Sunday, January 16, 2011

Plein Air Interlude

The title almost sounds like a song played on the clarinet! We had a brief and very cold break in the weather last week. I could not resist the gorgeous light and little to no wind. I have been wanting to paint this house that sits on the road looking over the ocean. We call it the "birdhouse" because, well, it looks like a giant bird house. Wait, I will show you:
 The road is between the house and the dune grasses. This house faces the ocean, which out here, is due west. That hill behind it means that it mainly gets afternoon light. That is fine with me as I love the afternoon light. The challenge is that this time of the year the afternoon light is really brief this far north. Still, I have been wanting to paint this since I first saw it on my daily walks.
I now have my plein air gear in a special pack pretty much ready to go. I still need to get paint tubes to keep in the pack too but that is a pricey proposition at this time so I "share" the paint between my studio and the plein air pack. I grabbed my gear, bundled up and went out to about this spot on the beach. Now before you look, I have to remind you that this is only my second attempt at plein air. As the weather improves and the days lengthen, I will be getting more in. Here was the result after about an hour and a half of painting:

The tide was just at its lowest point so I had plenty of room to move back and not worry about turning my back on the ocean. The sneaker or rogue waves here are startling at times, they travel quite a distance from the surf line. I have had to occasionally run all out to avoid being drenched.
I plan to go back several times and paint this. I would like to turn this into a studio piece. I am still fumbling for the colors and since time is of the essence, I don't always get them right. I had to exaggerate a few to get them to read properly. I guess that is part of the process. I didn't have time to get the dune grasses in properly but was able to hint at the driftwood logs on the beach.
So far people have been respectful and have kept their distance from me when I am painting. I am grateful for that at this point! As I get more comfortable with the process it will be easier for me to interact with any curious onlookers. On thing I definitely learned, it is really easy to get into that zone where you are not aware of time passing or what is going on around you. After the hour and a half, I suddenly realized that the light was gone and I was painfully cold! I haven't been that cold in a while. I could barely get my gear packed up. It was a good thing to observe. I really need to make sure the ocean can't reach me when I do these paintings and take precautions! Normally I am quite aware and even if I am not looking can tell by the change in sound when a sneaker wave is coming.
When I got home I spent the evening cozied up to the fire sipping hot cider and tea. As I mentioned, I want to do a few more plein air paintings of this house and then use the sketches as reference to paint a formal piece in the studio. That will be a fun addition to the challenge!
Finally, I am going to leave you with an important piece of my vision board. A tiny bit of background first. Years before I became a weaver and now a painter, I knew(sort of) what I wanted to do and started the journey to get here. Long before it was feasible to do this, I found this picture in a magazine that summed up what I wanted my life and house to look like. I kept it all these years and had forgotten about it. It recently resurfaced in a file when I was cleaning out stuff. I put it on my vision board. I was surprised to see that I have come a long way toward achieving this. I am not quite there yet but very, very close. Weavers, note the loom in the background. That is still part of my vision even though I currently don't have the room to set up my big loom.

It looks lie this studio is facing southwest. I would definitely want west facing windows but would also want large north facing windows for that beautiful cool north light and blackout curtains for when I need them on the west windows. But, I love this picture. I had no idea when I saved it I would be making my life like this picture. The power of visions! Now it is up on my vision board where I see it daily. I have to say, I believe I have a better loom and easel than what is in the picture but, this is what I want in my life,  painting, weaving, and a beautiful studio by the sea...
-Renee

6 comments:

Theresa said...

That's a beautiful example of a Bow house. One that uses the curved trusses of ships bow or to mimic a ship for it's roofing structure. Yours looks like a complete section of the hull of the ship was used. Neat! They were quite common in New England and especially on Cape Cod. May have been some of the best examples early on of repurposing! Myself, I think it just made sense that in the 1600, the person with the best wood and skill would have been a ship builder, what better place if you were wealthy to get a roof truss system that would stand up to the rain and snow of the New England coast?
The painting is wonderful and I can see where capturing the colors could be dang difficult. Of course, who knows what color changes happen between monitors too. That is a fine subject for a studio series.
Oh man, who wouldn't want that for a studio! :)

evelynoldroyd said...

Fantastic vision! Looks very similar to one I aspire to ;) Painting plein air at this time of year - brrrr

Karen Martin Sampson said...

I too have spent a lot of time carefully envisioning my dream life (creative visualization techniques). I have managed to achieve much of this dream, although the part about being "by the sea", also my dream, is off by about 3 kilometers! Still I have a dream studio, built three years ago with enormous windows and west and north light, in this forested mountain valley in a semi remote area of N. Vancouver Island. Ocean is a 15 minute bike ride away (when weather permits). I can't complain! It took a lot of years and work and effort and pain and tears to get here, but I did! So can you.

Renee said...

Thanks for the info on the Bow houses Theresa. It makes sense since the we are right next to the ocean and boats and ships are part of the life here. It would be interesting to see the inside. There are a large number of houses that display found floats and driftwood in this area as well. I love the funky houses here and even some of the more modern ones. Not all though. Some are rather silly and don't fit into the landscape very well. The most ugliest one won some sort of design award. They said they used indigenous materials such as concrete and cedar. Since when is concrete indigenous? It looks like it sounds. Big concrete and glass cube. I guess there is wood too.

Renee said...

Karen, I know exactly what you mean about hard work and all. It makes it so worth it. Love N. Vancouver Island. It is beautiful. We lived for 23 years in Washington about 40 minutes south of the border and not too long a drive to the ferries. From reading your bio it looks like I am following in your footsteps! I so appreciate that!

Renee said...

Brr indeed Evelyn! I decided to wait just until things warm up a bit before doing that again. The weather won't always be perfect but a bit warmer would be nice.

Finally, in my response to Theresa I must admit I was being very judgmental of the modern minimalist house. I do stand by my opinion though. I find it very unappealing and out of place.

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