Sunday, August 3, 2014

Plein Air Large

The work in progress leaning against my car.

Near a fishing pier at the western tip of Santa Rosa Island and bordering the Gulf of Mexico, is a serene little "lake" of seawater enclosed by the surrounding beach. Before the Hurricane 10 years ago, it was a little shaded oasis surrounded by trees where beach goers could go to escape the heat and sun of the open beach. The trees are gone now but the long sweeping lines of the dunes gives it still a sense of calm and serenity. This is the spot I chose to try a very large plein air painting. 

I chose a 24x48 inch canvas and covered the back with brown paper to keep the sunlight out.The canvas size size was partly an experiment to see if anything good can come out of working so large the field. But it was also what the long lines of the scene seemed to call for. I didn't bother with an umbrella. I knew it would be more of a distraction covering only part of the canvas, than a help. I set up on a clear afternoon, angled my canvas to catch the smallest possible amount of wind, and waited for the late day light. Near sundown, the white sand of the Florida Gulf Coast lights up with all the colors of the late day sky and the dunes take on beautiful vivid blue and violet shadow shapes, but effect doesn't last long.

On my first day out, I was content to get the main shapes, values and approximate colors down. When the sun went down I packed up and waited for another day with similar conditions.

at the end of day one

On day two I set up at the same spot on top of a wall. For the sake of accuracy, the wall I'm on doesn't go around the whole fort but encloses some batteries facing the Gulf of Mexico. 

Here's the view I was painting.

I still need another session in the field with this canvas to gather some more information. At that point I'll decide whether to call it done or give it more time in the studio.
When I next blog about this painting, I'll  talk about the palette of colors I used and I'll share my conclusions about working this large en plein air. 

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