The weather is great. I was there all day working on this sketch but I took a long break and walked with the camera to take pix for my blogging friends.
Yesterday I wasn’t happy with my sketch because it didn’t show the panoramic view I hoped to get. I was sitting on a small dune to do the sketch. Today I sat on a bench behind the visitor center which is about 1/2 mile back from the dune and I think it came out better. I worked on my charcoal sketch for hours first. I find it difficult to do a panoramic sketch. The sketch keeps getting bigger and bigger as I’m going which means it’s out of control.
At least this is showing the scale of the dunes better because of the trees. The dunes are 750 feet tall, the largest sand dunes in North America.
Some wild flowers, asters, I guess.
Rabbit brush. The plaque says cows don’t like to eat it. Someone used the area to graze cattle and now there’s a lot of this because they ate all the tastier plants. That was long ago.
yucca. They’re small for a yucca. I think that’s what it is though. If not, please tell me.
fringed sage. It’s a very delicate plant. This is a close up.
The two main grasses are blue grama grass and Indian rice grass. Aren’t they soft and delicate looking? I don’t know what the reddish brown plants are.
I learned so much today about this unusual ecosystem in the park. It has so many layers and they all depend on each other.
Elevation : 8170 feet. San Louis Valley with Sangre De Christo mountains.
Tomorrow I’m off to Taos New Mexico, which isn’t too far from here.
I went out at the crack of dawn to Sand Dunes National Park and the dunes had great shadows. First I walked out to the grassy knoll to have a look at the view from there. It’s fantastic! I went back to the car and got my watercolor paper and color swatches because it’s too far to lug even watercolors over the sand. I got plenty of exercise at the high altitude walking on the sand today. People go the whole way to the top and walk on the ridge. They surf down on boards too.
I thought it would be less weight to carry if I picked a few colors of Inktense pencils. As I was working on my charcoal sketch the light changed and the shadows were gone. It was getting close to lunch time. I decided to go back this afternoon and see if the shadows looked better a few hours later.
I wish I could draw a more panoramic view. This doesn’t give you the perspective. If I drew people on the ridge they would be tiny. This isn’t as much of the mountain as I’d have liked in the sketch, but at least I got the tree line in so the altitude is showing a little.
When I left the dunes a little while ago the shadows looked dramatic again. I have one more full day that I can spend up there, then I’ll have to move on again, so I hope I can get another sketch tomorrow.
This is all Intense pencils. It was cloudy the past few times I went to First Landing State Park to work on this. The water looked smooth. I didn’t see waves from where I was standing. I always think I see two colors in the water and texture.
I worked on the painting at home for a few hours from my sketch and color notes, and went back to the beach to check my colors and values against real life. Then I came home, made some corrections and finished it.
I want to go to Pleasure House Point and try to get a sketch in between the rain showers tomorrow if I can.
I started this yesterday in Plein air and finished it at home using my Inktense pencils and watercolor in a tube for the background. I wanted to try to make the background as smooth and thin as I could. Some blossoming of the paint happened, maybe because the paper warped. I remember stretching watercolor paper long ago. I might have to look it up and see how other artists do that. Or, if any of my fellow bloggers could tell me, do you stretch your paper? and if so how? I’d be interested. It seems like extra work, like priming a canvas, but I still prime my canvases for an oil painting.
It was so nice out there today. The botanical garden had a lot of visitors when I went out to sketch this morning. I smelled the roses as I was walking in and remembered one I loved last year, the Crimson Bouquet. I wanted to find the brightest red because I’m from Lancaster Co. PA. the red rose town. York, on the other side of the Susquehanna is the white rose town.
I can’t tell if the background is working or not, but I wanted to do the minimum for it.
I’m looking forward to my art adventure in New Mexico in 2 months. I want to take all my art supplies with me on the trip but it’s not practical. I don’t know what kind of drawing or painting I’ll want to do when I see the Ghost Ranch. If I take a lot of art supplies I’ll have a bigger job unloading my trunk every night when I stop at a motel. I’m definitely taking my oil paint supplies and I’ll have to prime a couple canvases in Aug, but I’d also like to take my Inktense pencils and a watercolor sketchbook. In the meantime, if I can sketch a few flowers while standing in the shade this summer, that’s good practice. I might have better luck when I try to do a landscape with the Inktense pencils out West.
Last year I sketched waves with charcoal and chalk. This year I want to sketch them in color. I think the watercolor pencils have a grainier quality than regular watercolors. I’ll do some comparisons with the watercolors in tubes this year. It seems like I picked a difficult subject for Plein air painting because waves never stop moving. I’ll keep working on it but there are so many great views around here and I’m not on a deadline. I’ll try out my Inktense watercolor pencils drawing other scenes before I get the hang of painting of the ocean. It’s not just painting waves, it’s also that I want to paint the bubbles on the sand and that looks even more difficult.
Yesterday we had nice weather but it was too windy to stand on the beach at the water’s edge. I sat on the leeward side of a sand dune and it was great. It took me some time to plan my sketch with pencil and pick my colors from the charts I made. Then I realized I forgot to bring a piece of soap along. If you put soap on your paintbrush before you dip it in the masking fluid it saves the brush from getting gummed up and ruined. For this experiment I used my white oil paint stick on the sky as an alternative to masking fluid and used regular masking fluid to block out the white foam on the breakers.
After I got my sketch planned and picked the colored pencils I wanted to use I came home to paint this because I had enough sun. I’d buy a beach umbrella, but those things can be a hazard. I don’t need to stay out all day painting in plein air. I can go back any time. This could take months or even years, but eventually I’ll get it.
I wish I could be an abstract expressionist. Yesterday I read a blog, Vin de Vie Wine of Life, by Sarah Abraham. about an artist Oliver Lee Jackson who’s work is hanging in the National Gallery until Sept. 15. His paintings are so beautiful. At my art school, YAA, they discouraged us from that path. We had to plan our paintings. Abstract expressionism is painting from your subconscious, if I understand it correctly, and we were expressly forbidden to do that. I distinctly remember our esteemed teacher Fitzkee saying , “Don’t clean out the cobwebs from your brain on your canvas, no one wants to see that.” I understood Fitzkee’s point of view.
But last night I just wanted to have a little fun with my Inktense pencils after working on that academic exercise for hours. The old school exercises can’t hurt if I’m trying to see the colors I can make with the pencils and learn to use them, but is scribbling blindly bad for my art?
I don’t really want the viewer to see the cobwebs or worse things in my brain. I thought abstract expressionism was for the artist to communicate their emotions to the viewer, and I’m not feeling at all emotional these days. (Thankgawd for less of that) Does this little play painting speak to you at all? Should I title it, “I Find Myself Amusing” ?