My fascination with the ocean has been lifelong. Growing up on the beach, I listened to the waves crashing as I fell asleep at night, smelled the salt air as soon as we got close to home and had the Atlantic shore as my "backyard". I miss it every day, but never stop thinking about it and feel grateful that I was so blessed. I also learned to respect the ocean and it's power. The waves on the Aptos beach were large and loud and only seemed to quiet down when the day ended and the sun was setting. The birds gathered each evening along the shore and there was a kaleidoscope of different colors each evening. In this painting I chose a blue orange harmony. I used the water that pooled on the shore to lead the viewers eye through the gulls, back to the surf and beyond to the merging of sea and sky. The long horizontals of the clouds in the sky give a calming effect to contrast with the surf breaking the horizon line and the staccato movement of the birds as they gather on the shoreline. The patches of bright blue sky breaking through the clouds are reflected in the water to unify the painting.
New England weather isn't always cooperative for plein air painting. Some days, however, are perfect and 4th of July was one of those days. There was a clear blue sky, little wind, and it was warm and sunny. We were heading up to North Woodstock, NH for fireworks so decided to go up early and do a little painting. With no clouds, I sought out a spot where there would be shade and shadow patterns. There is access there to the Pemigewassit River with all of it's massive rocks, birches and water patterns; just what I wanted. I set up to paint and my husband went over to sit on a rock and read while he waited for me. When I glanced over and saw him sitting there, I knew he would be my subject that day. The colors and composition worked really well without too many modifications. After a quick thumbnail, I worked fast blocking in the value patterns. I knew I would have to settle on a light pattern since the sun angle would be moving and changing while I worked. I jotted that into my sketchbook. It was a really busy spot with a lot of people swimming in the river. I decided to leave them all out, although many of them came over to chat and watch me paint. So many young kids stood around me that I almost felt like I was back in my classroom giving a demo again. I spent two hours painting and then packed up to leave. My friend, who was downstream painting, came up and we discovered we had both been painting Stu that day. My friend's painting was from the opposite bank, showing Stu from the back and in the distance. I plan to go back and paint the river another time. I love doing figures in the landscape, but don't often have a "model" willing to sit still for me. For me, getting outdoors to paint is really special and plein air is my favorite kind of painting. I love it!