Tag Archives: First Landing State Park

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.

lichens / charcoal and chalk

slightly larger than life on my 11 x 14 sketchbook

They’re light green, and layered like tiny leaves or scales. I’m not sure but I think this is a live oak. I’ll ask later at the visitor’s center to be sure. The trees are sprawling with limbs going back down to the sand and all covered with lichens.

I was glad to get over there today after staying home for a couple days because of windy and rainy weather. Today it’s still a little cold and cloudy but not much wind. Tomorrow, winter weather is coming in.

I’d like to paint the whole tree. There’s a lot of them around the empty campsites, so, good time of year for that project.

It would be fun to paint lichens super close up too. I might be able to wing it at home since I have this sketch.

dunes, bay, ship heading out / charcoal and chalk

In defense of perfectionism:

I wonder why perfectionism is so unpopular these days.

Sometimes I see a piece of art, any type of art, and I think that is just sublime. I couldn’t do better. I can’t find any fault with that. That looks like perfection to me. It’s a treat for your eyes. That was no accident. If the artist didn’t work on that particular piece for a long time then they are showing you the end result of years of practice.

Art experts don’t like to see evidence of hard work. They call it “labored over” like labor isn’t part of life. It’s to be avoided. There is no such thing as a labor of love to those people.

If an artist is insecure maybe the person saying, ” don’t continue to work on this painting, stop now before you overwork it.” The expert is trying to make the artist feel better about themself. If the artist is saying, “I’m not good enough,” that isn’t relevant in the art world. You can be a real jerk, it doesn’t matter. You can still do art that is uplifting and people might love your art. I’m not good enough also doesn’t make sense to me because imperfection is accepted, even prized. The artists I’m talking about only need more practice till they feel good enough.

You don’t get there by giving up if you think you can fix a painting and make it better by continuing to work on it. If you don’t want to do that right now, it’s ok to put it off till next week, next year or any other time when you think you can do better.

I’ll agree no one is perfect. Perfection is an ideal. Why not shoot for the ideal? Even if you never get there trying is better than copping out. Art might be the only chance we have to get close to perfection.

If you want to keep going over it again and again don’t let anyone stop you. If you get on a good path and want to keep doing the same thing in different variations until you have had enough then you have to do that and don’t let anyone say, “you’re not done with that yet?”

Ignore anyone that tells you what not to do.

As always, feel free to opine.

the way to the bay / sketch

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on the horizon

Oh man, there are so many places and things I want to draw and paint. I went over there thinking it would be fun to sketch lichens. I had lichens in the back of my mind since last winter. Then I saw some strange thorn trees. I continued walking a little further looking at lichens and trying to decide, lichens or thorns, and I walked out on this overlook and thought I’ll do this scene.

It was great weather, sunny, cool, light breeze. I only saw two people coming back from the beach.

The water was dark gray.

I need a bigger piece of paper. I could get into painting this freely if I tape my brushes onto yardsticks again and stand back. That might help my perspective a little too.

They’re calling for sunny but cold weather this weekend. I should go back. I’ll have it all to myself. It’s a real nice overlook with a bench.

plein air painting from a couple years ago and scary thing that was a false alarm but weird

The painting is long to fit in the window at Jerry’s Artarama. They asked artists to paint on canvases to fit in the store windows to block the view of the merchandise racks from the outside of the store. This was in front of a rack of paper so I thought it would be safe because they’d have to move a lot of paper to take it out of the window. It was in the window for a couple years and I wanted to get it back and rework the water but didn’t ask because I knew it would be difficult to get it out of there.

So, today I went there to buy some things and my painting was replaced by a tiger. I asked where my painting was and the guys didn’t know. The girl that arranges the windows would be out for a couple days. I gave them my phone number but expressed my concern about it with out acting too alarmed because I’m really cool in weird situations, but I was afraid it was stolen. The manager didn’t even remember the painting and he worked there for a year!

He went around the whole place looking for it and finally spotted it in a window behind shopping carts. You could only see the sky. The rest was blocked. No one would ever notice it. I was so relieved to see it. I took it home, never to be on display again! They still have some empty windows but instead they hid it.

Every time you put a painting out there you run the risk of losing it. Now, if I want to throw it away that’s one thing, but if it goes missing that would be kind of upsetting. I used to worry when entering shows in those huge sprawling non profits with back doors and no one’s watching that someone would walk out with one of mine. It did happen to a guy and the newspaper did a report on it. That artist said it was worth the loss for the publicity and sales he got afterwards but I know if it happens to me it wouldn’t make the news.

I wonder why the store didn’t just call me or email me and say it was time to pick it up? That I could understand. But hide it behind carts? Next to the front door where it was easy to slide out? Makes no sense. That also reminds me of the non profits because they liked to mainly reject my paintings but when they got hung they were in the hallway, or way up high, or next to the bathroom, or in a corner or some place I had to hunt for them, like behind a sculpture.

I’m really glad I got this one back.

It’s the view from the beach side at First Landing State Park looking out over the Chesapeake Bay at the bridge tunnel. This is a close up.

omg. I just looked at the back of the painting and someone had put a price on it of $40. This is looking more like a plan to rob me. That’s another weird thing because someone tried to rob me earlier this year and made off with a bunch of my art and I got it all back, except one thing I can remember which they didn’t return. That thing was a drying rack I made from stretcher strips and button twine. It’s possible they kept more of my art and I just don’t remember what I had because it was all my good stuff from so many years, since I regularly cull my collection and toss the old stuff I don’t want.

Now I feel like someone up there is watching out for me because I only went to the store because a fellow blogger told me to buy a different kind of palette knife.

So, Thanks to God!

cypress knee sketch w. swamp pix

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You can find all of my cypress knee models in the photos below.

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This is my latest place to hang around sketching. Look how tiny the knees are in this picture. I could never see them well enough to draw them if I had to copy a photo. Maybe if I was a better photographer…

You can see the pollen on the water but it’s not swirling so nicely any more since it rained. A slight breeze is keeping the pollen moving and changing designs all the time.

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. This is the tree I drew last but it was cloudy that day. If you compare this photo to my sketch you’ll see I didn’t draw all of the sticks around the base of the tree.

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I think this tree is pretty because it has Spanish moss in the branches and another kind of moss is going up the trunk.

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This photo shows a knee I didn’t sketch and pollen clumping up at the water’s edge.

Next week I might go back to the botanical garden to draw. I’m missing some spring  flowers. The knees will be the same all year.

This spring I have a new attitude. Every day I feel so lucky. I’m so thankful for my good health and every day I’m glad I ain’t dead yet. I used to take it all for granted. Does that mean I’m getting old or is this the new “normal”?

It seems so ironic to me that I’ve lived like a hermit for years and finally got used to it. Now, I wish I could help the society that rejected me. I can’t hurt it because there’s no one around for me to infect even if I was an unknowing carrier of a deadly virus, but I’m sure I’m not. Society rejected me. We don’t need to go into all that.  That’s why I’m an artist. It’s ironic because once I took a personality test that said I’m an  extrovert and here I am reclusive. I don’t see myself as an introvert or an extrovert but dead center between the two. I like people, I’m just not trying to be with them. That’s working out for me now.

ok.  enough philosophizing, back to the important job of moving.