I think this was one of my first plein air sketches from Middle Creek Wildlife Preserve in Lancaster Co. PA. maybe 2006.
I want to use both sides of the paper and this will get ruined along with 2 others. They’re 7″ x 10″. I pulled an old sketchbook out of my flat file to find a piece of paper to redraw my new landscape larger on the other side. When I slap some oil paint on the back of this paper these will be lost. If you want to stop me from ruining one of these you can make me an offer, otherwise, maybe tomorrow these die.
I can’t remember where this scene was. That was around the time I started drawing in plein air so I can’t remember if I had a vacation at VA. Beach or maybe Chincoteague, because this looks like Assateague.
I have to be ruthless with my old art. I haven’t looked at these for 15 years. I won’t miss them. Anyway, I’m posting them so you can compare them to my new paintings, and so they can live on the cloud forever, at least until the electricity goes out.
This is a plan for a palette knife painting on paper. I’m going to try painting right on top of my charcoal sketch, at home, because it’s going to rain again for a few days. Luckily, I got a few colors mixed in plein air today which I can put plastic wrap on top of and they will be good for a week or more. They say the sun will come out on Sat. too, so I can get back over there and mix more colors.
We didn’t have any frost yet. The trees are showing some color but not a lot. I might fake in some fall color in the background, or I could wait and see what happens, but the beach isn’t the best place for fall colors.
I need to look at this sketch and make some decisions before I get started painting . Like exactly where to start. I mixed some middle ground tree colors in plein air but I should probably start with the sky and background. Or I could try to paint the water first. The water looks different every time I see it, so I might just wing it.
I’m not a good photographer, but this pic is too boring. I’ll get a more interesting painting if I don’t use it, I’m only showing you the photo so you can see how much my naked eye differs from the camera. Which eye is the better representation? The human eye or the camera?
I transfered those old sketches to this larger paper and made some corrections but I can see it’s not still not right, better, but not good enough. When I transfer this to a canvas and go back I’ll make more corrections and it will be ok the next time.
Perspective ain’t easy. I’m eyeballing it and drawing freehand. It’s a challenge so if I keep at it my drawing will improve for other subjects too.
I’m looking forward to painting it with a palette knife. If I told you this joint vibrates with its own weird frequency, I hope you know what I mean. I don’t believe in ghosts so that might be why I never saw one, and I spent a couple years practicing figure drawing in Hollywood Cemetery around 15 years ago. I drew the sad stone angels. They make great subjects because they never move and they’re free any time you want to sketch them. Hollywood Cemetery had the vibe of a sanctuary to me.
I felt safe at Fort Monroe the past few times I went there even though there’s a two lane street between me and the battery. There’s not much traffic. I saw a ton of cops over there too so they may be making me feel safer. I was not a person of interest this time. I parked in the real public lot across the street instead of taking an illegal spot next to where I was standing.
Every time I go out on the highway lately traffic is flying!
Fort Monroe was decommissioned in 2011. It’s one of the oldest forts. They called this spot Point Comfort when the first colonials came to VA. After their long dangerous voyage across the Atlantic they were so happy to find a good place to land.
The fort has so much history I can’t remember half of it, but I’ll give you some info and if it’s not exactly right feel free to tell me.
It was a Union held fort in the Civil War which caused VA some problems because VA. was Confederate. A lot of escaped slaves took refuge there. After the war was over those people started up Hampton University which was the first black university.
The battery is long. My sketch so far only shows about 1/5 or 1/6 of it.
I heard someone wants to redevelop the fort. The plans aren’t all laid out yet. I wonder if they’ll try to take the batteries out. Can you imagine how much dynamite that would take!? That thing is thick!
Three rivers flow together here, the James, the Hampton and the Elizabeth. From there they go into the mouth of the Chesapeake not too far down stream.
From here looking that way they could watch the famous battle of the Monitor and the Merrimack, the two first ironclad ships in the Civil War. They bombed each other for hours and neither one sank. They took a break to rearm and do repairs then they went back at it.
What did they learn from that battle? We need bigger guns.
My models are made of bronze and I’d like to paint them in bronze colors. I’m not sure exactly how yet, Which media to use, probably not oil paint. I still have to sketch the second dancing girl and she’s in a more difficult pose to draw. She’s leaning back. I’ll do it next week.
The back of the sculpture looks good too, so I might draw both sides. I’ll have to transfer the sketches to a larger paper. They’re holding hands while dancing.
It doesn’t make any difference how long it takes me to come up with a plan for my dancing girls. They’re not going anywhere. I might even wait till winter to do it so there will be less people at the garden and I won’t be in the way on the path.
Yesterday I slept too late for the best light. It was 9 when I got to the overlook. I decided not to take all my plein air supplies with me because I knew it would be crowded. I only took my color rough from the day before, my color charts and a pencil to make notes.
When I compared my rough to nature the first thing I noticed is that there’s not enough greenery. Otherwise, not too bad, I thought. So I decided to do another color sketch. Also, the ocean wasn’t sparkly at 9 like it is at 8 so that solves the problem of painting the sparkles. That wasn’t working out in my trials and I decided to forget about it until some time in the future. I might have to use oils to paint the sparkly water.
I came to another important decision. I decided to paint the panoramic scene at home. I might mess up the paper outside and can’t fix it with watercolors like I can fix a mistake with oil paint. There’s less chance of the paper picking up a smudge in the wrong place if I paint it at home as opposed to lugging all my stuff out there in my beach cart. After I get more experience with watercolors I’ll know exactly what I need to take along to paint in plein air and it will be a lighter load than taking oil paints.
If I do another rough sketch of a different area of the panorama and it looks ok compared to nature I’ll feel like I can paint it at home with more confidence. Just one more rough. I think I almost have it all worked out. I want to try to paint the thicker foliage first. This is a challenge and I want it to come out right. That’s why I’m doing so much preliminary work, the sketches, the color roughs, taking my time when making the decisions, etc.
It’s nice to have the luxury of taking my time when doing something difficult, and it’s nice to go there and walk even if I’m not working on an art project.
I don’t know if you can see it well enough in this photo. As I was working on these separate pieces of sketch paper I was putting the others in my bag loosely and the charcoal and chalk was rubbing off inside the bag. No big deal, these are only sketches that I’ll never frame. They got messed up with sweaty fingerprints too. This is 4 pieces of sketch paper each 11″ x 14″ with a 4″ piece of a gray paper added to either side because I need 64″ across for my panorama but I ran out of the tan paper.
The watercolor papers are 15″ x 22.5″ so if I deduct a few inches from 3 x 22.5″ because I’ll staple them to boards, then when it’s all finished I’ll have to trim off the staple holes, I’m figuring roughly 64″. I’ll transfer this to the watercolor paper tomorrow and I might have to redraw at the beach a little before I start painting, but the hardest part of the planning stage is under control now.
I made some notes of colors I think I’ll need. And I want to do a couple practices for that little triangle of ocean showing between the dunes on the left. The ocean looks gray and it has sparkles. It’s far away but still sparkly.
The chance of rain goes up over the next few days. I’m hoping for a blue sky with light clouds. That will be the first step in the painting. If the weather cooperates, it might not take long to paint my 3 pieces of the triptych, or it could take weeks.
I bought two big sheets of watercolor paper for my dunes now that I have a few sketches I can use. I’m planning a triptych. I want to show more sky in the watercolors than is showing in my sketches and it would be great if I could make the three paintings of the triptych look connected. The watercolor paper is larger than my sketchbook so I’ll be able to extend my sketches on both sides a little.
I’ll have to haul my watercolors supplies down a path but not real far, I/4 mile or so, I guess. I can use my beach cart. I’m not sure if I can take all three pieces out with the paper stretched on boards, or if it would be better to work on one at the beach and the other two at home. The three watercolors will be a big job for me. I’m not sure how to paint that little bit of ocean and I’ll have to decide how to do the sky.
The bugs were after me this morning. Now I’ll have to start taking bug spray along too.
This plan seems like a lot of work but I think it will be worth it. Just hanging around there is worth the drive.