Plein Air painting at Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary, Barnstable

The conditions for plein air painting this morning were about as good as they get! The Barnstable Plein Air painters met at Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary at 8:30 am. There were so many options for gorgeous views! I chose a trail which led down to the beach where I looked across Cape Cod Bay to the dunes at Sandy Neck. Interestingly, I didn't paint that view. Instead, I looked to my left and to my right and did 4 different small quick studies of the beach and distant water views. The sand was sparkling and the grasses were brilliant. I was attempting to do the 360 in 60 challenge. The object is to place your easel in 1 location and paint 4 small studies in 15 minutes or less each. The artist has the opportunity to play with composition- high horizon or low? Zoom in or zoom out?  It's all there for the taking!  

 Here I am taking in the view, deciding what I'll paint. Thanks to Wendi Smith for taking this photo!

Here I am taking in the view, deciding what I'll paint. Thanks to Wendi Smith for taking this photo!

 Here is my 360 in 60

Here is my 360 in 60

 My last painting- this one a bit larger 7 x 10"

My last painting- this one a bit larger 7 x 10"

Plein Air Painting on Mayflower Beach, Dennis

We now have an official name- the Barnstable Plein Air Painters! We had our second painting adventure on Monday May 14 at Mayflower Beach in Dennis. I had never been to this location. It's nice to take advantage of the free parking before the official season sets in and beach stickers are required. The weather was a bit iffy but it never rained and the clouds and atmospheric effects were spectacular. I was able to do 3 small paintings over the course of the morning. I loved the challenge of capturing the ethereal effects of the clouds and mist. Later the sun came out and it was completely changed. What a difference a few hours makes! We had a great critique, made new friends and shared ideas and tips. What an amazing morning!

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Plein air- what's the big deal?

There is something about painting outdoors that has a hold on me. It just won't let go. Every year when the New England weather starts to warm, I feel the pull to be outside immersed in natural settings, particularly the beaches and marshes of Cape Cod. Plein air painting is challenging, it's hard, it requires a lot of grit and commitment. Why do I bother? Because there is nothing else like it- nothing! To surround myself with breathtaking scenery and to attempt to express what I feel and see on paper or canvas so that I can share with someone else is just the most rewarding experience! Do I always get it right or am I always happy with what I do? NO!! Plein air for me is an experience, a process and does not focus on the final product which is the painting. Plein air is an opportunity to observe color and light in natural forms and translate that into studies in a sketchbook or a small format canvas or paper. After having spent a couple hours outdoors, I always feel better. I lose myself and get in the flow and just let it happen. So now you can understand why I am so excited about the new plein air group that has formed through the Cape Cod Art center. Every Monday we'll paint in a different locale on the Cape. We'll go all over which will be a great opportunity for me to get to know areas of the Cape I'm not familiar with. We Cape Codders get comfortable with our own little corner and don't venture far and wide as often as we would like! So stay with me on this journey. I'll be posting my adventures in plein air painting over the next few months right here on my blog. Thanks for reading!

 Here I am painting in St. Mary's Garden on 6A in West Barnstable

Here I am painting in St. Mary's Garden on 6A in West Barnstable

 My watercolor plein air set up- the En Plein Air Pro

My watercolor plein air set up- the En Plein Air Pro

First plein air of the season

I'm very excited about the new plein air group that is forming through the Cape Cod Art Center.  We'll meet every Monday from here going forward until it gets too cold to paint. I'm hoping we can go through October- we'll see. Today we met in the garden at St. Mary's Church in Barnstable village, just down the road from the Cape Cod Art Center, I was not familiar with this venue, so it was a real treat to be introduced to such a beautiful, peaceful spot. We lucked out with sunshine, temps in the 60's and no wind- a plein air painter's dream! There were abundant daffodils, fiddlehead ferns, iris, hostas and many more flowers blooming or about to bloom. I can only imagine how beautiful it will be in another month! The garden is quite large so we didn't have to be on top of each other. We painted from 8:30- 11:15 and then had a short critique. It was so nice to meet new artist friends and to receive and give positive and constructive criticism. I look forward to many more Mondays painting with this group. We'll travel the Cape so it will be especially wonderful to discover new venues I may not be familiar with. Here's my painting from today. I took lots of photos so you may see more paintings like this in the future.

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30 in 30 February Challenge- Day 30!!

Thanks to everyone for following my 30 day painting challenge. I really appreciate your feedback and comments on my work. It was a treat to keep my head and heart in Bermuda while I painted throughout the month. It's time to move on- March will be devoted to working in oils. Expect to see some postings, but not everyday :) Here's a final Bermuda image- one last look at Horseshoe Bay.

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30 in 30 February Challenge- Day 29

Today's painting emphasizes the stormy Bermuda sky. So many days were cloudy and moody the last week of January. Even though I longed to see more bright blue at the time, it's been exciting to capture all the drama of the stormy skies inspired by my reference photos. My workhorse colors, ultramarine blue and burnt sienna, served me well!

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30 in 30 February Challenge- Day 28

It's the end of February, but still 2 days to go in the challenge. Now that I'm home, I'm back to painting. I have 3 paintings going right now, but this is the one that's done so I'll post it. Once again, I'm focusing on Warwick Long Bay in a square format. It has been challenging to paint the wet sand. I have a ways to go but I'll keep at it!

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30 in 30 February Challenge- Day 26

I've been away for 5 days and it's been a struggle trying to keep up with my blog posts. Since we were babysitting our 3 grandchildren in Chicago ( 3 under the age of 6 !), I obviously was unable to paint. However I did bring my grey scale markers and my sketchbook and was able to do a few value studies one afternoon. 

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30 in 30 February Challenge- Day 23

Today I’m posting a value thumbnail that I created before doing the Horseshoe Bay beach painting. I continue to enjoy working on these small value plans and they certainly help with planning my design and composition.

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30 in 30 February Challenge-Day 22

Once again, I’m favoring the square format. This is a small one- about 5 x 5”. I worked from my value study without referencing the photo. Since I want to break away from a strict representation of reality, this is a good exercise for me.

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30 in 30 February Challenge- Day 21

I'm changing up my format here, working in a square instead of a rectangular or panoramic format. These are the rocks of Horseshoe Beach. I call this one "Peek-a-boo" because I love the tiny glimpse of ocean and air peeking in between the rocks. 

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30 in 30 February Challenge- Day 20

There's a very special walk that one can do while visiting the south shore beaches of Bermuda. You can start at Horseshoe Bay and end at Warwick Long Bay or vice versa. The walk is only about a mile, but it takes you along the cliff, just above the beaches. There are so many wonderful   little paths that lead down to small intimate coves. You can explore by going down closer to the ocean, or staying slightly above the beach continuing along the path. In this painting, I show the path that departs at the end of Horseshoe Bay Beach. Just follow the trail east and enjoy!

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30 in 30 February Challenge- Day 19

I visited Horseshoe Bay beach twice while I was in Bermuda. Both days were cloudy and blustery, resulting in very dramatic lighting. This is the most popular beach on the south shore during the warmer months. Of course in January, there were only a few people walking the wide crescent shaped beach. I loved walking it myself, constantly looking for a variety of perspectives to inspire future paintings. Horseshoe Bay beach did not disappoint!

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30 in 30 February Challenge- Day 18

I'm exploring all the different possibilities that one photo reference can provide. Taking the image and cropping it, coming in closer, for a more intimate look is a good way to play with composition. I can't seem to tear myself away from the photos I took at Warwick Long Bay. The beach was so expansive and provided spectacular sweeping views. However, sometimes it's good to come in and take a closer look. Here's a painting that focuses more on the greenery than the sweeping view of ocean.

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30 in 30-February Challenge- Day 17

This is the same view that I posted yesterday. I've been working on a different surface- Saunders-Waterford Rough paper which works really well for leaving white specks of paper, especially perfect for ocean waves. 

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30 in 30 February Challenge- Day 16

Here is the painting created from the thumbnail sketch I posted on Day 14. I've been inspired by the skies of James Fletcher Watson. His combination of Cobalt Blue and Light Red is perfect for the stormy Bermuda skies.

 View of Warwick Long Bay

View of Warwick Long Bay

30 in 30 February Challenge- Day 15

Wow, half way there! I had to get up early and finish this small painting I started yesterday because I have a very busy day today. I have 2 more going that are not completed yet. There's a lot of drying time involved with watercolor so I've learned to work on multiple paintings simultaneously. There's no down time that way- only drying time and moving on to the next one!

 Stormy Skies over Warwick, watercolor

Stormy Skies over Warwick, watercolor