Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tweeking Photographs

Two weeks before Hurricane Sandy devastated the beaches of Central New Jersey, my wife and I vacationed at a B&B and the roamed the shore, mostly in rainy weather, but, hey, we were on vacation!
I took a number of photos on Long Beach Island, mostly uninhabited, but with a few public beaches. It was famous for teenagers who wanted to "make out". The variety of vegetation was impressive compared to the Great Lakes, but this is a warmer climate.

  This photo had plenty of potential but I wanted a stronger focal point and some eye travel. We were amazed at the flowers, not knowing if they bloomed all summer or were the result of the steady rainfall. We were accompanied by the gulls and a few isolated surf fishermen. In drawing thumbnails for a study, I enlarged the big dune on the left and eliminated the "X" shape of the plants and flowers in the right-center.  The result is this 8x16 oil study, which is worth a larger version sometime this winter.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

If at first you don't succeed....

Cave Lake Inlet 8x10 Oil/Panel
A friend and I packed our plein aire gear and drove to Carter Caves State Park, a delightful place to paint with natural arches, trails, rock formations, streams and, of course, caves. With the temperature at about 30 degrees I set up the easel, premixed piles of paint and proceeded to fail miserably. We attributed our difficulty to it being our first paint-out of the year, where we were overwhelmed by detail:  the rock formations were beyond difficult with a multitude of subtle colors, layer upon layer of limestone and a rapidly moving sun with its long winter shadows.   
We took plenty of photos and, back in the studio, gave ourselves the time and patience to sort through the scenes for subjects. Cave Lake is a small lake surrounded on three sides by marsh grasses, with crystal clear water.  The bare trees were backlit by the strong sun and had to be painted wet over dry.
We vowed to return later in spring and take advantage of the simpler views and trails. No day spent painting is wasted even when you paint "wipe-offs". We've already selected our sites for the next visit and there is just something always energizing about fresh air, rock and sky. We both slept well that night.