Last year I sketched waves with charcoal and chalk. This year I want to sketch them in color. I think the watercolor pencils have a grainier quality than regular watercolors. I’ll do some comparisons with the watercolors in tubes this year. It seems like I picked a difficult subject for Plein air painting because waves never stop moving. I’ll keep working on it but there are so many great views around here and I’m not on a deadline. I’ll try out my Inktense watercolor pencils drawing other scenes before I get the hang of painting of the ocean. It’s not just painting waves, it’s also that I want to paint the bubbles on the sand and that looks even more difficult.
Yesterday we had nice weather but it was too windy to stand on the beach at the water’s edge. I sat on the leeward side of a sand dune and it was great. It took me some time to plan my sketch with pencil and pick my colors from the charts I made. Then I realized I forgot to bring a piece of soap along. If you put soap on your paintbrush before you dip it in the masking fluid it saves the brush from getting gummed up and ruined. For this experiment I used my white oil paint stick on the sky as an alternative to masking fluid and used regular masking fluid to block out the white foam on the breakers.
After I got my sketch planned and picked the colored pencils I wanted to use I came home to paint this because I had enough sun. I’d buy a beach umbrella, but those things can be a hazard. I don’t need to stay out all day painting in plein air. I can go back any time. This could take months or even years, but eventually I’ll get it.
I caught an altercation at the end, thought it was over, packed up the camera and one guy came back and tried to steal the whole buffet!
I don’t call myself a professional artist, here’s one reason why.
This painting is really a flop. Lucky for me, as an amateur, it doesn’t matter when a painting doesn’t work out. If I was a pro it would be a big embarrassing waste of time to goof around with something for hours, then I don’t like it. If I only knew what I was doing I could be good. Yeah, I could be real damn good, but I’ll have to practice because doing watercolors isn’t as easy as the pros make it look.
I’ve taken a couple watercolor classes in the past and I might do that again, but I have a feeling it takes years to master watercolor. I might buy some magazines and see if I can get tips. Or, if you have any advice, dear reader, I’d appreciate it.
I did this at home. I’ll go to Back Bay and try again in another beautiful spot.
Finally! I have a sketch I’d like to work into a painting from Back Bay. I’ll take my watercolor pencils and give them a try. I have very little experience with watercolors but they’re less bulky to take to a popular overlook than my oil paint supplies.
I want to explore and sketch more places there. This could take some time. Years.
The water isn’t finished in this sketch. Before I left home that day I checked the weather report and it said the wind was coming from the southwest but it would change to the northeast. When I got there the bay had nice ripple waves. First I started planning where the water would show and where the reeds would be, and the horizon. It seemed like that went fast, but when I looked at the water again it was CALM! The water looked like glass. I hate when it’s calm so I quit working on the sketch.
The weather is very important to your Plein air artist. It’s funny how fast it changes around here too. Good thing I can go back any time.
A couple days ago when it stopped raining I went down to Back Bay just to check it out and as soon as I started walking it rained again. I got soaked. I said I’d go back when it stopped raining. Then yesterday it was sunny and warm and dry but the wind was whipping. I took a bike ride anyway. I did good with the wind and even on a gravel road but the wind definitely made it more difficult. There were gusts that made me walk it a few times. And riding into the wind coming back made me too tired to sketch the beauty by the road.
I’d like to do a painting of the dark water with the almost white sedge. I stopped a few times to look at it and found a some places I could sketch on less windy days.
The water is almost black. It’s the mud on the bottom. I thought to myself, mud is beautiful. I could see layers of violet, brown red and blue to make it. Then with the contrast of the delicate grass growing in the mud and shining so brightly in the sun, it’s bleak and beautiful. Then in the background you might see trees far away or more water.
When I got back to the parking lot I sat in the car to sketch this view over the bay. Darn it, I got a little too much sun. I’ll have to stay in today which is disappointing because I want to practice drawing and painting water.
The main thing is not getting attached to stuff. Every time I move I either give away or throw away paintings. I’m tired of this one so I put it in the lobby of my apartment. Let’s see if it gets picked up. If nobody wants it by tonight I’ll pitch it. If it gets taken I’ll put another one there next week.
I’m leaving an expensive new “luxury” apt. It’s overpriced. When I signed the lease they had a security guard in the parking lot at night. Then when they had most of the apts. filled they let the guard go. Then cars got broken into. Not mine. The false fire alarms here were so annoying. It’s not only one apt, it’s the whole building and it happened about 15 times in a year and a half. Good thing I’m healthy, but I was a little worried it would scare my Mom or give a friend a heart attack when they came to visit. Then when it was time to renew the lease they wanted to raise the rent $78. I handed in my notice to vacate and started looking at other apts. Then I got an email saying they would only go up $45. I wrote back no thanks. Then I got an email saying they would go up $20. I said no. Then they said they would keep the rent the same. I said I’m out of here. I’m so glad I’m free.
I’m so glad I make all my own decisions and don’t have to listen to any drama.
I’m the freest damn yankee in VA.
1st fish : What did the fish say when it swam into a wall?
2nd fish : I give up.
1st fish : Damn
2nd fish : Two goldfish were in a tank and one says, “You man the guns, I’ll drive.”
Do you ever get the feeling a painting is speaking to you? Because I think this painting has something to say, but I can’t interpret it. It’s talking too fast.
First it’s saying something about music, then it’s something about my life. Then it’s telling me something about blooming in the winter, refreshing cool air. Something else about an altered state of consciousness that an artist gets into when they’re painting. It’s easier than you think it will be. What else?
What does it look like to you, dear reader? Is it only a representation of a pretty bush or does it have a message that you can see?
I went back to the garden 3 times since my last post to work on this in Plein air. I don’t know if you can see all the changes I made on it.
In the aquarium they’re graceful, delicate and so beautiful but they don’t look good when they wash up on the sand. In fact they look scary and gross on the beach and you might want to stay out of the water if you see them.
My models move, but slowly, so I thought it would be easier to sketch them with oil paint sticks since that medium forces me to draw faster and looser.
I sketched them on watercolor paper then painted the blue background with watercolor. The oil paint sticks resist the watercolor from going into the paper. It was almost like drawing blindfolded because I couldn’t see the white oil paint stick on the white paper even if I looked at the paper. I could see a little shine from the oil paint stick but it was dark in the aquarium so I moved back away from the jellies exhibit to see what I had and really couldn’t see it until I put the blue background on the paper over the white oil paint stick. I could see the pink sketch as I was drawing.
They have hair like tentacles which I couldn’t draw with my thick clunky oil paint sticks but I like the texture of the paint sticks on the watercolor paper.
The aquarium has a real laid back atmosphere and zen sound effects. They have some great marshy overlooks outside on a nice trail. It gets crowded in the summer but I can sketch more for a couple months without getting in the way of others.
I’m excited because in March I’m moving again. This time within a mile of the oceanfront and only 3 miles from the aquarium. I’ll be able to bike over to the aquarium because the road has a wide sidewalk the whole way. I’ll be able to walk to the ocean, the Neptune Festival, shopping, dining, etc. I’ll be much closer to Back Bay too, but it will take longer to drive to the botanical garden.
For some odd reason, dirt was falling out of the tree behind me. I was glad I had my hat on but I couldn’t keep my paper clean. That’s Mother Nature for you, dropping mud on your head. How does she do it? 😉
Finally, I can finish my painting of the Paperbush. I’ve waited all year for it to bloom. A few years ago in the winter I followed a sweet smell to a Paperbush in Richmond. At the time I was working on a painting and didn’t want to start on the Paperbush. I thought I could do it the next year, but the next year I searched for the bush and it was gone, sacrificed for a big landscaping project. I was sad. Then I moved to the beach and was so happy to see another Paperbush in the arboretum next door, but once again, I had another big project in the works. So, this year I planned to paint the bush and it feels like a long time in the planning and now it’s going to get done.
I’ll practice sketching the flowers again tomorrow if the weather holds out, then I can finish the painting. Today I sketched the flowers close to life size but I’ll have to paint them smaller and won’t be able to get in much detail. That’s ok, if I practice drawing them life size it will be easier to paint the basic shapes later.