Let the paint-outs begin! My first paint-out of the season, and my first ever, was with PAWA (Plein Air Washington Artists) at the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge in Nisqually, WA. The refuge is a 3 and 1/2 hour drive from my house, one way. I left my house at 6 am. and returned at 10 pm. It was a long day but totally worth it. I painted at a beautiful spot and got to meet a few people.
I am used to wetlands but this time of year the refuge is full of migratory birds, local birds, and birdwatchers from around the world. Yesterday there were plein air painters out there too. When I arrived, I poked around a tiny bit looking for people with painting gear. I am new to the group so I didn't know anyone. I did see a few folks with what looked liked painting gear heading out here and there. I grabbed mine and found a spot, out of thousands, to paint. Looking toward Puget Sound the Olympic Mountains were showing in all their glowing glory. I decided to try for a grand vista with the mountains in the background. I was glad I took a few minutes to prepare a preliminary sketch as the clouds were moving in. I also painted the mountains and sky in right away since I knew it would be changing fast. Here is a view of my easel and a bit of a view of my surroundings:
I was out of step with most of the group so I missed the lunch gathering while finishing up the painting. Fortunately, I wasn't the only one so I got to eat lunch and chat with another artist. After eating, I headed back to another spot that I had noticed when walking to the car for lunch. I loved the colors of the spring growth on the distant trees. They were nicely framed by the dark, evergreen trees behind and the water-logged grasses in front. I had several Canada geese keeping me company.
You can see a pair of geese in the distant upper left hand corner. They actually spent most of the time a few feet from me.
Looking the other way are a pair of beautiful old barns. I was sorely tempted to paint them too. Perhaps another time.
Finally, a closeup of the final afternoon painting. Both paintings will need a bit of work in the studio before I would pronounce them finished. I will probably keep both for studies for now. This week the sun will be coming out again. At least, that is what the weather app reports. I am continuing to work on skills in the studio: drawing, brushwork, values, composition, still life, and painting faster.
In two weeks, I will be heading out to the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument with PAPO. I am looking forward to painting there and meeting more people!