Saturday, September 28, 2013


Storm tossed bottle washed ashore.

This is my 260th post on this blog. I had hoped to post my 60th wave study but we are currently experiencing some very strong fall storms here on the wild Northern Oregon Coast and painting on the beach will have to wait. I am four weeks post-surgery as of tomorrow with another two weeks of restrictions yet to go. I have had more time than I have wanted to think, reflect, and plan. With the loss of my beautiful dog Twill and a somewhat drastically changed body, life has taken a bit of a bend in the road.
For the past 25 years I have been outdoors at least once or twice a day (and often several times a day) every single day due to animals and pets. I thought when our beloved Twill crossed over, our last pet for now, I would have a complete day indoors more often. So far I haven't been indoors all day yet, I didn't even miss a day when I had surgery. I guess after 25 years being outdoors no matter what the weather has worn a deep groove in my neural pathways. I get terribly restless and irritable until I get outside. I usually burst out of doors with a huge sense of relief.
The first of this month of September would have marked the end of my four years of art school had things gone as planned. I would have been deciding where to go from there. So many bends in the road these past five plus years.The past few months I have drifted off my preferred track, for several reasons that I won't go into here. With the deep thinking time I have had recently I have been realigning my path and getting back on my art track. I have been unhappy not being able to paint and draw much.
My art school training was heavily based on drawing the figure and still life. All of which is excellent training no matter what genre and medium. With all the thinking I have been doing I have come to realize that I am happiest when I am able to paint outdoors, en plein air. It goes deep. I feel as if I have been made to paint outdoors. Of course, there will be plenty of studio paintings too and I still have a lot of work to do honing drawing and painting skills, studies that will be done in the studio.
I plan to spend the next 5 years painting on the Oregon Coast with travel stints elsewhere. In the next 5 years I would like to:
  • Take a train journey across Cananda with stops along the way to paint.
  • Take a kayak expedition/tour of the Queen Charlotte Islands with my painting gear.
  • Travel to England, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Sark to paint.
  • Take a seascape painting workshop with Don Demers.
  • Take a train journey to the East Coast of the US to paint.
Of course I could add a lot more! I have no idea at this time how I will accomplish this. All I know is I need to put my head down, work hard , and stay focused. I will be working on more paintings to sell as those are skills I need to build too.
Well, I could go on but this is the kernel of all the thoughts I have been thinking about these past weeks. At the moment, we are having a sort of breather between storms. I say sort of because although the strong winds have died down for now, the rain is still coming down in torrents. I can hear the roar of the ocean waves from my spot on the couch here at home. I love it. I love the sea and the wildness. I love the beauty. Here is a short video I made today around 5pm when the storm abated.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Storm Warning

I had planned to rest today after yesterday's first time back to painting after all the challenges I have been through lately. I was skimming my Facebook page this morning and I saw a storm warning posted by our local weather guru. Coming in tomorrow will be high winds and a lot of rain. In other words, another fall storm. Today was a lovely warm fall day coupled with that underlying uneasy feeling that the sun just doesn't quite feel right, as if it is slightly off.
It looks like the weather won't be very cooperative for painting on the beach for a few days so I decided to go out and paint again.
I am still shaking off the cobwebs on my painting skills so I decided to try something different. I usually paint near the foot, or perhaps I should say toe of Neahkahnie Mountain. I decided to paint the toe portion that runs out into the sea. The mountain continues up twice as high as the toe and shelters our little town from some of the storms that come our way. Here is my effort after 2 hours of painting.
©2013 R.L. Delight, Neahkahnie Fall, 6"x8", oil on canvas
The water along the shoreline is not finished. This time of the year the sun starts to dip lower on the horizon and the golden light of fall hits the cliffs. We are able to see just how rugged the cliffs of Neahkahnie are. The shadows were changing literally every minute. It was challenging because I would look, then paint while looking at my canvas, and then look again and find that things changed. I will have to paint it again and get more practice.
I wanted to paint a wave study too in the final hour so I broke off painting after two hours. There is still more to paint before I would call it a finished study. In addition to outdoor painting challenges, I grabbed a different tube of white paint that was not cooperative. The white paint was incredibly sticky and thick and fought me all the way. Ugh. I will be taking it out of my plein air paint kit.
Here is wave study #59 which I painted from 4-5 pm today. The difficulty was the sun glaring in my eyes as I looked out to see the waves. It was tricky to get the colors right. The shapes look different in that light too. To be honest, I am just not used to painting in the sunlight! Sunlight on the Oregon coast is completely different then sunlight elsewhere, such as on the California coast! Here is the wave study:
© 2013 R.L. Delight, Wave Study #59, 6"x8", oil on canvas
I am thinking of using this one to create a finished painting from. I like the way the waves were stacking on top of one another and going at different angles. The extreme lighting and glare lent added difficulty. My farthest swell is still looking a little too even. I was concentrating on getting the color and light effects on canvas. I will have to keep working on it.
Tomorrow after battening down the hatches, I will be working in the studio. I want to take one day a week to work on basic skills such as drawing, color matching, brush strokes, etc. If the storm delays a bit I might be able to squeeze another wave study in too.
Stay warm and dry everyone!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I Am Back!

Neahkahnie Mountain, at the Toe!
Fall is here and, right on schedule, our first fall storm on the Equinox. It has been not quite four weeks since my surgery and I am healing well. So well that I am chaffing at the restrictions. Fortunately I was told I could walk and so I have been. I walked up to the foot of Neahkahnie on the beach during the storm to admire the waves. They have returned in full force and looked magnificent! It was about a four mile round trip walk in pouring rain and thundering surf. The smell of Shore Pine and Cedar mixed with the smell of the sea which will always remind me of home.
Technically, I have to admit, I have about 2 more weeks of the "no heavy lifting" period. I have been pretty good at taking care and I am healing well and faster than the doctor anticipated. I credit it to healthy living and good wholesome organic vegan whole foods. Today, I just couldn't stand it. The storms have passed, the sun was out, and the waves were lovely. This morning I very carefully hefted my painting pack an inch or so off the bench. Hmmm, heavy. Perhaps if I unload some of the weight, lift it up to my higher platform where I can reload it and slip it on without using my abs. Bingo! That worked! I very carefully walked around my house with my attention on how my abdomen felt. I hardly felt a thing. While I was walking around the house, I stepped on the scale. I have never weighed my loaded pack before. It weighs 17 pounds.
The waves were calling. I had to go paint. I got everything ready to go and off I went. I drove to the beach and parked and then very carefully slipped on my pack from the car seat without having to lift. The pack weight sits on my hips and anchors from my shoulders as any good backpack does. I still had a little less than a quarter of a mile to hike on the beach to reach my usual spot. I walked slowly and carefully, half my normal pace, in spite of my impatience to get there.
I found a large log to repeat the supported offloading of my pack and happily set up my easel to paint. I am woefully out of practice and messed up on the swells in the painting by going too light too soon. I didn't really have any high expectations for this wave study. I just was happy to be out painting. Here is Wave Study #58. It is time to get these studies done!
© 2013 R.L. Delight, Wave Study #58, 6"x8", oil on canvas.
I will wait until the canvas is dry and then repaint the swells properly. The photos never do the subtle colors justice on these paintings. Other than the swells, I am fairly pleased. Still plenty of room for improvement. The waves were piling up with the shore breakers coming in at an angle to the beach as they hit hidden sand bars and rocks. The tide was coming in.
I am tired but satisfied at the moment. I will see how I feel physically tomorrow but I will be heading out now as often as possible.
It is good to be back!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Healing and Recovery

Home sweet home.
I debated about posting what I am about to post, but lately I have had a lot of time to think. I have concluded that the stories of the ups and downs of life also go into my art and need to be told. No worries, I will do my best to spare you all the gory details!
First of all, I am writing this from a place of healing and reflection. It is a good place to be even though at times I get restless. It is a necessary place to be. I do, however, need to find a path that leads to here that isn't quite so painful. Does it exist? I don't know. I suspect we all find it in our own way.
August was a strange month. It had joyful highs, and gut wrenching lows. The highs were joyful times spent with family and friends. The previous post is about one of those gut-wrenching lows. Life with Twill was so very sweet and came full circle. She was my constant companion and a true joy. I will always have that, but I miss her and grieve for her.
The other challenge in August has been my health. Last week I had surgery to remove a very large benign tumor in my abdomen. The surgeon also removed my right ovary and fallopian tube. All of this is a huge relief for me. Before the surgery I looked about 5 months pregnant and was very very uncomfortable. I lost 12 pounds overnight from the surgery!
Needless to say, I am on the way to healing but will not be able to go out to paint for a month or so. I will be able to work in the studio in short shifts and plan to start next week. I tire easily and, if I am not careful, I tend to overdo it a bit.
I do listen to my body. I have not taken pain meds other than what they gave me during the surgery so my body definitely tells me when to stop. It is a bit disconcerting that I need to stop often.
This has been a time to rest, re-evaluate, contemplate, and heal. When events around me start shouting this loud, I stop and listen. When I do this, the things that are most important to me come popping to the surface. Here is what I find important now:
  • Community: I have been touched and humbled by the wonderful people in our little community who have given me everything from loving thoughts, support, and offers of places to stay while in Portland during the surgery, not to mention flowers, hugs and kisses, and offers of food. They all have inspired me to return that love ten-fold and to count my blessings. This has been a good reminder on how important community is for everyone, specially now and in the future.
  • Art: the need to create is still a major path in my life and is becoming even more urgent now. I am renewing my dedication to making even more progress in my drawing and painting skills. I have pages of ideas in my sketchbook that need to come to life.
  • Music: This has been a rising star in my life bringing me much joy. I have the privilege of playing in a live performing band with my mate and dear friends. We are growing as a group and for my contribution, I need to step up and continue to improve my cello skills which have a long way to go.
  • Healing food and lifestyle: I have always eaten healthy food and lived a fairly healthy lifestyle but like everything else, it can use a bit of tweaking. I will talk about that in other posts and in my other blog soon.
So what does all of this have to do with creating art? Everything! It isn't separate as I am sure many of you know. I never know how many people read these posts but sometimes I post things of this nature to release them into the universe.
So to you who are reading, stop and ask yourself if there is an area in your life that needs attention. If you have been meaning to make a few changes, now is always a good time to do that. 
Believe me, I know how easy it is to put off making changes that need to be made. I believe I posted earlier this year that I need to get back to meditation, exercise, etc. Doing those things probably would not have changed anything I have just went through but it would have given me additional support to get through it. I am not wasting time feeling guilty or chastising myself, I am just going to do it.
So now, I am going to stop before I get too preachy or start nattering on! This post is long enough.
The next post will be about progress. The steps may be a bit wobbly, but they will be there.

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