Tag Archives: plein air

tiny happy people on the beach sketch

fine point pen and charcoal

The people are far away and they have to be small for the painting I’m working on. If I put closer people and umbrellas in the picture the background guys will be totally hidden. I still need to sketch some kids doing their sand excavations then I’ll have enough people sketched for the painting. At this point I’m still comparing the sizes of figures that will fit in the scene, where their heads fall compared to the horizon and where their feet are on the sand. A lot of the people are tiny tiny, as small as I can draw. The painting might be ok without any people. All it really needs is the brightly colored umbrellas and tents and a few dots for people in the water far away but I’ll sketch more and decide later. Some sand castle builders in the foreground might be nice.

This close up is larger than I drew it.

How do you like that dog? You knew that was a dog, right? Ok my job is done. hahahaha

beach sketch / charcoal

The weather has been great lately and I finally got back out to sketch at First Landing. It was crowded and I sat behind the people on the edge of a dune. They didn’t know I was sketching them. Since I was slightly uphill from them the tops of the umbrellas were below the horizon and their heads were close to the water line. This isn’t the view I need for my painting but I might be able to use it somehow for my big beach painting which is on hold until I decide how to paint people in the scene.

A cargo ship went out to sea and I hurried to sketch it. The ships look so huge right there you think they will run aground because they are so big and close up but I think that might be an optical illusion caused by the sea. I’m not sure. The way the sand juts out right there might add to an illusion. Next to First Landing State Park we have Fort Story at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, and they would let me go in to see the lighthouse. I might go in some day and see if the ships look too close but if I do go in they will check me at the guard house and do I really want to go on a military base? I saw the lighthouse long ago.

beach sketch and recent purchases for Plein air painting

This is watercolor paper with fine line markers. The paper got a little wet so it warped and you can see where I started by blocking in the general shapes with charcoal and erased it but charcoal doesn’t erase as well from watercolor paper as it does from pastel paper. It doesn’t matter. I might try to add some color to this. It’s just figure drawing practice for my beach painting which needs people.

I want to get a lot of figure drawing practice this summer and I’m kind of rusty at it. There were times in the past that I tried to draw moving figures. I think it takes a lot of practice.

I also need moving figures for my baseball game painting. I don’t know how long these paintings will take to finish. It would be better if I had around a hundred figures sketched then I could pick the best ones.

I bought these Crocs at the outlet store in Williamsburg for $42 and I thought, Wow! Crocs have really gone up! I had a pair from long ago and I remember they were cheap. Eventually I lost one in my travels. The last time I checked at the Croc store they were having a sale and it was so crowded I didn’t want to go in. They are very popular! so now I’m all trendy!

You can get them wet and I thought they might hold up well to beach erosion. The sand has ruined my other old Plein air sandals. I don’t know, I still need something else because when I walked over the burning hot sand in my Crocs it was getting in through the holes and burning my feet more than my old ruined beach sandals. But you really have to pick up your feet on that burning sand so I might give them another try because I was tired that day.

I bought this in the camp store at First Landing. They didn’t have umbrellas but I need something like this so I can go out on the beach more and stay longer and draw more. I think this is better than an umbrella because if it gets windy an umbrella might blow away but this won’t if I’m sitting in it. Plus, maybe I can spy on people and draw them without their knowing. I don’t want to worry any nervous people if I draw their kids without asking, because the answer would be no. That’s how it is but I need kid models for my painting.

This makes me tired just thinking about it. I struggled for around 1/2 hour in the hot sun trying to assemble it and took a break or two and tried again but couldn’t get it to go together right. I almost had it but not exactly. Following an instruction sheet isn’t my strong point. I know other people were watching me struggle with it probably waiting to see if I could do it. That happens a lot to your Plein air artist. People watch you struggle. hahaha You get used to it. Maybe they can’t put up the damn thing either. By then I had too much sun and my back was tired so I gave up. I didn’t get any drawing done. I’ll try to assemble it at home.

red and yellow day lilies / acrylic and palette knife

I could work on this more but I think I’ll stop now.

It was much easier painting the flowers the second time at home. I did the first coat of paint in Plein air and the paint was drying too fast. At home it dries a little slower because I’m adding more water and not standing in the sun and wind to paint.

I painted a couple dead heads because I like the contrast between the spinning bright blooming flowers and the muted colors and drooping dead heads. The gardeners like to pull the dead heads right off so the plant will bloom more but I saw a couple of them and put them in the painting even if gardeners don’t like to see them.

I decided not to paint leaves in the background because my stems and buds wouldn’t show up as well. And these flowers are taller than the leaves, so the leaves would only be on the bottom of the painting. I thought the flowers are busy enough without the additional lines of leaves. I used tints of burnt umber for the background instead of green so you could see the stems and buds better. They make a kind of linear design element that contrasts to the star shaped flowers.

To paint the background I needed a lot of paint mixed up and wanted it to stay wet for a couple hours, so I mixed a few tints of burnt umber in these little plastic cups with lids. I added more paint and water mixing my colors to have close values but not exactly the same brown to make the background have a little variation in the tints. I made the paint runny and I had these 3 cups all filled about 2/3 of the way. I have a little left over which is still wet today since I added enough water and sprayed the paint with water before putting the lids on. I could use this brown to tint another paper for another acrylic painting.

It might be more practical for me to paint at home with acrylics than in Plein air. The next painting I do will be oils and brushes instead of acrylics and a palette knife.

red and yellow spider lilies / it’s a start

This is a 16 x 20 canvas that I tinted with gray acrylic. My little black sketchbook would be too small to paint the spider lilies since I want to paint life size and not have to squish the flowers. I can fit 2 more flowers on the canvas but that will be next week. After I get all the flowers roughed in like this I’ll start some background leaves. Then I’ll go over the whole thing again. I think it will be much brighter when it’s finished.

It’s too hot out there. I can only concentrate for 1 hour in this heat and I think I’m so dedicated for tolerating the heat that long! It took me around an hour for each flower. That’s 3 drives to the garden so far and they’re gouging us on the price of gas, but I can do the second coat of paint at home. I might do a still life at home this summer to save gas, or work on my baseball scene which I can see from my balcony.

I’m not sure about continuing to paint with acrylics and a palette knife. A brush would be faster and easier. The acrylics dry too fast and even when I only squirt a little out of the tube and spray it with water the paint starts to dry before I finish one flower. With oil paint, I can mix enough of the color for all my flowers at one time and put a piece of plastic wrap over it and I don’t have to mix the color every day. Oil paint stays workable for weeks with plastic over it.

The main good thing about painting like this is I don’t have to clean brushes.

Wings of Chance / acrylic and palette knife

Wings of Chance is the name of this day lily.

The weather is much cooler today and it was cloudy. I was glad to get to the garden and paint this flower because they’re calling for rain 4 or 5 days in a row and I don’t know how much I’ll get out this week.

It will be great next week when a whole bunch of these day lily buds all bloom at once. I might get a piece of watercolor paper stretched for a painting of 3 or 5 flowers and some buds. I’ve been looking for some red spider lilies that I painted a few years ago with oils. I’d like to try again with acrylics. But what I really wish I could find is Tiger Lilies. I’ve been looking around for a few years off and on and haven’t seen any.

That was fun to scratch through the red and yellow paint. I like glomming it on thick and scratching through it and smearing it with my palette knife.

These flowers on my little black sketchbook are just for practice. When I do my finished painting I might use my cake decorating bag and pipe the stamens in the center of the flowers. Then I’ll have a contrasting sharp line next to my smears. I’m not sure if I should do the background for a finished painting with acrylics and a palette knife or if I should do a watercolor background.

Day Lily / acrylic and palette knife

A few day lilies are blooming! This one is tints of yellow ochre with a tint of a red violet line. I should have mixed some red in with my violet but it was too hot out there! I had to take a couple breaks and sit in the shade because when I was standing in the sun painting sweat was dripping onto my paper! I kept spraying my little palette with water but the paint was drying as I was working on it.

They’re calling for heat again tomorrow then a chance of rain for a few days. If I go when they open at 9 I might be able to paint another flower but if it gets later, forget about it, too hot for me! Guess I’ll have to look for shady places soon but this weather is unseasonably hot! I might have to turn on the AC! My apt. still feels ok so far but I had AC on in the car.

Oranges ‘n’ Lemons / acrylic and palette knife

The black sketchbook paper really warped when I did the background. Maybe after it’s good and dry I can weight it down and see if it will flatten. I accidentally ripped the paper twice! omg. So I taped it and painted over the rip.

It was real nice at the garden today and a lot of people were there. Oranges ‘n’ lemons is a variegated rose. The rose garden is huge! And it smells so nice!

A nice smear and thick clumps of paint

Wow! Acrylics dry too fast!! I sprayed my orange with water when I mixed up the color then put some yellow, white and dark red on my little palette and sprayed them too. First I started painting where I wanted the orange and dark red to be and left spaces for the whites and yellow. Before I got finished with the orange it was drying up already! I had to stop half way and spray again! So I picked up a few little clumps of dried paint before I finished the orange. Note the clumps! hahah

I was glad I came home to do the background because it was really messy! When I mixed up the background green I squirted out some yellow from an old tube of paint a friend gave me long ago and it was runny! So the background paint is thinner and made the paper buckle but I like the contrast between the thick clumpy flowers and the runny background.

honeysuckle / acrylic and palette knife

It was warm, sunny and humid today, some clouds , light breeze, I knew it would be crowded at the botanical garden and it was slam packed today but I wanted to check on some buds not open yet and not tomorrow either but soon, some day lilies.

I decided to try to paint honeysuckle on a path at Pleasure House Point. That path also has some pretty purple wild flowers and a tree with white flowers along with a ton of honeysuckle. It smells great! I didn’t know so many people would be on that path. I moved off the path a bunch of times for people walking through then I went to another spot where there’s more room to pass another person. A lot of people still went by me. So I finished this at home.

I’d like to do another painting of honeysuckle (my old favorite scent) but I need to find a better spot to paint. At least I got an idea of the shapes I want to make.

I really like this little black sketchbook, 5.5″ x 8″ for sketching flowers with acrylics and a palette knife. I can hold the sketchbook and my palette, which is a plastic lid, in my right hand and I’m left handed so I hold the palette knife in my left. It’s not tiring and I don’t need an easel or taboret. That makes it easier to move off the path if I want to. And I’m traveling light only taking a few colors. I’ll look for another sketchbook this size with different colored paper.

Siberian irises / acrylic and palette knife

It was nice to get to the garden and paint today. They’re predicting the next 5 days to have rain and wind.

I got into the zone painting this even though a lot of people walked behind me, I was on a little side path and didn’t block anyone’s way. Then I sat on a bench in the shade to do the background.

Do acrylics dry darker than they look wet? I was experimenting with mixing colors today. Violet is a hard color to match to nature. You can buy the brightest tube of violet but when you mix it with a little blue or a little red or white you lose some chroma. (brightness) That’s how it is with a lot of paint. With oils or watercolors you can do thin glazes of unmixed colors and the viewer’s eye will mix the colors by seeing through the glazes, and you lose less chroma. A lot of artists use the paint straight out of the tube without mixing colors to avoid the loss of chroma.

When I sat in the shade and looked at my violets I thought it needs to be redder and bluer so I mixed more colors of dark violet and mixed up a reddish violet and bluish in the light violet too. I’m hoping that the viewer’s eye will pick up the contrast between the cool violet and warm violet as chroma.

oops, slightly out of focus on the bottom of the pic

When you paint like this you get unwanted blips all over the painting. I decided to cover the violet blips with the background greens. Then I had blips in both violet and green. The paint goes on thick which is fun if you like textures but it’s just as slow for me to paint as if I was using brushes, it just comes out with ragged edges. It’s a look modern art likes, “happy accidents”. At least I don’t have to sketch them with charcoal first, just slap some paint down. With flowers, no one knows if you go off in drawing.

I could say I’m just wasting paint or I could say this is me figuring out how to do this. I could say, everything I do is a huge waste of paint. I’ve been wasting paint for so many years I can’t even remember. Or, I could say I’m creating fn masterpieces here. hahahah I will never get the answers to these questions. I’ll be dead, like Van Gogh before the jury comes in, if ever. And my paintings could be lost in time since I’m not signing most of them.