Color Sketches while in Oriental, NC

This past weekend I had a chance to hang out with relatives in North Carolina and go sailing on my uncles boat in the Pamlico Sound (near Oriental, NC).  I managed to get my paint box through TSA inspections somehow (even though it looks like a perfect bomb-in-a-box kit) and get in a couple quick color sketches.

Ahhh!  The sun-pallet dillemma.
(5×7 canvas panel, acrylic) Ahhh! The sun-pallet dilemma.

This was a view from the marina and a good lesson in how hard it is to paint water looking towards the sun!  The sun was positioned just to the right and above the trees off to the right of the painted scene.  I pulled my baseball cap bill down and set my sunglasses on the tip of my nose, so I was peeking through the slit above the sunglasses and bottom of the bill.  I’m sure that was an impressive look to the sailors passing by on their way back into the docks. It did reduce the glare some, but I’d look down at my pallet and the colors still looked darker than they were.  I’d mix them and go to paint and they’d be lighter as my eyes adjusted (not to mention the annoying sun spots).  So, I gave it a couple attempts, waved my white flag in surrender, and moved on.

5x7"-ish on scrap hardboard
(5×7-ish acrylic on hardboard) This is a Han Christian sailboat moored near our sailboat.

The second scene, also from the docks, was of a beautiful Hans Christian sailboat catching the mid-morning sunlight. I had just about given up on it since a huge yacht was parked behind it blocking the view, but just as I was about to go the yacht cranked the engines and left!  I got most of the color notes down while I was there on the dock and added the last finishing touches at home.  Much happier with this one.

iPhone plein air from the window seat view arriving into Austin.
iPhone plein air from the window seat view arriving into Austin.

While I thought my painting chances were over, I looked out of the airplane window on my way back to Austin.  Out came the iPhone and the Bushes 3 app.  While it’s “digital painting”, it follows the same rules.  I start with a blank “canvas” and use my finger (brush) to capture the scene right on the spot.  It seemed too fake for me at first, and then I realized it lacks nothing in the challenge of seeing colors and putting down accurate values and perspective.  I do recommend it!

Now I’ll be getting ready for a month long plein air journey hiking northward across North Carolina along the Appalachian Trail in June!  Can’t wait!


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