Beavertail Light, Oil on Board, 8 x 10
My move to Jamestown came just in time to enjoy the summer season of painting and sketching on this beautiful island. The image above shows a painting I had done during the first two weeks of my arrival. The day was fickle in its light, flirting with cloudiness but not quite overcast . ( A larger painting of a truly overcast day (at nearby Ft. Getty) is currently on display at the Jamestown Town Hall.) The start of summer has been challenging at times for the plein-air painter due to the changeability of the light and at times stiff breezes.
I have always wanted to attempt a kind of outdoor still life, the subject being the beloved sea roses. (These hardy beauties, I learned, are looked upon as a kind of weed in other parts of the world such as on the coast of Holland .) Well, it seems what I carried back from this beach at Ft. Getty is a landscape featuring beach roses, not an intimate study. I must yet paint a true still life of these roses!
Note that the last two works shown are larger sizes than my usual smaller oil sketches. Once in a while I think it is good for painters who continually do smaller work to "stretch themselves" and have fun with a bigger canvas or board. The Beach at Ft. Wetherhill shows a wonderful small beach often populated by scuba divers as well as sunbathers. It has this remarkable rock formation with what looks like a small grotto carved into it and always scaled by youthful bathers. No diving is allowed from these rocks, but not everyone heeds the warning. Again, the challenge here was to include the salient elements without allowing the other equally beautiful aspects of the place to intrude upon the focal area.
The oil sketch above is, like most of my outdoor work, slightly unfinished. I looked down upon this trail which was bordered on the left by rocks and on the right by a slope having some threadbare trees filtering the late afternoon light streaming from the right. I had set up on the east side of the island where the shadows ,to me, are more helpful in establishing mood. Most visitors to Beavertail flock to the west side in the late afternoon to watch the often spectacular sunsets.
Off-island, I am at the beaches, particularly in the late afternoon. In the painting above I captured the particular markings of this subject well. In the far-to-middle distance is a breakwater, there are the rocky outcroppings joining shore to sea, and the lifeguard chair. This painting will receive more attention in the studio, particularly with respect to the rendering of the figures and the life guard chair with resting surfboard. Most of these later elements were in a state of flux-- not only the figures moving as they packed up and left the beach, but also the life guard who went off duty at 6PM-- and took the surfboard with him! I think the sketch did succeed in coloring and atmosphere; indeed, it was a joy to paint.
Another subject that I love to paint is the growth along ponds. Although the oil sketch above shows the joyful waterlilies in the foreground, the song of the sun continues to the leaves of the green pond plants behind them and the sunlit and dappled large rock before the tree. Again, such subjects--even if they "fail" as paintings -- are foods for the painterly soul.
Enjoy the season with a brush in your hand!