Tag Archives: plein air

Behind Dunes @ Back Bay / oils

I took these pix on my balcony in the shade but the colors are better in the sun, warmer.

Close up of sedge, reflections and water

Every time I go there the water is different so I decided that when I was ready to paint water I’d paint it however it looked that day. When I got there today it was almost calm then a little breeze came up but it only broke the water a little.

Water, sedge and reflections.

You can see grass stuck on the wet paint in these photos. It’ll come off when it’s dry.

Water with reflections, sedge, background trees.

I think the smoother textures of the reflections and water look good next to the heavy textures of the sedge and trees.

This was fun to paint and not too difficult. It used up a lot of paint, though.

Back of the Dunes painting update

The sky, background dunes and trees are finished. The water has one coat of paint on top of the underpainting but still needs another layer. The sedge is still in the underpainting stage. I need to work on the sedge before I finish the water.

It took a while to mix the colors I wanted for the gray and brown dunes. The greens were easier to mix but still took some time. When I get the right color I still take more time to work the paint by adding drops of Terpenoid and mixing it in until the paint is evenly runny. Mixing and working the paint is half the job.

A piece of cut grass is sticking to the wet paint but it will come off when it dries.

The real fun part is blobbing down the paint with my palette knife then smearing and scratching through it with the palette knife.

I’m excited about how this is going. I think it will work out!

The first 3 times I was there getting started on this, it was cloudy but the sun finally came out and really brightened the scene. I like the bleak look of the cloudy days, but the sedge is freakin’ gold with the sun on it. Maybe I can finish the painting this week. Tomorrow is supposed to be cloudy then we get more sunny weather for a couple days before it rains again, if the forecast is right.

Back Bay underpainting and wild sea oats

It was a little windy when I got out of my car and this canvas paper flipped out of the tape. The clamps kept it from flying down the parking lot. I got some fingerprints and a few pieces of grass in the sky when I added more tape. That’s ok. I need to go over it again anyway. When it’s windy I don’t stand up my easel, I sit on beach towels and prop it up on my beach cart.

A Great Blue Heron is hanging around in there every time I’m there. I saw him catch some fish. I was thinking of painting a heron in the scene since I have a few sketches of them. All I need to do is match the grays when I’m there in Plein air.

The whole scene is mostly gray and brown and blue but I’ll be able to brighten it up a little more than it is at this step. I don’t want to force color into it, though. Nature is elegant in its true colors even in the winter, as I see it.

I did this underpainting with brushes and some of the paint that was left over from my trip to Maine in Oct. was still wet enough to rework for this. The little blobs of left over paint were under squares of plastic wrap. I want to paint the next layers with a palette knife. I like the palette knife because I don’t have to clean brushes.

These are wild sea oats. Most of the fuzz is gone but they still look pretty by the road in the sun. I see a different variety in yards that still have the fuzz and they are shaped more like long ovals than these narrower wild ones. If I can pick one of the cultivated type without getting in trouble I’ll post it. I’m not sure if I can keep these long enough to sketch them. We’ve had a lot of cloudy weather and not too cold and not much rain. Wind is coming in soon with rain.

Canoe Launch Frozen / charcoal and chalk

It was a perfect day to draw or paint the water at Back Bay. It’s frozen! That makes it so easy! We had some big arctic wind and cold but not as bad as a lot of the country and now it’s back to normal for winter chill with highs in the mid 40s today and warming up more tomorrow.

A lot of people were there today. I sat in my car to sketch but if I do a painting I can use a bench right there.

This might be something I could paint in watercolor because it looks simple. I don’t know what I’ll do if the water gets wavy when it warms up.

It’s a monochromatic scene at this time of year, mostly gray.

I heard a big flock honking far away and couldn’t see them. I’ll try to remember to take my camera in case I can get a pic of them flying. I don’t know what they were, geese, I guess.

Pretty backwater at Back Bay / charcoal and chalk

This is a new plan for a painting at a spot I admired many times but thought it would be better in the winter because it’s next to a gravel road about 50 yards from the parking lot and in the summer a lot of people are walking or biking past. Today I had it to myself for a while and got started on the sketch. I need a larger paper or canvas and I might go back tomorrow.

It’s a little cold and windy but sunny and will be the same tomorrow but we have wind and rain coming in a couple days then it’s going to get colder.

You can’t tell much from this sketch. It’s the leeward side of sand dunes with rows of scrub brush and marsh grass and the water looks black. It’s not really black but the bottom might be. This water flows in and out with the tides. It’s kind of bleak. I bet I could paint it with only a few tubes of paint because I like the stark beauty of it and don’t want to force color into the scene. It’s mostly gray greens, white sand, blue sky and the sky reflects on the black water, and the sedge which is yellow ochre kind of. Painting the water might be a challenge.

I saw a lot of real pretty sea oats with the sun shining through them and was wondering if they would look good in a vase. They’re taller than me so I’d have to cut the tops off and bring them home. Then the sun won’t be on them unless I take them out back to the baseball diamond to paint a still life. That would be funny, setting my vase on something out there to paint it. People walk through all year but not tons of people.

And I’m not sure about that gravel road to this spot with the black water. They might close it when the birds migrate. That would be a bummer if I start a painting then they block it.

Right off the bat your Plein air artist has to make all these executive decisions, hahahah

Indian Summer at the Tide Pool

I could work on this more but I’m calling it finished. I learned a lot.

The water looks different every time I go there and I’d change it but I’m not sure exactly how to do that so I’m stopping now. Water is a difficult subject for me to represent but the more practice I get the better. Some day I’ll say, “Yes, I nailed it.” The wind, current and sand bar keep changing the direction of it but it has many textures and colors that are hard to match.

A couple people talked to me yesterday and one guy said he paints murals. He was particularly interested in this part of the painting. It probably looks like I painted a lot of skinny lines but it wasn’t that hard to do since I used my palette knife. The trick is to make the paint runny and put down small blobs of paint then scrape through them with the palette knife.

That guy told me to take my art to the local nonprofit and I said no, I checked them out and they are the same as Richmond. They will take my entry fee and not hang my painting. I know already. If all the artists are doing fast easy paintings and asking $100 and I enter a difficult painting that took months and ask $1000 it will be rejected. He told me it’s the same for muralists and his entry fee is $50. And they don’t like his style or something. Also, I don’t want to pay $35 to get my name on the Plein air group email list because I don’t need the group and don’t want to enter the juried shows, so, it was good to talk to someone who knows what a rip off the art world is. I mean, if you know the cards are stacked against you how many times are you going to throw away the money?

The masking fluid worked to help keep my little figures from getting lost in the different textures of paint. I saved them after doing the people in the underpainting stage by covering them with masking fluid then after finishing the water and sand underpainting I peeled off the masking fluid and they needed touch ups but they aren’t too weak. If I tried to paint them on top as the last step they would show the other paint textures underneath.

The figures were a difficult part of it and had me hung up for some time until I could get a plan worked out. And the weather stopped me from working on this because it’s easier to mix the right colors in Plein air than it is to mix colors at home.

The whole painting is done with a palette knife except the figures. I used a brush for them and I think that was a good idea. There are art critics who think a palette knife painting shouldn’t have any brush work and there are critics who are purists that think digital manipulation of a photo is a no no. Some artists think using white paint is cheating in a watercolor. I don’t care about those rules. At the academy they said you should vary your brush strokes to add interest and create focal points. My old teachers who were harsh critics might not complain about me mixing a palette knife and a brush in the same painting or using masking fluid to keep my figures stronger.

Painting with brushes is easier than painting with a palette knife. The palette knife goes out of control more often. See the spooky house? I messed it up and didn’t feel like fixing it. It’s not spooky in real life but I am. hahahah This is why an artist’s life comes out in a painting even if you don’t want it to. If you are an artist who had some weird things happen to you in the past like I did, maybe you get obsessive about that stuff and wish you could “live in the present.” I say, if you’re obsessive about something you should keep trying to work through it. Eventually you can accept it and learn some life lessons from it. If you try to stop your brain from the bad memory you won’t ever get the lessons. The good thing is that sometimes dark stuff shows up in your paintings and you know where it comes from but no one else does but they might notice the dark and it will be interesting to the art viewer. You can use that. Know what I mean?

This is the medium I wanted to try to use. It doesn’t work for painting in the couch like my Maroger medium that I use for oil paint. To paint in the couch is great because you put a layer of medium on the dry painting and paint on top of it. The medium “couches” the paint. Maroger medium makes the surface slick and you have practically no drag on the brush but this stuff dries too fast to work like that. Also, this medium dries a little cloudy and Maroger dries clear.

The masking fluid worked as I planned and my little plastic cups kept the paint wet for weeks! Those were some of the questions I found the answers to through this painting.

Tide Pool painting debriefing / close ups only

When I went out this morning to paint, the sky was pretty with thin wispy white clouds on blue sky and I decided to go over the sky on my painting again to make it more interesting. It was fun mixing up a runny light blue and a runny white, scraping the two colors on top of my underpainting and smearing them a little then blotting some off with paper towels.

I don’t throw away paper towels from my fast food lunches. They’re not very absorbent but I can use them to blot paint or wipe off my palette or palette knife. This whole painting is a palette knife painting but I might use skinny brushes to redo the figures.

One of the jurors in Richmond that liked to reject my paintings from the juried shows told me, “Don’t mix two styles together.” And I was like, wha? I don’t even know what style is what. I guess since this is a palette knife painting I shouldn’t use brushes at all but I’m going to.

After I got my sky to where I can call it finished I knew I really need to go over the whole section of background trees again. We have a week of cloudy rainy weather coming in, if you can believe the forecast.

You can see the sand in the paint. It’s ok. That’s all the proof you need that this is an actual Plein air painting.

I like the clouds without any sharp edges because I don’t see clouds with sharp edges in nature.

I’m calling this tree in the middle ground done, and maybe the grass is done too.

So, I guess if I had to name my style I’d have to call myself a realist most of the time, because I try to match the colors of nature, but they are still not exactly realistic.

Sedge and sand.

If you really want to do realism, copying a photo won’t do the trick. The camera has its own realism and the naked eye has its own realism. Neither one is exactly real no matter how hard you try to represent accurately. Real is something between the naked eye and the camera but not exactly either one as far as I can tell.

Sand, sedge, reflections on water, nearest tree in top left of the photo still unfinished.

I don’t know about you but half the time I can’t tell what’s real in life and what’s fiction, so how can you tell what’s realism in a painting? No matter how real I can make it, my own interpretation of real is how it ends up. I mean, even if I’m trying to copy nature to the best of my ability this is still my interpretation and if you got 100 realists to paint the scene the paintings would all be different. Or maybe the juror who knows styles would say this isn’t realism at all! Who knows. I hope you know what I mean. Everything is each artist’s interpretation no matter how much you try to be realistic your own self, life, experiences or whatever, shows up in the painting.

Tide Pool painting progress report

This only needs another 6 or 8 hours to finish. I think it will work out. I have a start on the water but need to go over it again along with the whole painting which needs another coat, except I’m finished with the sand , probably. I’ll decide later.

I peeled the masking fluid off my figures and I think it worked. You can see where some paint got through the masking fluid on her shirt but that’s ok, I was planning on going over the figures a second time. I can make it a little neater, next time it rains and I can’t go out to paint.

The little boy is in the shade but I could make him brighter and more clear when I do another layer. I need to do a touch up so his sand castle is showing up from the rest of the sand.

Oops, don’t worry, I can fix it. She’s messed up but she could be a good focal point if I make her look better.

I still have some of these colors that are staying wet in plastic tubes. I open the tubes and spray water in when I don’t use them for a few days.

I think this figure will still show up when I go over the water again and give it waves, but first I want to put another layer of color on the figures and then put more masking fluid on top to protect it from the paint mess that will happen when I do the next step.

The weather has been really changing a lot lately. We have a cool sunny day followed by a warm cloudy day and some rain then sunny and cool again for the past couple weeks.

Tide Pool painting update

I didn’t start on the water yet because I need to plan a few hours to get it going and it would be easier to see with the sand painted first. I’m excited I got this far. This is probably over half finished but I need to go over the whole thing again, not sure about the sky and sand but they might be ok like this. I was planning on putting some marsh grass on the sand in front of the big tree on the left.

Every time I go there the water is different. Today it was calm and reflections were on the water but most of the time when I’m there I don’t see a lot of reflections except on the closer shallow water on the left .

When I started the background a couple weeks ago we didn’t have as much fall color and now more is showing. The first time I painted it I used a light gray green and yesterday I added some shades of orange on top of the green. I want to brighten up the orange a little more and do more on the whole background then when it’s dry, make a thin glaze to go over the whole background and try to give it some aerial perspective. Still a lot more to do on the background but this is ok for a start.

You can hardly see the little boy working on his sand castle but he’s under a layer of sand colored paint with a coat of masking fluid over him. That’s the top of his little round head on the tan tinted canvas paper. When I start on the water I’ll cover his head with light blue and when it dries peel up the masking fluid and it will be like Christmas if it works and my little boy becomes visible. I hope you can see what I’m talking about. I think it will work and I can pull my little figures out. I think it will work.

The grays and brown scribbles over her head are wet sand and it will have bright reflections of water. Then the tan paper will be blue and I’ll be able to take the masking fluid off her too. Sand is sticking to the masking fluid and it’s all over the painting. The more layers of paint you put on top of masking fluid make it harder to peel off and the more time you let it on the paper makes it harder to get off too. Sometimes when you try to peel off the masking fluid the paper rips. We’ll see. Everything’s an experiment and might not work out as hoped. I did a little masking fluid and acrylic experiment before and it wasn’t bad but this is still iffy.

Tide Pool painting update

I’m not even finished with the underpainting but the figures hung me up for a while. I used my sketches and worked at home using my palette knife. I drew the figures again with charcoal on the canvas paper trying to get them a good size for the painting. Then I had to decide on the colors which is much easier if I have a live model. Drawing small is harder than large to me.

I’m going to try masking fluid on acrylic next. I think it will work. If I block out the figure with masking fluid I can paint sand or water color right over top of the figure and when the paint is dry peel off the masking fluid to show the figures as I painted them here. It might be easier than painting the sand or water color right up to the edge of the figure evenly.

Little boy building a sand castle.

I’ll paint over the figures again but it will be the last step.

The boy is sitting on wet sand. That’s what my charcoal shading represents.

You can still see some of my charcoal outline of the figure but that will go away with water colored paint.

If this works my 3 figures will be focal points. I tried adding a small figure into a scene as the last step one time when I was using oil paints a few years ago and didn’t think the figure showed up enough from the background so this time I’m getting the figures under painted first. Sometimes I stop working on a painting and lean it up next to the wall where I can see it and it might take me a long time to decide on how to proceed but I already have a lot of time in this so I would rather take the time to decide and it will have a better chance to work out.