Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tridelphia Reservoir

Tridelphia Reservoir, oils on canvas panel, 9" x12."
Yesterday I went back to paint at Tridelphia Reservoir with the Howard County Plein Air group. This time we met farther up the lake at another area new to me. Several artists I had met before were already there, and I was tickled to see an old friend from Lee Boynton's class: Rita Curtis. Rita is a very accomplished painter who is just starting to promote her work on Facebook

The water level at the reservoir was much lower than it had been a few weeks ago when we painted at the Greenbridge boat ramp, and these big rocks were exposed all along the banks--three large rocks projecting where a finger of the lake recedes seemed like the perfect focal point for a painting.

Lately I notice that I'm able to get down the variety of color and texture that I want in these plein air oil paintings. The ability is not consistent yet, but happens more frequently--I'm becoming more fluent in the language of color, as Lee would say. Though I probably should have put in a bit more violet in the reflections where the trees farthest away are.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Rained Out in Accokeek

Piscataway Creek at Low Tide, watercolor, 6" x 9-1/2."
Last weekend at Accokeek a group of friends had planned a kayak picnic to see the full moon rise over Piscataway Bay on Saturday evening. To travel light, I had taken only my watercolors.

The weather didn't cooperate--thunderstorms in the afternoon and into the evening forced us to call off our picnic on the water. In the afternoon, Linda and I went down to the newly-installed boardwalk at the park to try to get in a quick sketch. I was maybe ten minutes into my sketch when ominous steel-gray clouds began to crowd the sky. I hoped the storm might blow over to the east of us, but a minute later, I glanced overhead, and it was obvious we were in for it. I packed up as fast as I could and beat feet to my car. The downpour had not arrived yet so I grabbed my camera and went back to the creek to photograph the scene. The first drops started as Linda and I took photos; we ran back as the rain picked up, and by the time we got back to the car it was pouring. I finished this sketch from memory in Patrises' studio. It's interesting to see how much darker and somber the photo looks. To the naked eye there was a lot more color and light, particularly yellows in the marsh grass.

Instead of the picnic, we had a wonderful dinner at Josephine Withers'--her house is most usual; I remember reading about it in the Washington Post many years ago when it was first built, never dreaming I'd ever meet her and get to see it in person. She is an art historian and counselor, and a fabulous cook--her garden-grown tomatoes & veggies were a special treat.

Tickseed Sunflowers, watercolor, 10" x 7."
Next day, I went back with Linda to Piscataway to try for another sketch. The weather was once again threatening, and light sprinkles punctuated the morning, but gradually, the sky cleared. By the time I was finishing this one, the sun had come out and was heating up the day. It was one of those DC weekends: if you don't like the weather, just wait a few minutes.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Call of the Lotus

About a month ago Herb and I went down to kayak at Mattawoman Creek--though very hot, it was wonderful, except for having to wear those bulky life vests! We rented a tandem kayak from Up the Creek at Mattingly Park. I'm going back down again this weekend to visit my friend Patrise, and hopefully we'll do a moonlight paddle as the full moon rises this Saturday.

I wonder if the lotuses are blooming? We'll find out soon enough.

I'm off to Accokeek to paddle!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Brookeville Plein Air

Brookeville Home (307 Market St.), oils on linen panel, 12" x 9."

Last Saturday was Plein Air Olney's third paint-out of the season, held in Brookeville, a historic town north of Olney, MD. The painters were to register between 8 and 9 AM to have our panels stamped, and most of us were there on time, trying to get an early start to beat the heat.

During my years as an Olney-Sandy Spring resident I'd driven through Brookeville hundreds of times, but oddly enough, I'd never actually walked around the place. I had not realized there were all kinds of interesting gravel side streets with homes tucked way back there. I met up with Hiu Lai Chong, the hottest young painter around (she's won the top prize for both the Easels in Frederick and the Ellicott City Paint It competitions this year), and we walked around together looking for spots to paint.

We both settled on this house at 307 Market Street, as the Brookeville Walking Tour Guide informed me later. The house, built before 1809, has the look of an old Georgetown row house in the Federal style, but with a lot of side yard. The morning light on the old brick and the vine-covered facade brought out such wonderful colors, it was irresistible. A little shade across the street was another plus.

I set up very close to the curb where Georgia Avenue curves around sharply, and some workmen across the street kept yelling at me that I was sitting in the "death seat" because any southbound car taking the curve a bit too fast was bound to hit me. Fortunately, no such thing occurred, and I was able to finish my painting a short time after noon, when the light had changed completely. I went back to my car and got my sandwich so I could eat lunch in the shady yard of the Brookeville Academy where the wet painting sale would be later on. I had no energy for another painting and the heat was mind-boggling, so afterwards I just got my painting, put it in a frame and set it up on my easel (after cleaning the palette).

The reception and sale started at three, with a lovely spread of home-made breads, jams and watermelon. I wish we'd had more visitors and buyers, but considering the heat and vacation season, we were glad to have as many as were there.