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.
The sandy path is on the left, water on the right and in front.
I like this scene for my next painting.
I took my 11 x 14 sketchbook and charcoal because I didn’t know if it was still flooded there and I wanted to sketch the flooded meadow but that has dried up again. I considered trying to sketch goldenrod but when I got this far on the path the water was over a foot deep so I sat on the sand to draw this. I was up off the path slightly. When I last saw it the water looked 3 feet deep there. That’s where the tidal water floods the path every day, but sometimes you can walk across and not get your feet wet.
2 ladies came through with 4 little kids and 2 babies. One of the babies isn’t born yet and the other lady carried a baby in a sling. The smallest kid was a little girl that looked about 3 years old and when she stepped in the water she fell down and got drenched but she didn’t cry. Her Mom said, “This is the same water you play in all the time.” Then they all waded across, a couple of them stepped on the cinder blocks which were submerged, and a couple of them walked straight through. They’re not afraid. They reminded me of myself when I was a kid and played around by the creek a lot. I fell in and got muddy every year. That’s how your plein air artist spent her carefree childhood, down at the creek, catching crayfish and making mud pies, getting stung by stinging nettles and slapping mud on the rash because mud stops the sting. Jewel leaf also stops the sting but mud is quicker, and mud is fun, but jewel leaf is pretty when you make it wet. It looks shiny and silvery. And now I’m getting old and still hanging around by the creek, only a different creek.
It was still too warm, humid and the wind was calm so the bugs were swarming me. I drenched myself in bug spray and they kept coming. I almost decided to give up but then I thought, I got the bug spray on me already I might as well see if it works. So far, I’m not itchy.
This is the second time I sketched this scene. The last time I had my 11 x 14 sketchbook that I can hold in one hand to draw, but that size makes me squish my trees too much to make them fit. This time I took my easel and drawing board with an 18 x 24 piece of charcoal paper. The larger size makes it so much easier. It gives me more sense of freedom to work larger too. I don’t know how the other plein air painters can work on their small canvases because I can’t. Oh yeah, they’re copying the pictures on their phones so the scene is small to start with. hahahah
A photographer asked me if he could take my picture and I said yes. He snapped off a dozen or so and he said he’d send them to me so if he does and if I can use them I’ll post them but I might look bad all sweaty and drenched in bug spray.
This is a better plan for something to paint in Nov. after the bugs are gone and the leaves get some color.
I was there early on 4 mornings to get this. A week or so ago for the sketch then 3 times I took my Inktense pencils. The charcoal sketch helped me decide how to draw it and it was a simple plan so I didn’t have to draw it again on the watercolor paper, I just went straight in with the Inktense pencils. It was hot and humid but I was in the shade up on the deck at the Brock Environmental Center and there was a little breeze. By 10 it was too hot to enjoy being outside.
One thing I like about the Inktense pencils is that they’re a little grainy. I draw on the dry paper then paint water on top of the Inktense and it blends out like watercolor but some of my lines don’t blend out which gives it a texture. Then I also draw with the Inktense on wet paper and that makes a darker line.
You can see a little oopsie in this close up. At the water’s edge on the sedge on the left a little blip happened. I tried to lift it but some stayed. That’s ok. Things like that show the art viewer this is done by hand. You’d never see a blip like that in a photo.
This close up lets you see my scribbles making different textures. Even the sand has texture. First I painted it solid light burnt umber but when I compared my painting to the sand I noticed the sand is soft and full of footprints which give it texture so I wanted to draw the footprints. That’s the gray circles in the sand. Am I nuts to draw the footprints? It didn’t take too long to do it.
Every day when I was there the sky was clear and hazy with only the occasional cloud. I thought it would be impossible to paint the sky hazy with the Inktense so I waited for clouds. When I got home clouds were in the sky so eventually I did the sky at home, last. It was the hardest part of the painting because I faked it. I ripped up a paper towel and tried to arrange it on the paper to decide where to put the clouds. Then I went around the paper towel clouds with blue to save white areas. I tried to smear some of the edges of the clouds and have some edges showing as more defined, then added some gray.
You can see another oopsie in the blue sky where it didn’t blend evenly. Maybe I should have worked faster. If I didn’t tell you where the mistakes are would you have noticed? It isn’t as easy to correct a mistake with watercolor media as it is to fix something with oil paint.
A few people talked to me today when I was sketching up on the deck at the Brock Center. First the skipper of the Jenny which is docked there. He told me to draw his boat. I said I might. It’s behind a barge right now. He works there. He said they’re closed because of covid. I think that’s the boat they use to reseed the area with oysters.
Two ladies were sitting on the deck in the big chairs talking and when they moved on they stopped and talked to me. They invited me to go to their church. I don’t know if I will. I gave them my phone number cause they wanted to hang out some time. That would be nice to find friends but I don’t really want to sit through church.
It was nice out again this morning. Tomorrow we have rain coming in again. I have a painting of waves that I started at home when it rained a few days ago. I’ll try to finish it at home and I have another idea for a wave painting that I’ll try to do at home if it gets too hot and humid again, which it will for sure in Aug. I want to paint waves in plein air but I might wait till fall so the bugs don’t get me on the beach at Back Bay. Meanwhile, there’s this nice view and it would be a good spot to use my Inktense pencils up on the deck where I was today. If I took my oil paints the skipper might not allow me to paint up there, but no one would object to the Inktense pencils because they’re dry. And if I use water it won’t do any damage if I drop some on the deck.
It wasn’t hot when I got there but it was when I left. Good thing I got out early.
As I was sitting there on the sand sketching, I saw a whole school of little fish jump several times. I made good progress on the sketch and then this guy started fishing there. I tried to sketch him as fast as I could. I thought it would be good to give my scene some scale. He kept moving the whole time and only cast out a few times then left. I think he didn’t want to be in my sketch.
Then the second guy came in and a boat pulled right up to him and asked him if he caught anything and he said yes he had extra fish so he gave one to the guy in the boat for free. They talked about shad which were right there.
I was excited to get some unexpected figure drawing in this morning. I want to practice drawing moving subjects as often as I can because it’s a challenge. Things like waves, clouds, people etc. Whatever is moving. If I get enough practice it will eventually improve my drawing skill.
I’d like to do a painting of this scene too. Larger, because I kind of squished the bridge slightly in this sketch.
Isn’t it funny when you’re an East coast girl and you’re thinking of putting a cactus in your painting then you see blooming cactuses on your path?
I knew they were there but forgot about them until I saw the flowers yesterday. . As far as I know, they’re not native but someone probably planted them and they spread around. I also saw yuccas in there. Maybe it was private property then, and now the Chesapeake Bay Foundation owns it.
Yesterday I checked the background for my mermaid painting and it was still too smeary to paint on. That’s the problem with painting with a palette knife, it takes forever to dry because the paint goes on thick. At least the extra time is giving me a chance to plan my mermaid. I think I’ll make her all green. I’m still not sure about what she should be holding, a crab or a cactus or a gold necklace or what. And if I do paint her holding a crab should it be a live crab which is blue or a steamed crab which is red?
It doesn’t really look exactly like this. Even though I’m trying to paint nature as closely as I can, this is still my interpretation of the scene. If you got 100 artists who are called realists or naturalists or whatever to paint here, you would get 100 different versions. If I paint the same scene in a few years it won’t look the same.
The colors in this photo aren’t as warm as they are in real life.
If you saw the previous posts, did you notice there were no trunks on the trees across the creek? What if I wanted to simplify? Just make general shapes and not do detail? Those tree trunks wouldn’t be missed but I like them there because they are a design element of short gray vertical lines that remind me of a ladder on its side.
I don’t see nature as simple so I don’t like to leave it at the underpainting stage of general shapes.
The greenish yellow bush on the right is there to break up the line of the edge of the path. As I looked at my painting last night, I decided to kill that sharp edge a little.
This scribble is a stick bush. I did that with my palette knife. It’s another design element to make the viewer’s eye go to the path since the stick bushes follow the edge of the path.
First I used my modified fan brush to go over the whole sedge field again and unify it a little. The dark shadows were too dark. The field is more even than I had originally painted it. Today’s glaze was a correction and now I think its better.
I used the edge of my palette knife to scrape in these stems for the sea oats. The vertical sharp lines here and the softer vertical lines of the tree trunks across the creek are similar design elements, one in the foreground and one in the background. It’s already there. I didn’t have to do any composition, which isn’t my strong suit, all I had to do was copy the beauty.
We have had some great weather for over a week and I hope it lasts. Today I needed suntan lotion. Soon I’ll have to bring the bug spray.
At YAA they told us we have to do a finished background, middle ground and foreground in order to do a real finished painting. This is so the viewer’s eye can find a place of interest to rest by looking into the background.
YAA wasn’t a university but more like a trade school but very intense. They wanted us to learn the ways of the old masters. It’s good to give the illusion of depth in a landscape. That happens by using the tricks to create aerial perspective. You can use the same colors you have mixed for the foreground, just add some gray to make the background color.
I know some modern artists don’t like to use gray because they fear muddy colors. You can avoid muddy colors by mixing the colors on the palette with a palette knife instead of mixing the colors on the painting with a brush. Do I fear muddy colors? Hell no! Muddy colors aren’t bad if you use them right! That said, I often spend 45 minutes or so mixing my colors and adding a few drops of terpenoid in and mixing that until it’s smooth and even. It’s a slower process than modern art where you squirt the color out of the tube and dive right in with a paintbrush.
Don’t use any gray in the foreground colors. That will help separate the background trees from the foreground trees.
I used my modified fan brushes to add the texture to the background trees and dry brushed some branches into the sky. It’s a different texture than the one I made yesterday in the sedge with my palette knife. The heavier palette knife texture is in the foreground and the lighter fan brush texture is in the background.