Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wave Study #63-Return of the Gray

© 2013 R.L. Delight, Wave Study #63, 6"x8", oil on canvas
The gray is back! It is back in the form of coastal fog. Here is wave study #63. The lighting on the photo is weird which gave it that grainy textured look. Unfortunately with the time of day and lighting conditions this was the best photo out of three. There are a lot of subtle colors in the painting that just do not show up in the photo. I think I am going to have to work on that.
Painting on the beach in the fog is a cold proposition. Even though the wind was minimal and I had several layers on, I was pretty cold when I came off the beach. That was about a half an hour ago. I am posting right away as I am not only pressed for time, I have a backlog of posts to blog. Dinner is cooking and I am finishing a welcome mug of hot chocolate hemp milk.
I can't say I am completely happy about this wave study. I struggled with the color and values. I can see improvements but they are slow in coming. One of these days I hope I can get somewhere in the neighborhood of where I want to be. In the meantime, I will keep slogging away.
I need to eat and then come band rehearsal. I have some finished copper paintings to post soon and I am working on the Munsell color studies. In spite of the above gloomy tendency of  the post, I wouldn't want to be doing anything else!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Wave Study #62

© 2013 R.L. Delight, Wave Study #62, 6"x8", oil on canvas.
When I go to my usual spot at the foot of Neahkahnie Mountain to paint wave studies, I like to go a little before the high tide. The waves are usually at their largest and I can get closer to the action, depending on conditions. If high tide is before noon, I head out in the morning to paint. If it is in the afternoon I head out after lunch. Lately the high tide has been hitting in the afternoon. It is about to hit evening which means I will have to wait until it cycles back around to a reasonable hour in the morning. When that happens, my ideal plan is to head up the coast a few miles to paint in places like Hug Point and Short Sands Beach which are best accessed when the tides are lower.
One of the joys, and sometimes pains, of painting plein air seascapes is that conditions are always different from day to day, and even minute to minute. No squalls yesterday but sunshine and a small insistent breeze. I brought all my rain gear anyway. I learned my lesson!
I was able to remove the rain gear but admit I should have put my outer layer back on toward the end of the day as the breeze was making me cold. I didn't want to stop and do that so I shivered the last half and hour of painting. It is hard to stop when you are racing against sun and tides.
I am studying books and reading blogs to help me improve. Sometimes trying new approaches and making new observations means a step back and some, and sometime most, of the elements slip. Not only am I out of practice but I am trying new things. In spite of the many things I can see that need to be tweaked or fixed on this 2 hour study, I am fairly pleased with the results. I was trying hard to capture the afternoon autumn light on the waves and I feel I did manage to get a tiny bit of it. It wasn't a perfectly clear day and the sunlight was diffused as is often the case here on the coast.
After painting yesterday afternoon and hauling gear for a band rehearsal in the evening, I am a bit sore in my middle today. I am feeling quite well but my body does let me know when I need to back off a little. So today, I am going to go out and sketch a bit and then work on another project that is due this weekend. We shall see if I am fit to go out to paint tomorrow.
Oh, it feels so good to be back!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Shelter From the Storm-Take One

I went out to paint yesterday with a possible storm shelter to try. It was a good day for it as it was windy with frequent squalls. The waves were fantastic of course! My mate had purchase a lightweight backpacking tent a few years ago. It is basically a fancy tarp. I carefully read the instructions and pulled it out to look at before heading out to give it a try on the beach. I actually managed to set it up fairly quickly and crawl inside. Alas! as I sat there trying to look out I realized I would only be able to have a clear view if I was laying down. I quickly packed it back up and set up my painting gear.
Now, I know this might shock some of you considering how careful I am with everything from dressing properly to knowing the tides, and never turning my back to the ocean, but apparently I wasn't quite awake when I set out to paint. I was so confident that the tent would work that I didn't wear my rain gear...or even pack it. Of course, as soon as I set my painting gear up and literally had the brush in hand, a sudden squall came out of nowhere and I was soaked to the skin in about two seconds flat. Just as quickly the squall passed leaving me standing there dripping wet (I did have a hat and coat on but not a raincoat). Did I mention it was windy? Even though the sun came out a little bit, I knew I had to leave. Wet clothes plus cold wind is a recipe for hypothermia. I packed it in and spent the evening researching lightweight storm shelters. I am waiting for another one to try out with hopefully better results.
Today I set out again. I just love painting this time of year with the stormy seas! Here is a quick one hour or so sketch I painted, wearing proper rain gear. I tried a new-to-me approach which means about 5 steps backwards (more on that later) but here it is, Wave Study #61:
©2013 R.L. Delight, Wave Study #61, 6"x8", oil on canvas
It is still in the flat shape stage, no highlights and just the suggestion of wave shaping. The tide was just reaching its high point when I had to pack it in due to a rather nasty squall coming in fast. The cross waves were just beginning to form at this stage and they were quite large. There is just a suggestion of the cross waves in the painting. I am not going to do anything more to this study because I like the energy. There is actually a lot of information I can use in this one if I wanted to create a studio painting from it.
This is the first time I have painted sitting down. I didn't have much of a choice as the gusts were pretty powerful. I used rocks to help anchor my painting tripod and stayed low by sitting on a rock. The wind suddenly got stronger and I looked up to see this coming at me:
Fortunately I can pack my painting gear up in about 3 minutes. Huge drops were splattering around me as I scrambled. Well, tried to scramble. I had been so absorbed in painting and was sitting on a rock, when I got up my legs didn't want to work and I almost toppled over. It was more like lurching around packing up. It took the three photo shots above as I was hiking down the beach in the rain. I just got the back end of the squall as the winds were from the Northwest. The storm went south before hitting the shore.
It is probably just as well I packed up as I was pretty cold. I has spent a little time before starting to paint just observing, something I try to do whenever I go out.  I need to wear more layers. I haven't used my new foul-weather gear I purchased this summer yet. It is for pretty serious weather. When I got home I made a cup of hemp milk hot-chocolate in celebration of the Fall storms.
Fancy sipping chocolate from The Beehive in Nehalem.
One final note, as I was heading home I passed another plein air painter standing in front of her hotel room sliding glass door painting away. She had a nice set up and was sheltered from the worst of the weather. At first I thought, Hey, another painter! And then, the rather silly thought that she was somehow cheating went through my head and out again. I quickly realized that although she had a lovely view of sea and dramatic sky, she could not really see the waves very well from where she was. I want to paint waves. I also realized I really love being out in the thick of it all even if it is very challenging at times. She looked like she was having a good time and I hope she gets some great paintings during her stay here.
Stay tuned for more on my efforts on finding shelter from the storms while painting on the beach with the ocean roaring, wind screaming, and waves surging around my feet... OK, maybe I am getting a bit dramatic here. Chocolate does that to me!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Wave Study #60: Puny Waves

© 2013 R.L. Delight, Wave Study #60, 6"x8", oil on canvas
After the strong fall storm we had last weekend where the waves got up to about 25 feet, today's waves were very disappointing. They were about 2 ft high and very few. The water was beautiful though and the winds were light. The sunshine was, well, warmish. It seems like the storm brought not only wild weather but fall temperatures and fall light. High tide today was around noon. Not the best time to paint as the light flattens out. I arrived at my usual painting spot about 10 am and watched the waves for a bit while deciding how and what to paint. The clouds were a lovely shade of pale lavender at the horizon and there were many reflections in the water, just not very many waves.
I decided to focus on the layers of value (lights and darks), or tone, and on getting some of the reflection. I also tried to get a view with a slight angle and even drew an arrow in paint detailing the direction the waves were traveling. I wasn't exactly successful with the wave direction. In the process of working the painting they straightened out a bit too much.
There was also another challenge. To get the angled view, my easel had to  be positioned with the morning light falling full on the canvas. Just to clarify, I am on the west coast of the Pacific Ocean. I kept the challenges that the situation creates firmly in mind and checked my painting progress frequently by looking at the painting in shadow, off to the side, and squinting to make sure the values weren't too dark..
This was a two hour painting but I took my time and gave more thought than I usually do to my painting decisions. I also remembered to squint and stand back more often than I usually do.
Over all, I am pleased. There is plenty of room for improvement though. I got the values pretty close but they can still use a tiny bit of tweaking.
When I was sitting and observing the values  before I started painting I realized that I have been getting the values some of the reflections too light in general. It can be easy to do. There is also more of a range of values overall. I am starting to see some of these things while painting the sea en plein air now. It "only" took me 60 wave studies to see this much! I have forty more studies to go to reach 100. The studies will continue past 100 but I will start making more finished paintings after I complete the first 100.
It was a joy to get out to paint again. I feel stronger and healthier every day. I can almost walk at my normal pace with my pack on. I still go carefully. I don't want to get careless and have any set backs at this point.
This weekend is packed with performing music with the band and my monthly shopping trip up the coast. I will be back to painting and drawing on Monday. Have a great weekend everyone and stay safe.

-R.L. Delight

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