Sunday, June 14, 2015

Behind the Sphinx

"Behind the Sphinx", 8"x10", oil on canvas panel, plein air

It has been a very busy painting week! The weather has been spectacular. The warm sunshine also brings the winds, which are challenging, but I managed to find shelter from the worst of the winds. There is a reason why I call this blog "Gritty Paint"! The plein air paintings of the sea and beach pretty much all contain sand from the Oregon coast and "Behind the Sphinx" has its share.

The painting above was done on Wednesday of this week at Arcadia State Park. I have painted this rock formation before from a different angle. Here is my painting set up, which sheltered me from the winds, until they shifted.

Painting at Arcadia State Park

Tuesday mornings are community garden days. I love working in this beautiful community garden. It once was a dairy farm but now is part of a large parcel of land that a few generous and forward thinking people purchased and then put it into a land trust. The community garden is worked communally instead of in private individual plots. I am learning so much! On days when the weather cooperates, I bring my painting gear. I have to admit, I haven't been able to paint there as often as I thought I would. This week I decided to paint the beautiful double poppies in the orchard area. It is good for me to change things up once in a while.

"Peace Prayers", 8"x6", oil on canvas panel, plein air

I haven't had a chance to get  a good picture of this in better light. I will get one when I can.

Monday I was at my favorite painting spot, Short Sands beach in Oswald West State Park. I did another study at the north end of the beach. There was a marine layer when I started, making the light beautifully opalescent. Here is the work in progress:

Short Sands Fall, WIP, 10"x8" oil on canvas panel, plein air

This is another painting I need to get a better picture of. I might be just leaving this painting as is in spite of it not being completely finished. It makes a great study and reference painting. I plan to return to Shorty this coming week. 

Thursday I needed to regroup and clean and organize my gear so I worked in the studio on my gear and drawing skills. That will be in a future post.

Friday was a very challenging day. I stepped far outside my comfort zone and painted at the seasonal opening of our local Farmer's Market. it is a somewhat small one but growing larger and every nook and cranny of the small area is filled. I found a corner to squeeze myself into and my set up in and painted, or at least tried to!

Usually, the first hour or two is fairly crowded but then the crowds thin out a bit toward the end. Not this time! I only caught 30 second glimpses of my subject, one of the farmer's booth, before the crowds blocked the view for 15 or more minutes at a time. It took me an hour to get an incomplete Notan sketch for reference! The market goes for 3 hours from 5pm to 8pm. I was finally able to see the whole booth five minutes before closing time, when they were packing up!
Here is what I mostly saw:

The booth I was trying to paint is behind the booth with the blue awning. I was able to get a brief Notan sketch and some color and composition notes on the painting.

This was the first time I have painted in such a venue. It is also a departure from my usual seascapes and landscapes. Quite a challenge! I will be returning next week to a different spot. So far, I have decided to make a few changes in my approach. Because I would like to get a completed painting of my spot from this week, I plan to go back a bit before the market opens with my sketchbook and get in some of the important details that I wasn't able to see due to the crowds. I will also make more efficient use of my time by keeping the sketchbook near by to sketch people, once I have my composition down, while I am waiting for the crowd to thin enough to paint.

We shall see how it goes next Friday. This is a pretty steep learning curve for me and a bit nerve-wracking as a lot of friendly people stop by to see what I am doing. I am hoping I will have some good progress to show by the last market of the season in late September.

That was my week! It feels great to get out and paint. I will be out again next week and will be working on drawing skills in the studio. I am trying hard to get a daily drawing practice going. I also want to get back to painting wave studies. So much to do!

Finally, I will be starting to put paintings up for sale. I need to buy art supplies as I am getting low.

I will try to post more during the week so these posts won't be so long.


Friday, June 5, 2015

Short Sands Fall Study

© 2015 R.L. Delight, Short Sands Fall Study, 10"x8", oil on canvas

Every now and then I take a stab at painting the falls at the north end of Short Sands. Most of the time there is tiny improvement and I get a little closer to what I want to convey. The cliffs in this area are actually formed from ancient seabed. The "rock" is soft and crumbly and has many layers. It has been carved by sea, wind, and rain. It is quite beautiful and has been very challenging for me to depict to my satisfaction. I learn something more every time I paint it.

I painted in the late afternoon when the tide was just coming to its highest point. What I have the hardest time with, along with a few other things,  is depicting the scale of the falls. I am actually a bit of a distance away since it was high tide. During the lower tides, it is possible to get to the foot of the falls. They are far, far larger than what they look like here. The shadows in this area change quite rapidly and dramatically too, no matter what time of the year. I will keep trying. With every study I see more and more. Here are a few pictures of work in progress and the area.

As can be seen in the picture with my easel, the area I was painting was in shadow within a fairly short time-span. I have been doing my Notan sketches before starting to paint and am finding them immensely helpful, specially when the light and shadows change so fast. The last picture is looking south as I head back to the car which is about 1/2 a mile away through a beautiful old growth forest trail. I plan to paint this view too but will need to wait for the right tide. The waves were much larger than they looked and quite powerful.

Today I got my new two-year park pass and worked on my gear and in the studio. We will be having a warm weekend here on the coast.

Enjoy the weekend!

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