Tag Archives: Virginia Beach

Back Bay / charcoal and chalk

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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.

 

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Good things about having no roots

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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.

Chinese Paperbush / oil

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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.

jellyfish / mixed media

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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.img_2191

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.

Chinese Paperbush blooming / pastel study

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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.

Chinese Paperbush / unfinished

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The bush will bloom soon. I saw it last year at the VA. Tech Arboretum right across the parking lot from my apartment, but I had another painting started at the time, so I planned to paint it this winter. The arboretum is convenient  now, but I’m planning on moving again. I’m excited to try capturing this pretty bush while I have the opportunity.

There’s not many people walking in the arboretum. I  took my yard sticks along and taped my paint brushes to the sticks so I could stand back and paint ala Matisse. If anyone saw me do that they might think I was crazy. It actually made it a little easier to paint that way than it was to sketch it with charcoal from a normal  distance . I felt secluded from view between trees, too.

I need to go back tomorrow if it’s sunny and work on the bush again. The light didn’t last long but it was brightly lit for an hour.

To do the background, I went to the arboretum with my paints, pallet and pallet knife and mixed the colors in Plein air then came home and painted it from memory, with my paint brushes taped to yard sticks. I really am starting to enjoy the extended brushes.

It only took a couple days for my background  to dry. This is the traditional way of painting except for the extended brushes and thick paint in the background. I used my Maroger medium today, covering the whole canvas with plain medium and painting my branches into the medium, which is called, “painting in the couch”. The medium “couches” the paint. The old masters used some variation of Maroger medium and they also painted in the couch. It makes the canvas slick, so the paint flows nicely.

If you like the smell of oil paint you will love the smell of Maroger medium. If the idea of inhaling toxic fumes scares you, then Maroger medium is not for you. It has lead when properly made but there are different recipes. The lead in the medium won’t hurt you unless you eat it. Cooking up a batch of Maroger medium indoors could poison you. I love the stuff. It’s great for painting in plein air. When I paint at home I run my can fan, which is an industrial strength air scrubber. If my hands get sticky I just stop and wash my hands. I remember hearing stories about a guy who got lead poisoning in PA. cooking Maroger medium but mainly people at the Adamstown hat factory. That’s where the saying, “mad as a hatter” came from, lead poisoning. I feel saner than ever before in my life, so, it won’t make you sick if you use it safely.

another beautiful view of the marsh at False Cape State Park / charcoal and chalk

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This spot is good because I can get off the road without stepping in the tall grass which is home to ticks chiggers and snakes. They have benches and overlooks where you can be safe out of the grass. The marsh is on both sides of the road for miles and it’s beautiful all the way, especially with the Fall colors.  This is the best time of year to see it but they close the road for 6 months so the humans don’t scare the migrating birds.

I’m getting better at riding my bike on the gravel road. I can avoid the bumpy parts. But I’m trying to think of a way to take paint in there on my bike so I can do it in color next year. I might fill up a book with charcoal sketches  before I decide what to paint. I could take my plein air gear and paint at the Back Bay visitor center when the roads are closed because it’s real pretty right there at the parking lot too.

You have two ways to get into False Cape from Virginia Beach. First, is the road through Back Bay which is closing Nov.1, then there’s the beach. You can get there by boat, but a 3 mile walk on sand then the 3 mile walk back out would be too much beach walking for me to enjoy. Plus, the cape is around 10 miles long, so I’ll never get to the end of it on foot. I’ll go back down the East Dike Rd. on my bike in the spring. Then the West Dike Rd. will be open too. I’ve only lived at the beach for one year, so I haven’t finished scouting the whole area. There might be roads I can find leading in from North Carolina. It’s not very far.

And this isn’t the only beautiful marsh here. I’ll ride my bike down the Cape Charles trail  as long as the weather stays mild. First Landing State Park with the Cape Charles trail is closer to home than Back Bay and False Cape, and open all year. There’s a pretty marsh at the end of that trail at 84th St. It goes on for a mile or so. I’ll never get tired of looking at the wetlands.

a beautiful marsh at False Cape St. Park / charcoal and chalk

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Twice when I was riding my bike down the east dike road, a flock of small birds with light colored bellies, maybe finches, I don’t know for sure, was flying back and forth over the road and marsh back and forth swooping and dipping or kind of zipping all around me. It was CRAZY! Almost like the Birds movie! I couldn’t see whatever bugs they were after, if they were going for bugs.

I think the road closes in Nov. so I want to go back this week.