Saturday, April 19, 2014

Rogue Wave!

© 2014 R.L. Delight, Painting at Short Sands
I am very careful choosing a spot when setting up to paint next to the ocean. I never paint with my back to the sea and I am pretty good, that is experienced, at judging the tide line and allowing for sneaker waves. I always check the tide tables, in fact, one of the saving graces of a smart phone is that I have tide charts and surf reports at my fingertips on the spot.
All that said, sometimes the unpredictable happens, even when allowed for! The tide was way out when I arrived at Short Sands Beach yesterday morning. The day was beautiful, and there were only three other people on the vast beach, no surfers in sight. I decided to take the opportunity to paint the waterfall from a closer vantage point. A slightly divergent note here, the beach is never the same from day to day. The sand shifts and new rocks are exposed. I hardly recognized the area on this morning. Here is what it looked like when I set up:
 © 2014 R.L. Delight, Painting at Short Sands
I circled my easel in red to make it easier to see. Scale is always challenging to show in these pictures. The cliffs and rocks are huge. The waterfall is also quite large. I have to stay back a ways to be able to take the whole thing in at one glance. I was set up on the ocean side of the long rock in front of the easel. I usually find a nearby place up high to put my gear but there wasn't one close enough. The rocks were covered with sea life so I didn't want to put my gear on them and squish them. I rested my pack, easel umbrella, shoes, and panel carrier on the sand next to the rock. I carry my good Bogs boots in on the hike in and change into them once I am on the beach. There are creeks to cross on the hike up the beach.
I figured I had about two hours to paint before I had to move due to the incoming tide. I actually figured right but was not able to take into account the erratic waves on this day. I have been watching when seemingly regular small waves suddenly build and become large, violent, and erratic. It can happen from one moment to the next. Incoming storms can affect the waves a couple of days before making landfall.
So there I was, an hour into painting my study. There were two families with small children exploring the waterfall and caves around me when suddenly I sensed a sneaker wave approaching. I was about to grab my gear when I saw a little boy who was closer to the breakers get swept off his feet and pushed against the rocks. I started to run to him but his father also saw him and leaped to his rescue. I just had time to turn back to grab my pack and easel umbrella and toss them up on the rock. My shoes started to float. I grabbed one but the other went around one side of the rock, while my wet panel carrier floated around the other side. The carrier is made of corrugated plastic and I hadn't painted on the panels stored in it yet so no damage was done other than being damp and a bit sandy.
People around me were squealing and shrieking but no one was hurt and my easel held in the 8" or so deep water. I didn't even get wet but my shoes were soaked. Here is part of what makes it tricky to predict:
© 2014 R.L. Delight, Painting at Short Sands
The rock on the upper left of the picture is where I was painting a few moments before I took this picture. This area of the beach is particularly tricky for surfers due to the rocks and the way the waves bounce off the cliffs and funnels onto the beach. The channels increase the speed and force of the water.
Needless to say, I broke off my painting, grabbed my gear, and moved up to higher ground to dry off and pack up. Unfortunately I had to go. I wished I had packed a lunch and rearranged my afternoon plans as it would have been the perfect day to stay all day and paint!
Here is the study, an hour into it. I was just about to put in the foreground rocks then start adjusting the values of the surrounding rock and greenery.
© 2014 R.L. Delight, Short Sands waterfall study, one hour, 6"x8", oil on canvas.
I will be painting several more studies of this area of the beach. As I have said before, I could spend a lifetime painting here. I haven't even scratched the surface of areas to paint on this one beach. I would need several posts to show in pictures the whole beach too.
On a final note, April is my birthday month and I bought myself a present which arrived yesterday. More adventures in painting to come!
Alla Prima II by Richard Schmid. Can't wait to get my teeth into this one!
Hope everyone stays safe and warm!



Unknown said...

That was so exciting in a heart thumping/breath catching way!

I would like to purchase that painting.

Please contact me about a price.

A huge fan who is grateful only your shoes got soaked!

Theresa said...

Well, And there is why they call them sneaker waves! SO glad everyone and thing made it through the stealthy surprise. I guess the collective sea just wanted a peek at the artists canvas, which is coming along swimmingly! :)

Dana said...

Thanks for the gripping tale! Your study is wonderful...what an inspiring environment for an artist. I too am glad that the sneaker wave did little real damage.

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