind him, ospreys, great blue herons, smaller types of herons, red winged blackbirds, and yesterday, lizards.

I can’t take my easel out on the sand because if sand gets into the telescoping legs they might get stuck, but I thought of a way to prop up my painting that might work even with a little wind.

panoramic dune paintings with close ups

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left

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center

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right

Finally finished! time to celebrate!

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This is a close up of the small piece of ocean you can see from there. I always see a texture on the ocean. This could be white caps or sparkles. I’ll let the viewer decide if it looks like either one of those. Maybe from far away. Also, you can see the texture of the grass I made with the Inktense pencils.

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This is the leaf texture I made with masking fluid to save the lighter leaf colors and use a dark green to darken the shadows. The grass texture in the shade was made with my modified fan brush and masking fluid.

I enjoy making textures. Masking fluid is a great product for that.

Some things I can use from my old school training are how to make a feeling of light by working on my shadows. If you use the full range of values from black to white and put the darkest shadows in under some lighter contrasting shapes, leaves, the viewer gets the feeling of sunlight, and depth. Could you walk in there and get out of the sun? Maybe, but you’ll need bug spray.

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This shows a sand slide. The smoother sand is the part that slid down and the top inch or two of the rougher sand is the part of the dune where it broke. I hope you can see what I mean.

I like the way that the dunes mimic the ocean with their wavy shapes and their rising and falling with peaks and breakers, if you can imagine it.

dune painting and wildlife report from VA Beach

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When I was driving down the Sandbridge Rd. this morning a deer crossed the road in front of my car. I saw it from far away, a doe, as it walked across the ditch. It didn’t jump, just walked. Then as I was driving down the Back Bay rd. a big sand crab crossed the road.

A couple days ago I had to come to a stop on that road for a big turtle.

One day last week I was walking down the gravel road to my overlook and I saw something brown in the grass next to the road, not moving, and I wondered what it was. It was a big rabbit and not your ordinary wild rabbit but one with real pretty tortoise shell  colored  fur. As I got closer it didn’t move but kept on eating the grass. I walked by it only 3′ away and it didn’t run.

There is a bumper crop of dragon flies down there and one flew right into my neck! You can see hundreds of them buzzing all around this scene.

It was hot when I got there at 7:30 but there was a nice breeze which made it more tolerable. Now it’s hot as hell out there.

I’m almost finished with my dune painting triptych. This is the center section, finished.

dune paintings debriefing

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This morning I worked on the top part of the dunes adding some Inktense pencil to draw some grass. I also put a second glaze on the sand in the light areas and the shadows. The foliage on the bottom of the paper needs more work. The sky and sea are finished.

I can’t tell if I messed it up or not. I can’t fix it so I have to continue. An old dude (birdwatcher)  is watching my progress almost every day. He asked me if I sell my paintings and I said no. The first few times I saw him he didn’t talk much then once he talked a lot. If I don’t tell him I’m not sure if it’s working he’ll think it’s great. Anyway, I don’t really fear failure and if it is a failure let it be epic. That’s my attitude.

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This is the left panel of the triptych with one layer of glazes. To make my shady sand color I painted a thin glaze of gray with burnt umber. Then today I used a blue gray glaze  on top of the first layer. And I went over the light sandy color again today before scribbling in the dark green Inktense pencil lines. I think the two glazes in the shadows of the dune looks like a good gray now. The viewer’s  eye can see both  the blue and the brown glazes mixing together. The viewer might not actually notice the two glazes but it makes more interesting shadows.

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This is the center section of the triptych with one layer of glazes.

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This is the right section of my panorama with one layer of glazes.

The funny thing about painting a triptych is that even though I want the paintings to be hung in order and close together so it looks like a panorama, there’s no guarantee it will get hung that way, so just in case some idiot curator can’t hang it right, each piece should be strong enough on it’s own.

Now, you may say, “Chris, why are you so hard on curators?”

I’ll give you  a couple examples.

Years ago, I drew my skull of a bull with pastel, the skull facing left, center and right to be a triptych. The 3 pastels were strong, colorful, bold and kind of moody. I entered a national contest in Boulder CO. and all 3 were accepted! I was looking forward to it because I thought my pastels would dominate the show. I got plane tickets and made reservations for my Mom to go with me to Boulder for the opening. We got there a day early and I rented a car and wanted to find my way to the venue in the day so I wouldn’t get lost at night. I went in to get a sneak peek at the show and only one of my pastels was hanging. I might add that it was a big job packing all 3 in one big box and shipping them out there. I asked the person in charge of hanging the show where the other two of the triptych were since 3 pieces got accepted and were so large it would be hard to miss 2 of them all in the same box. The lady said they had migrant workers unpacking the boxes and they must have missed the other two. I had labeled it extra large, 3 pastels on the box. They had to send someone up to their storage unit in Fort Collins to bring my other two pastels down to Boulder and then they weren’t hung together as a triptych but spread around the show. I guessed they weren’t expecting me to show up from Virginia. This is why if you enter a show in another state you have to go, or your painting might not get hung at all.

 

One time in Richmond I entered a triptych in a show with a Richmond city theme. I did oils on smaller canvases of the skyline and the river. I guess they didn’t have enough entries for the show because they spread my 3 paintings out over a 12′ wall, so the effect of a panorama was lost. For a triptych the paintings should be hung with only a couple inches between them.

ok, enough of my complaining. This triptych might never get entered so, no more of that aggravation.

 

Dune painting color rough and dune pix

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I painted this at home and took it to the beach to compare it to real life. I didn’t paint nearly enough greenery but you might not notice it’s missing until you see the photos below. The dead trees need sunlight and I just painted them solid gray here. I was trying to make it easier for myself, now I know I have to paint the light on the trees. I guess I’ll have to go there to work on my big paintings after all. I miss too much working from my charcoal sketches at home. Plus, painting at home is boring when you get used to painting in plein air. One good thing about the dunes is that the foliage doesn’t change much over months so I can still take my time finishing my big panorama plan.

 

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Gosh darn it, my computer’s acting up again. I thought these would never load.

 

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I bought  a sunflower at the farm stand on Sandbridge Rd. And I got some scallops, a stuffed clam and a tomato. I might try to sketch the sunflower later. The lady told me it would last 7 to 10 days if I don’t put more than an inch or so of water in every day. Too much water rots the stem.

This is a busy week at the beach but I got out this morning before it got too hot and crowded with heavy traffic.