Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter at Hug Point

© 2013 R.L. Delight, Hug Point Study, 6"x8", oil on canvas
Yesterday the weather was sublime. We hit 70 degrees on our front porch! That is summer weather around here and not a common occurrence in March. Suddenly I "misplaced" my to-do list and decided that reading a book in the front yard was the most efficient use of my time.*
Today the weather changed again. I purposefully took Friday and Saturday off to get things done so I could start this week with today. The tides were below zero feet, otherwise known as a minus tide and the weather forecast called for sun so perfect conditions for painting at Hug Point. Lowest tide was at 10:35 am so I headed out the door at 8, along with my mate, to have plenty of time to paint before the tide turned. Alas, as often happens in this area, coastal fog has set in. I still went to paint as you can see from the picture above. It was cold though. This is a one hour study and I was shivering by the end of it in spite of my layers. I decided we should go back home even though I had planned to do another one hour study.
I have written about Hug Point before. It is a magical place but can be tricky. The last time I went the tide and surf were too high to paint this scene of the old road bed over the ocean. That is what this painting is, a portion of the view of the old road bed that used to be the only way to get a vehicle or horse down the coast. It was dangerous then as well and you had to time it right to cross before the tide came up. Certain times of the year it became impassible. At least, that is what I have read.
Here are some photos I took so you can get an idea of the scale of the place:
Hug Point road bed looking Northwest
Hug Point cliffs. Taken with back to the ocean on a misty foggy Easter day
Hug Point. Road bed along lower left of the cliff.
The cliffs on right side of this picture are riddled with caves which is how far back the waves go when the tide is high.
Hug Point roadbed from beach looking Southeast.

I will be painting at Hug Point again. Going there is bewildering because there is so much to paint. I could easily spend years, and hopefully will, painting there.
The waves were quite puny today. One of the drawbacks to painting at such a low tide. The fog obscured what little there were. This isn't too much of a problem since the surrounding scenery on the Northern Oregon coast is nothing less than stunning even on a bad day.
I haven't decided where to paint tomorrow but will probably get some wave studies in.

* I was reading The International Bank of Bob by Bob Harris. Highly recommend it, specially if you participate in making Kiva loans or are curious about it. It can get a bit gritty in some spots but leaves you with hope and faith in the world.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Wave Study #44

©2013, R.L. Delight, Wave Study #44, 6"x8", oil on canvas
This wave study was painted yesterday immediately following Wave Study #43. The tide was rapidly going out by this time. The sun had mostly disappeared and the angle of the sun had changed. No luminous light shining behind the waves or on the waves for that matter. There was enough blue in the sky to change the colors of the sea a bit.
I never get tired of watching the ocean. Ever changing it is.
I went out with the ambition to paint three wave studies today. The sun was even brighter. Alas, I got the the beach and set up and a stiff wind suddenly sprang up. I couldn't hold on to umbrella and my easel at the same time. I have some new equipment in mind but will have to sell a few paintings first to buy it.
The equipment I have at the moment is a Best Brella plein air easel umbrella and a Guerilla Painter thumbox mounted on a heavy duty tripod. The umbrella got very good ratings and came with a nice clamping system but, it was not designed to withstand conditions on the coast, hence my Tinker Toy fix and other issues. I may have to come up with a solution unique to the area. I sure would have loved to stay out painting today but the sun was too bright on my easel set up to not paint with the umbrella.
The thumbox screws to the camera mount on the tripod and unfortunately is just too lightweight to hold still when I paint. I usually have to hold one side of it while painting.
I got a sky in before the wind hit and I am sure I looked pretty comical with my body bent at an odd angle, one arm looped around the umbrella with the same hand holding onto the easel while trying to get some additional color notes down. I quickly packed up and then sat in the sunshine and sketched and observed for a while.
I will be taking my weekend tomorrow and Saturday. I still have some organizing to do to paint full out without distractions. Sunday there will be a minus tide at a decent hour in the morning so I will be heading to Hug Point to try to get in the less accessible areas. The weather forecast looks good too.
Keeping my fingers crossed on that!
In the other areas of my life, my dressform arrived yesterday and I got it adjusted with the proper measurements. I will be posting about that on my clothing blog, The Artful Stitch, and starting to sew this weekend!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wave Study #43 and the Reason Behind the Madness.

©2013 R.L. Delight, Wave Study #43, 6"x8", oil on canvas, one hour study.
Today was a challenge to paint. I think the sun came out once every 5 minutes and the colors would change and shift. When the clouds covered the sun again, the colors would be different than before. In addition, I got to the beach at the turn of the tide and it was going out for most of my painting session. That said, the most amazing colors kept popping out. I tried to capture some of them here.
We live by a green sea. It is rarely blue due to the sky which is usually cloudy. Even when the sky is clear and blue the sea retains some of its green amidst the blue.
I thought I would re-cap and explain what I am trying to achieve with these wave studies and even a bit of what I am not trying to achieve. I do this as much for my own benefit as to address some of the input I have received from various sources outside of this blog.
I want to be able to paint the sea, in all her moods and aspects, with knowledge and ease. Well, perhaps with relative ease. I combine knowledge here with the relative ease because I am not looking for a formula, I am looking for truth and beauty. The only way I know to do this is to simply get out and paint...And study, and watch, observe, reflect, absorb, and just plain allow myself to see, which is easier said than done. I believe by doing this, it will become part of me and unique, like my handwriting and will allow me to tell the old, old stories that need to be told and retold.  Who knows? The survival of the people and living beings on this planet may depend on it!
I truly believe that the cool breeze, warm sunshine, cold mist, drenching rain, stinging hail, shrieking wind, rogue waves, smell of seaweed, the roar and sudden clap of the waves, the hiss of the foam, the eerie sound of wood and stone rolling in the water, stranded salps and jellys, broken shells, whole shells, piles of driftwood, huge tangles of bull kelp, flotsam and jetsam, flora and fauna, both living and deceased, and lets not forget the sand, all, ALL of it goes into a painting when you live it. I do not believe I have the skills to capture all of that from a photograph. I don't believe anyone can get those skills without study from life first. There is a time and place for photo references but my wave studies are neither.
That brings me to the word study. These are not finished paintings. These are experiments and practice. These are like when basketball players shoot baskets over and over again. One of these days, some or all of these studies will find their way into a full fledged painting. A painting carefully conceived and created. In fact, one of these is being born in my studio at the moment! I write this more to remind myself. Sometimes I catch myself getting too caught up in making the study pretty instead of seeing what I really need to paint and trying or failing to paint it. That is part of the process too I suppose.
I think the best compliment I have received on a seascape is when someone tells me they can see, hear, smell, or feel the cold, salt, waves, water, etc. of the ocean in my painting. It is very humbling when someone tells me that. 
Of course, I always appreciate the responses to my paintings and consider every point that you all bring up! I specially appreciate when someone sticks their neck out and tells me why, or why not, they like or don't like a study. It truly helps (Please be gentle, firm is ok too but gently! ) I do my best to get my ego out of the way and listen as these responses are genuine.
Well, this has been a long post. I surprised myself with the passion that got unleashed when I started writing. I think if you prick any artist, craftsperson, or lover of beauty, you would get a similar response.
For those of you that made it this far, a thousand thank you's! I am grateful for all the wonderful people I have met through this blog and other social media. I learn so much from everyone. The next post will be shorter. I should probably work on something funny to say too!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Stepping Beyond the Study: Wave Study #42

©2013 R.L. Delight, Wave Study #42
I almost called this post "stepping off the cliff" but didn't want to unduly alarm anyone as I realized that is a possibility around here, one I intend to forgo. This painting was actually a wave study I did after Wave Study #40. It probably should have been #41 but I wasn't happy with the first attempt so I put it aside.
Today, due to tides and scheduling, I worked in the studio and I decided to take this study and play around with it. Looking back I should have taken a before and after picture but I unintentionally neglected to do so. I asked a whole host of what ifs and tried them out on the painting. Some had to be removed or worked over and some stayed. I played with brush technique, color, value, edges, and color temperature. I had a very relaxed and enjoyable time as I wasn't concerned about the outcome of the study. The study is just, is what it is. The bones of the painting, or the drawing, is about all that remained the same.
I like the idea that there is no failure, only things to be learned.
I have another of these studies, actually two more, that I have kept with which I will do the same. Next time I will remember to take a before and after photo. I learned a lot from doing this exercise.
The tides will be giving me some good opportunities to paint in the coming week. I am still working on some longer paintings that I will eventually be sharing the progress on.
Today was a cold, rainy, and dark as the painting above looks. Hopefully the weather will be kind while I am out painting this week.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Wave Study #41

© 2013 R.L. Delight, Wave Study #41, 6"x8", oil on canvas
It seems the weather cleared up just in time. This morning was calm, cloudy with occasional sun, and a bit on the chilly side but good painting weather. The waves were so-so but, good enough to study. I still have a bit to go to achieve and understand what I want to. I am getting faster at painting waves. Must be all that practice. This one was painted in an hour plus. As I get faster, I can get more information in and work on values, brushwork, color, etc. Of course, I still have those times when the painting just plain fails. I learn from those too but they aren't as much fun.
I had a challenging time getting started this morning. Our band rehearsal went late last night. I need to get enough sleep in order to get out in the weather and paint anything resembling what I see in front of me. As a result, I got a later start than I wanted to. My turps (OMS) in its leak-proof, sealed container...leaked. Of course, I had just refilled it with fresh.  My pack took a header in the car and ended upside down on the floor. I don't know why I didn't set it on the floor as usual. I think the force of falling upside down  might have loosened the seal and allowed the container to leak. Fortunately I don't trust things like that in general and had it in a zip lock bag, which, considering the age of the bag, it is amazing that it managed to contain the leak. No turps were leaked or spilled onto the beach.
The same incident with the pack caused my freshly laid out paint on my palette to slide and mix with one another. That is a first for me too. I also managed to drop the lid to the turps container into the sand, wet side down.
Fortunately I was in a philosophical mood and just shrugged it all off, cleaned up as best I could and got the above painting!
It is spring break time around here which means a lot of families with kids and dogs wandering up and down the beach and our one main street in town. One beautifully freckled little girl very earnestly interrupted my concentration to tell me that my painting was very very good. She had snuck up on me and I didn't know she was standing there. I gave her a smile and a thank you and she went on her way.
I had an appointment this afternoon up the coast so I was only able to get the one wave study in but it is good to be back in the saddle after my mini break from wave painting with a lot of exciting things to come.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Life Drawing and a Deep Breath

© 2013 R.L. Delight, 30 minute pose, charcoal on toned paper.
I guess I should give a heads up. Anytime there is "Life Drawing" in the post title, you will be seeing drawings of nude people.This got pretty smudged up on the walk home. I hadn't intended to take a picture of it but after thinking about it, thought I would post it.
I sure wish life drawing were mandatory in all schools. Perhaps if it were many more people would see the incredible beauty of the human form, both female and male, in all its variety. I think we would have a lot more respect for our own bodies no matter what the shape and color, and the ridiculous, narrow, confining, and sometimes insulting*, definition of what female (and male) beauty that is held up as a standard today would be seen for what it truly is, a blasphemy against nature (or your choice of diety).
OK, stepping down from my soapbox now. I always feel that way after a life drawing session as I am always awed anew at the beautiful human form. I have drawn all ages, shapes, colors, sizes, and genders and have yet to not feel that awe.
I am improving, slowly as I don't get to life drawing as much as I would like to. That is OK though, for now. I am about to get less life drawing in as plein air season is upon us and I am about to go full steam ahead. This blog should be humming after the past few weeks of quiet so batten down the hatches a paint storm is a-coming.

* Yes, I believe the models used in said narrow standard definition of beauty are in fact, as beautiful as you and I, but what I find insulting is that the images are digitally manipulated beyond what the human form actually is and are often used, not to portray beauty, but to sell a product through the prostitution of the human form. Don't get me started on the pressure to surgically enhance ones body to fit that standard! Strong words I know, and fine lines and slippery slopes are included.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Shedding Old Skin

© 2013 R.L. Delight, Woven Shibori, hand dyed
Once upon a time I was a weaver...well actually, I still am but haven't woven in a while. This was one of the last pieces I created before we began our wandering. It is a technique called woven shibori and I really enjoyed weaving it. It is woven with a fine Merino wool and there-in lies part of my dilemma. I decided to live a vegan lifestyle shortly after finishing this piece (over 5 years ago). It is a personal choice and I am not going to go into all the details here on this blog but I will eventually share it on my Coastal Vegan blog.
My spring cleaning has unearthed bits and pieces from my past that I need to let go, move on, and find new homes for. To that end, I am setting up an Etsy store. Now, I consider myself fairly fast on the uptake when it comes to using computers and the internet. The Etsy store set-up has been rather cumbersome for me. Perhaps it is because I am impatient to get the job done and move on or perhaps it is because I have been cooped up in the studio since the weather has been, and continues to be unsettled and stormy. Early Spring is a tough season on the Northern Oregon Coast. March seems to be the wettest and coldest and September seems to be the warmest time of the year. The store isn't open yet but soon will be I will let everyone know.
I have been working on a large composition and it is going slowly. I am not ready to show it on the blog yet and I have been reluctant to spend time finding informational topics to post about. Nothing wrong with such topics but I don't want to have to spend too much time looking for them.
So this post is to say, I am still here, I am still working and will eventually crawl out from under all the cold and rain and show what I have been up to. In the meantime, the spring cleaning continues.
I am realizing that I have reached a point where I need to shed old skin. After all, this is the Year of the Snake. Hopefully my new skin will be creative, colorful, and healthy!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spring Cleaning Gone Wild

©R.L. Delight, Wintery Perch
I took this photo a couple of weeks ago. It sure looks like winter. I don't think that structure is still standing. The tides take them down pretty fast and the tides were pretty fierce that day.
I am just itching to get out and paint. I feel like I have been cooped up too long. 
Sometimes one has to stop and take care of a few important things though and that is what I have had to attend to this past week. 
We innocently started a couple of spring cleaning projects this weekend and they got out of hand. I am finally just getting all the pieces put together after cleaning out the pantry. OK, that might not seem like a huge project or priority so I will explain as it is a good example of what has been detaining me.
For my health I gave up gluten of all kinds over a year ago. It hasn't been easy as I love all things bread. Our pantry hasn't been cleaned out in two years and was very disorderly and contained items I no longer eat. It was getting really hard to cook efficiently so I cleaned it out and reorganized it. My mate made a few improvements and we now have a well organized pantry. For a while!
One of the many lessons I learned about the 30 in 30 challenge was that it is very difficult to paint all day when things are falling apart around you and being organized is essential to being a happy painter. Well, I guess I can really only speak for myself, so it is essential to this painter. 
The 30 in 30 challenge brought out all those "items" stuck in the dark closet like the disorganized pantry which led to disorganized meals, and the sudden realization that my wardrobe is inadequate for my needs.
I need to note here that for the past 4 years our life has been in flux and a bit of upheaval so those things sort of slipped by. 
I am also spring cleaning my body. I have had a few very minor health issues, nothing worth mentioning but they have made me stop to regroup and get things taken care of and in place before continuing. Meditation and exercise have somehow fallen to the wayside and I need them both to bring everything to the table to paint.
Thankfully, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It won't all be smooth sailing but I know what needs to be done as I refocus this part of my journey. I am planning to be back to painting regularly by the end of the week with a clean, organized, and re-stocked pantry, healthful, easily prepared meals planned out, and the journey back to excellent health begun. The wardrobe needs are being attended to (see my new blog The Artful Stitch) and the niggling health issues too.
Now, I must get off the computer and to bed for enough sleep. Alas, another requirement that is challenging for me. I am so fascinated with this beautiful world we live in. I need to live several human lifetimes to explore it properly!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Study Day

Neahkahnie Beach
I have to admit that of all the factors that can determine whether or not I paint on the beach, the tides rule all. We are at that awkward stage in the tides when high tide comes too early and then too late for good wave painting conditions. There are places on the coast when I need a nice low tide to get access to paint but here at home, I mainly need a high tide. So, it is with great pleasure today I grabbed a sketchbook and my binoculars and hiked up the beach to just sit and study. I did not do any sketching but just watched and thought and squinted and evaluated. We shall see what happens in the next painting.
I also have to announce that I had the crazy idea to blog about clothing and food in addition to this blog. Actually, I have had the food blog for a while. My blog, Coastal Vegan, has had a long incubation period. I finally found a direction I want to go with it so will be adding to it soon.
I have a brand new blog too called  The Artful Stitch. I desperately need some clothes to wear so am beginning the long process of creating a proper wardrobe. To keep me honest, and motivated, I am going public with it. I will also be sharing skills from my secret past on that blog. Check it out when you have a moment. That is all for today. I will be either in the studio or out on the beach tomorrow...depending on the tides!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Sticking Point

©2013 R.L. Delight, Sticking Point

I keep hoping these sticking points will start coming fewer and further between. Not yet I guess! I am trying to push my wave study skills to the next level again. That means I mess up a lot. I do plan to publish the past two days of wave studies sometime. They will be in a special post I have in mind, about pushing to the next level of course!
I notice that I start pushing and trying to reach that next level when my attention starts to wander from my studies. I wouldn't call it boredom, but perhaps a restlessness. I can now paint a wave study in one hour in what used to take me three. I am thrilled with that but I want to get better too, not just faster.
It is important to give myself permission to try different approaches and to mess up without worrying about posting a pretty painting. That is the reason for the lack of a post yesterday and for this post today. I hope to have that breakthrough soon. It feels like I am very close.
I have a couple of other things simmering away as well. I need to clear a bit more of the weaving stuff out. I want to focus my weaving since I have very little time to devote to it. I am creating an Etsy page to clear out some beautiful yarns that I will not be using, at a good price, and to include a bit of fancy spinning for sale too. I am really not expecting a whole lot from that endeavor other than as a fiber fix outlet. My dyepots and spinning wheel have been calling to me again. I will be posting more about that on my ReneeWeaves! blog in the next couple of days which is currently in mothballs.
Phew! I feel a lot better now that I have posted what is going on. Now I can roll up my sleeves and make a grand mess. More soon,

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Wave Study #40 and a Full Bulletin Board

Another pearly gray day today but with the addition of a stiff North wind blowing rain sideways on the beach. Not good painting conditions at all but I did spend time just studying the waves. That is always a joy. 
 Here is Wave Study #40, done yesterday:
©2013 R.L. Delight, Wave Study #40, 6"x8", oil on canvas
If you look at Wave Study #39 posted yesterday you will see some similarities and slightly different skies. The sky changes by the minute. Since water reflects the sky, I start a seascape painting with the sky. That also gives me a reference to judge the proper values of the water too.
Wave Study #40 is the final study that will fit on my bulletin board. Here it is, all filled up:
©2013 R.L. Delight, Wave Study Bulletin Board.
The first one is on the top left and the fortieth one on the bottom right. There is a painting out of order and that is the one on the bottom left. It was painted plein air on a panel instead of the canvas of the others. The first two were also painted on panels that had been toned with burnt sienna. The first fifteen canvases were on the hemp fabric that I gessoed which were quite rough. The rest are on the pre-primed canvas sheets I got from Utrecht in pads.

I really enjoy looking at the paintings in my studio this way. Sometimes it can get discouraging learning to paint the sea from life but when I stop and look, I am satisfied that I am making progress. 

I will need to take these down to start the next batch. I need to find a good way to store these little studies so that I can easily access them for reference.

I am so enjoying painting these studies that I am considering turning them into a painted journal of a year on the coast, which would mean I would need to continue well beyond 100 studies even with not painting a painting a day.

I will have to think about it. This weekend (Sunday, Monday) is time for friends and community. I will have a few new things to share on my next post on Tuesday.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Wave Study #39

Ok, up to ten or more spam hits a day. Obviously an automated system. I am afraid I will have to reinstate the word verification. It takes up too much inbox space and annoys the heck out of me having to deal with it every time I go online. Well, it was worth trying.
So, today started out with mizzle and a bit of wind blowing it around. I call this weather facial weather. It isn't super cold and the wet blows on your face and everything else and feels like a cool mist facial. Definitely don't have to worry about drying out this time of year!
The wet stopped this afternoon and even though it was still pearly gray it dried up and the wind died down a bit. Time to hit the beach. I actually did two-one hour studies. I will share number 40 tomorrow. Here is Wave Study 39:
©2013 R.L. Delight, Wave Study #39, 6"x8" oil on canvas.
A gray misty afternoon. It is interesting painting in these conditions. There is actually a lot of subtle color. A camera would never be able to capture it. 
On a related note since it looks like I used a lot of white in this painting, I actually didn't use much more than usual. I never use white straight out of the tube. I mix color into all of the white I put on the canvas.
As you can also see, the cross waves were active again. This time they would slam into oncoming waves in the shallows which caused these fairly regular looking humps that sent spray over the back of them when they crashed into the other waves.
I had fun this afternoon. I tried a few new to me techniques to sort of mix things up. I was surprised by the results. A very enjoyable painting session on the beach.

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