I headed back down to Caspersen Beach in Venice, FL last Wednesday morning to try my hand at those wonderful warm-toned rocks along the cool blue/green sea again. Moving water is definitely a formidable challenge, involving almost as much "poised brush" observation as as it does "brush to canvas" action!
I met up with a couple other local plein air painters in Sarasota this morning to paint at Jungle Gardens. Someone had just fed the flamingos their breakfast so rather than bathing in the water they were all congregated on the walkway. I chose to paint a shady area of the pond and just kept my fingers crossed that some would wander my way... and as luck would have it, eventually 3 of them waded into the water for about 10 minutes, which was just long enough for me to capture them on my canvas!
A better close-up photo of the finished piece is yet to come...
(On a side not, this was my first painting experience that I had to contend with flamingos nipping at my butt while I worked!)
This past week I had the opportunity to paint at the Save Our Seabirds bird sanctuary in Sarasota. After scoping all the birds out I settled on this great blue heron. Certain that it would never stand still long enough for me to paint it I decided to do fill my canvas with quick "gesture drawing" painting studies as it paced around in his netted cage. However, not long after I began painting, it hopped up on this log and proceeded to model for me, posing perfectly still, for a couple hours! Every now and then it'd hop down to take a little stretch break, then go right back up in position.
I met up with fellow Light Chasers recently at Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota on one of the first cool fall days here in Florida... alright, so it was down right cold! Maybe not exactly sun bathing kind of weather, but the cool, overcast sky made it just fine for painting!
Yes, this painter is a bit smitten with the boats at nearby Cortez Fishing Village, this one in particular, with it's lovely reflections. Part of the attraction, I have to admit, is a wonderful shaded public dock on which to set up my easel out of the sun. While it normally keeps me cool, this morning it kept me dry from the pouring rain! And while I may have been painting a "lone Rebel" I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was not alone! I was, in fact, in very good company as the incredibly talented Katie Dobson Cundiff arrived with her easel and small panels just as I was setting up mine. I'd seen her last February when she did a paining demo for the Light Chasers group over by the Ringling Museum. What a treat to paint along side her for a morning!
When I came out on the beach this morning with my easel and began scoping out what I wanted to paint I was initially drawn to the elongated indigo shadows cast by the sun rise. After walking around a bit, however, I noticed the reflections in the tide pools and knew immediately that I wanted to actually make those slashes of color the focus! I particularly liked how, from this perspective, they naturally lead your eye into the distance. As the tide began to rise and the sun moved higher in the sky, of course, they all evaporated away... but not before I managed to captured them first!
This morning I took Shell Point Rd. in Ruskin all the way down to the end where the Little Manatee River spills out into the Tampa Bay. I spotted a boatyard, the Shell Point Marina, and decided to take a look around. This sweet little boat, with "Sand Dollar" painted on the side, caught my eye. Yet, when I got all set up to paint I realized the long cast shadows in the early morning light were pretty interesting too. Of course, they tend to change rather quickly, so I blocked them in first, made some mental notes, and had to rely on memory towards the end.
I painted at Caspersen Beach in Venice, FL this morning, meeting up with several other members of the Light Chasers Plein Air Painters of the Suncoast group after the summer hiatus. These rocks struck my eye for the all the rich, warm golden tones in contrast against the cool greens, blues and purples of the gently lapping waves.
I've painted this view before, it's a pond not far from our house. This time I stood lower down by the water's edge, amongst the reeds. I love the pond's vibrant shade of blue in the early morning light at this time of year.
Golf and Sea Pond #2
5"x7" oil on panel
By noon time the breeze had picked up, rippling the surface of the water and a bunch of clouds had rolled in. I'm pleased with the sense of movement in this one.
This morning I was painting down by Caspersen Beach (in Venice, FL) again after 4 straight days of grey skies and steady rain. Such inclement weather gave me a good excuse to get 30-some-odd hardboard panels primed and toned and my studio cleaned up and organized... but it sure was so good to see the sun again today! I did see a big rain storm off in the distance as I was just getting set up. Actually, it was quite a sight to look out across the water and literally see sheets of rain pouring down, sweeping onto the land and streaking the sky with a watercolor-like haze. The wind quickly blew the storm through and continued pushing clouds in front of the sun all morning long, changing the light minute by minute, as I worked at capturing the crashing waves and bowing seagrasses on my little canvas.
I drive the road depicted off in the distance all the time, it's Hwy 41 in Ruskin, just a few miles from our house. By the bridge over the river is a mobile home park, shaded by big oak trees. In the almost 10 years that I've lived here I'd never driven down this little side street before, until yesterday. My curiosity was rewarded by some stunning views of the river and a beautiful blushing sunrise. Not a bad way to start the day! I think I'll be coming back here regularly...
This is the second of 2 small studies I did one morning last week. As the sun rose higher, so did the intensity of the blue in the sky. And ohhh those clouds! I kinda got a thing for clouds and water lately...
Last week I spent several days preparing for an upcoming demo I'm doing on plein air painting, going over notes I'd made in my sketchbooks and brushing up on all the wonderful advice in Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting (Incidentally, I highly recommend that book to anyone interested in the principles and mechanics of painting landscapes.) After 2 days of sitting at my computer, however, by the 3rd day I was absolutely itching to get back outside and paint! So early in the morning I headed over to a lovely spot by a bridge in nearby Ruskin that spans the Little Manatee River and I worked on putting my own knowledge and advice into practice! I did 2 small post card size studies that morning, the first at about 8 am and the second around 10 am. Comparing the two together it's easy to see just how quickly light and conditions can change!
There's a spring-fed pond on the property by our family's cabin that's absolutely great for fishing and swimming. On one side the pond spills over into a little creek that, down the hill a ways, turns into quite a rushing flow of water. Often times this area is all dammed up by the busy beavers that like to build their structures here. On this day, however, it was flowing freely. It was an overcast morning, (rather chilly for mid-summer in TN,) peaceful and quite, save for the trickling of the water, the croaking bullfrogs and the quail all around whistling their "bob white!" chirps to each other. This is truly one of the greatest gifts of plein air painting- to be out in nature, present, still and focused, taking in all the sounds, smells and sensations, while attempting to capture some fleeting beauty in a reflection, a light, or a shadow.
So... I lasted all of 3 days without my tube of white gouache and my oil paints before I realized I was just going to have to make the 3 hour round trip into Knoxville to go get what I needed at the art supply store as the urge to paint was just getting to me! The next day I had my brother in law drop me off at the base of the hill by our cabin, just outside of Dayton, TN, so I could paint this old red barn while he and my son made a food supply run. They were gone for just over an hour, during which time I stood by the side of the road at my easel, shooed away flies, swatted at sweat bees, got odd & curious looks from local farmers going by in their pickup trucks... and painted most contentedly!
I'm getting to know this view of our favorite beach on Anna Maria Island pretty well lately, as we spend a lot of time there. One thing I love is the way it's always changing, depending on the time of day, the weather and the season. Always the same, yet always different.
In late July I went up to our family's cabin in the hills of East Tennessee as we do each summer. Last year a friend of mine drove up and brought all my oil paints and supplies with her, however, this year I flew and was not able to bring any of it on the plane in my carry on luggage, other than my gouache tubes and some paper. It wasn't till I got there that I realized I'd left my tube of white at home in my studio. Now, gouache is very much like watercolor, it can be used transparently or opaquely. I like it because you can tint colors lighter or go back at the end and add white, which you cannot do with watercolors. With watercolors one must plan out ahead of time what is to be kept lightest in value and it can be a very unforgiving medium. Anyway, I had just the tiniest little smear of white dried up on my palette and chose to use it for the tera cotta pot, for the rest I had to use the white of the paper- as one traditionally does with watercolors. Necessity being the mother of invention, I actually really like the way this turned out with the contrast of transparent and opaque!
This was one of the last paintings I did in Tennessee this summer, painted at the bottom of the Laurel-Snow hiking trail in Dayton. My husband and I had gone running on the trail a few days earlier and the moment I saw the mountain stream that runs all alongside the trail I knew I wanted to paint it! So we returned a couple days later and while he took our kids on a 5 mile roundtrip hike to the falls and back that's just what I did- set up my easel on some rocks and set out to paint the reflections, ripples, shadows, colors, textures and transparent depths of this swimming hole.
Once done, I took a picture of it still on the easel where it seemed to blend seamlessly into the scene itself (see photo below) and it was recently featured in Plein Air Magazine's online newsletter, Outdoor Painter.com!
Well, summer has come to an end- at least in terms school having started back up for my children- which means it's high time I get back to posting some of the paintings I did over the past couple months on my blog here. This one I did in mid-July over the course of 2 mornings. My favorite part about it is the sky, as I feel I was able to (somewhat) successfully capture the luminosity of the billowing clouds. Unfortunately, when I returned to my spot (on the dock behind the Cortez fish processing plant) the sky was much more overcast, which meant the reflections in the water were quite different than the day before, as were the shadows. Oh well, lesson learned, probably better to wait until conditions are the same again, guess that's just what happens sometimes when you "roll the dice" with a plein air painting!
Today found me back at the Cortez Fishing Village again... there's just so much good painting subject matter here! Plus, its always fun to chat with the motley crew of assorted fishermen who inevitably wander over to see what I'm up to. (Note* This painting gets it's provocative title from the name painted on the side of the aqua blue fishing boat.)
Painted this one by The Sandbar Restaurant on Anna Maria Island this morning. The sky kept threatening rain and sprinkling intermittently on my canvas, but I was not deterred! And neither was the wedding party setting up for the evening's ceremony just to my left ;)
More boats (and a few pelicans) from Anna Maria Island's historic Cortez Fishing Village... I love this place! While I was painting it an old fisherman peddled his bicycle up to the dock where I was standing and informed me that "The Rebel" first sailed into Cortez in 1975 and at the time it was the biggest boat that the little harbor had ever had in it's waters!
On the last day of Paint the Town 2013 the artists gathered along Pine Ave. on Anna Maria Island. The weather was gorgeous and the sea was calling me, so I walked on down to the beach right next to one of my favorite restaurants on the island called The SandBar. A giant oak tree was casting wonderful lavender shadows on the sand by the dunes and the simplicity of the scene appealed to me, as did the shade!
The next night at the Paint the Town opening reception I was thrilled to receive one of 4 Honorable Mention Awards for this one!
There's no shortage of great painting inspiration around Cortez Fishing Village over by the StarFish Seafood Company... loved the challenge of capturing the boats' reflections in the water with this one! Equally loved seeing all the other Paint the Town artists' interpretations of scenes from this distinctly "old Florida" landmark. Incidentally, the show is up through May 3rd at ArtCenter Manatee in Bradenton if you're in the area...
I did this painting last Monday morning along Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island, looking north to the point about 3 miles away. With it, I was interested in conveying a sense of the distance, as well as capturing the nuances of shadows and highlights in the expanse of sand before me, already patterned with many early morning footprints.
I did this painting at the Bradenton Farmers Market last Saturday morning for the 2 hour "Quick Draw" competition, which was the kick off to Paint the Town 2013. This was a week long event in which selected professional artists painted on location "en plein air" all around the Bradenton area, culminating in a juried show at the ArtCenter Manatee. I chose this scene for the striking striped table cloths adorning the vendor's tables, upon which were set great big pastel buckets of all sorts of greens.
I liked the movement of the lines and angles as they naturally lead the viewer's eye back into the distance. (Admittedly, I also liked that directly upwind from me was a barbecue vendor who was filling the air with the most deliciously intoxicating aromas you could imagine!)
I've been slacking on my blog lately, but I assure you I have a good excuse...
I've been too busy painting!
A couple of weeks ago I participated in my first "Paint Out" in Sarasota, along with about 70 other plein air painters. It was a 3 day event and at the end we all submitted our best piece for a juried show. I turned in a painting that I did of my grandmother's backyard... and was honored to have won one of 7 honorable mentions! It's currently on display at Art Center Sarasota, but when it comes down at the end of the month I'll post it here.
Last weekend I participated in the Hyde Park Chalk Walk plein air painting competition and took 1st place in the Quick Draw and one of two Awards of Merit in the plein air event! Again, I'll post pictures of them soon
(one of which has already sold!)
So, as for today's painting, my subject was the beautiful Myakka River State Park. I will definitely be painting there again- so peaceful and gorgeous scenery everywhere you look!
The Ca d'Zan Mansion, once home to John and Mable Ringling, is located in a beautiful setting on the water in Sarasota. As stunning as the mansion itself is, with the gulf of Mexico in it's backyard, it was the sunlight playing on this bright yellow-green tree and an urn by the former reflecting pool in the front that ended up catching my eye last week when I was there. Tourists came and went all morning long as I painted, many of them stopping to watch as I worked, but the sweetest comment I received was from a little English boy of about 4 years old who walked up behind me and exclaimed "Mummy! Daddy! Come see the most amazing thing! Look, she's painting the big trophy in the garden!"
I painted on Siesta Key Beach this morning. It was a cool, breezy, overcast day, but as I've said before, the beach is quite lovely no matter what the weather! Now, I don't typically paint figures, but as I was working on this seascape a couple came and set down their blanket in the sand in front of me. He lay on his side reading a book and she sat staring out onto the ocean for about an hour- both staying perfectly still- so I decide to add them in, (they were such obliging models after all!) The photo I took of this painting is not the best quality, as it was taken with the camera on my phone, but I wasn't able to shoot it properly because the couple purchased the painting on sight just as I applied the final brush strokes...SOLD!
This week found me again painting at the beach on a rather cold and blustery day. This beach, in particular, is known for the copious amounts of fossilized sharks teeth that wash up regularly on it's shore. Even with the frigid air and gusty winds there were still plenty of shark tooth hunters scouring about. As for me, a few hours spent painting by the crashing ocean waves was treasure enough!
While scoping out the area at Sarasota's beautiful Bayfront Park one morning a couple weeks ago, this lone little row boat on the shore caught my eye. It was a blustery, cold, grey day and the sight of this abandoned boat surrounded by washed up seaweed just seemed to suit my mood. Stoically, I set up my easel knowing time was limited, as on the dark horizon a storm was definitely blowing in. On the one hand, this forced me to work quickly, focusing on getting my colors, values and brushstrokes right the first time... on the other hand, not long after I'd started, when the raindrops started coming down and my easel was blown over by a gust of wind, finishing it in the studio didn't seem like such a bad idea either!
This past week the weather here in Florida has been absolutely gorgeous- all the more so because it's January! On Thursday I set out to paint on the beach. When I started around 10:30 am there was only the one lone blue and white striped umbrella. A few hours later, however, the shore was dotted with dozens of umbrellas and- though I left them all out of the painting- I was completely surrounded by hoards of "snowbirds" (a.k.a. retired northerners) baking in the sun. Apparently I wasn't the only one who thought it was a good "beach day!"