Tag Archives: plein air

beach goldenrod / charcoal and chalk

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.

flooded path / charcoal and chalk

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.

dune and bay sketch / charcoal and chalk

Today I walked all the way through the campground with my sketchbook charcoal and water bottle to see the view from the farthest yurt, #1. I was glad I waited until this afternoon because I think they had some rain over there this morning. There were puddles and the big chairs at the yurt were wet. I mainly wanted to get some exercise because it’s going to rain tomorrow and Sun.

Sketching is progress even if I never use the sketch for a painting. I can’t get too much practice. It would be a long haul to take paint that far from the car even with my beach cart. I’d still like to hang around all the yurts when they’re not occupied and do more sketching this fall. That’s the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on the horizon.

I think I’ll try to paint Lynnhaven Inlet next but I wasn’t ready to start on another big project today. Maybe Mon.

Life’s not easy if you’re a pine tree on a sand dune. / oils

Trees are like people.

I spent roughly 20 hours on the dune next to this tree and I was only trying to capture it’s image but when I got home I kept thinking about the tree, like the tree was communicating with me by mental telepathy or something! nah, I’m kidding. This is what the tree would like to say.

The sand doesn’t have enough nutrients. The wind is trying to blow me down all the time. Someone called me scraggly and now I have a low self esteem. I won’t live as long as other pine trees or ever get tall.

And still, the scraggy little tree lifts it’s dead bleached arms to the sky like a person who suffered but doesn’t give up hope.

There’s something going on in the shadows and places where you can see the dune grass through spaces between branches. It’s heavily textured.

You can’t go down the dune through the grass filled with burrs and give the tree a hug. The tree is prickly too, not to mention that’s a steep drop off and you have to climb back out.

You want to remind the tree that it is on prime real estate with a better view than most pine trees have and its head is above dune level.

Plus, the tree has a lot of grace, like people who have lived through some bad stuff. Then when something else bad happens, those people don’t freak out in the next dangerous situation. Like the tree, they remember a worse storm. And people or trees that had it easy fall apart under stress.

windswept tree painting progress report

This is how far I got on it after 4 mornings of going out on the dune to paint and staying for 2 or 3 hours each time. It was sunny and not hot so, very enjoyable out there. My Gluteus Maximus had a workout 4 mornings in a row hauling my art supplies up the dune on the deep soft sandy path. The beach cart makes it possible but not easy. And I have a dark tan, which is really only a darker shade of red because I don’t tan well. It doesn’t feel sunburned. They’re calling for cloudy and rainy days all week. bummer, because I’m almost finished with the painting. I could finish it this week if the sun comes out. I hope they change the weather forecast. I guess there are plenty of things for me to do at home that I neglected lately because this painting took a lot of energy last week.

The tree is still only roughed in. I had to work on the background first. I considered finishing it at home but most of the time when I work on a painting at home, when I get back to the scene I don’t like what I painted at home.

windswept tree underpainting / oils

It was real nice out on the dune this morning and yesterday. I’m excited that I got this far with the painting. Maybe tomorrow and Sun. I can make more progress.

I have two coats of paint on the sky and I’m going to call the sky finished. Before I paint the tree I need to work on the opposite shore, the sand, the water and the grass again and let it all dry a little so that when I paint the bare branches over the sky and water they don’t smear.

I changed my mind about adding a kite surfer into the picture. This painting is all about the tree. I’ll try painting a kite surfer another time.

The branches and sticks will be the last to paint along with the pine needles.

wind swept trees second sketch

This time I had a larger paper and liked my sketch more than the first try. I might be able to use this one for a painting since my tree feels less squished and more more wind blown.

There was a nice breeze and a few guys kite surfing. They’re just tiny tiny figures out there. I was thinking about putting a kite in the painting. I’ll have to move him in more off the edge of the scene. He’s so small on the paper I’m not sure I could paint him with Inktense pencils or watercolor. I might use oils for this.

There are some buildings in the background on the left. This photo cuts off the buildings a little. It also cuts off some dune foliage that is in the tall grass. I was thinking of leaving the buildings and other foliage out of the picture, move the tree a little to the left so the kite surfer has more room. The dune grass blowing in the wind is shiny and soft looking, so that will make a nice contrast in color and texture to the pine tree. You can see a little of the sandy beach in the background too.

I need to get out there a little earlier if I use oil paints because it could take some time to mix colors. I’ll do an underpainting, maybe start tomorrow.

That’s my plan, all worked out and ready to start on the painting. I had to do the second sketch to make those decisions.

windswept pine tree on sand dune / charcoal and chalk

It’s really nice out today. I knew where I wanted to go but not what I wanted to draw, so I took my 11 x 14 sketchbook. I walked on a sandy path over a dune to the beach. I usually bypass that path for the easier path. This tree is in between dunes. You can see the sky and bay behind it with shoreline. The dunes on this side are covered with pretty soft looking dune grasses but you can see sand too.

This might make a good subject for a palette knife painting because of the pine needle texture. I could use a larger canvas.

sketch at the bay / charcoal and chalk

Sketching was good therapy today. I watched a scary series on Netflix, Squid Game. It was made in S. Korea and dubbed in English. Man! Was that weird. Have you seen it? They don’t start killing people right off the bat. First they lure you in with good characters and an interesting story. It has some arty scenes too. One reminded me of an M. C. Escher stair case. So when the murders start you might want to look away but you don’t turn it off because you want to see how they get out of there.

I was feeling the after effects of it this morning. I mean a slight weird mental thing. The story gives you a lot to think about later. They could have extended the series by giving a back story on the bad guys who are dressed in red and wearing black masks with either a red triangle, square or circle on the mask. You get the feeling the bad guys are victims too.

so, I finally hauled myself out to the beach to draw and that helped me feel more sane.

The wind was light from the East, the waves were small. A ship came in. That ship was easy to draw. The beach wasn’t crowded. Some clouds rolled in. I hope the wind picks up tomorrow because I’m waiting for the kite surfers to come back.

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.