Friday, July 11, 2008


My cold and I, and my friend Irene arrive in the late morning to say Hey to the artists painting along the Yachats shoreline. In the estuary, sinuous trails of water are left behind by the tide. I am tempted by the shapes, but the wind...
Along the north shore, there is less wind, and I set up my easel in a wide stance with a small canvas, not wanting to set much sail for the gusts to grab. Every once in a while I look down at the gulls. They are feasting on something among the rocks, and every once in a while one takes a bath in the water left by the tide. The trees here attest to the wind, and the weather, and the difficulty of hanging on to their needles. Every single branch is bent and even the twigs turn away from the prevailing blow. Struggle creates bonsai.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cummins Creek, Neptune State Park

I have a cold. My nose has become a trumpet and my head feels stuffed with balloons. I can’t sleep. So I go out with the other painters to Cummins Creek.
It’s a beautiful spot. There’s a bridge arcing over a creek and the windwept trees are backlit. Painters are nestled in and among the rocks, where gusts of wind are not quite blowing over their easels. The wind makes the balloons in my head expand. So I climb in my van and drive to another overlook where I can paint from within my steel and glass cocoon.
A happy, toasty two hours inside my cocoon has me contemplating the colors of the rocks (purple), the recession of greens (dramatic), the various ways to make the ocean look as though it’s flat. Thinking of color keeps me from thinking about my cold until suddenly my canvas is covered. No more decisions to make. I decide to go home and take a nap.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The wind is howling from the north. All along the pathway down the south cliffs, painters have set up camp. The rock scouped against our backs is like a reflector oven. I feel almost, but not quite, warm.
The rocks have arranged themselves wonderfully for my painting. A fog drifts in, shifting the colors to violets and greens. I capture the color notes in the fog, ignoring the brightening colors when it burns away.

In the afternoon, I join my friend Carol on the sand. We both paint the scupted sand cliffs above us. The sands are so full of color, from soft blue-grays to deep rust. The sand is everywhere, in my equipment, in my palette, and embedded in my painting. Evidence that it was painted en plein air.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Today I meet Erik Sandgren, and a whole lot of painters from all over the place, mostly Oregon. He has a certain sense of humor. "The dog’s name is Sage. If he walks real close to you and rubs against you, it’s called a Sage brush." Twenty plus painters disappear into corners all over the park. In the afternoon, we get together and share our paintings. Lots of big watercolors with energetic brush work. It almost made me want to paint in watercolor.
My painting spot is just at the edge of the bridge, and I sit behind a bush to stay out of the wind. The water has surprising purple and orange tones. I enjoy the variety of colors in the water and in the greens of the shore. When I quit, I am sunburned and my hands are cold. Ah, the sacrifices we make for our art.
Sorry about the poor photo of the painting. I'll take another one soon.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Ona Beach

Same paint spot as yesterday, but better weather. Because of the sun on the water, the values were reversed from yesterday. Attached my umbrella to my cart today. It has the virtue of not pulling my easel over, though I don’t know how steady the cart would be in wind. I pulled the car in front of me to give me some shelter and painted in the shade of the tree.
There’s a lot of color in this tree. Greens of mosses, dark-blue not-whites and almost black grays. It is easy to get lost in seeing a lot of difference and miss the relationships.
After painting, I walk around and take photos. This is a beautiful creek, with a different view from each picnic table. I meet several frisbee dogs, and pass a couple of people swimming in the creek. They must be a whole lot warmer than I am.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Ona Beach

Foggy again, less windy, but definitely misting. I drive to Ona Beach, and set up under my tailgate, facing a group of Aspens along a stream. The scene is placid, complex, and very green. I suspect, as I mix my greens, that this is going to be a problem. Indeed, I have a great deal of difficulty differentiating the greens in the foreground from those in the background.
Not a speck of wildlife appears to challenge the spitting fog. A kayak or two ambles by, leaving ripples in the green water. The landscape against the brilliant yellow and orange looks even more green.
A photographer passes by, looking for a way down to the creek. He’s interested in the water, not the trees. I am in love with the twisting leaning branches, and the variety of colors on the trunks that are not green. The mist gets heavier. I pack up my paints.
Bringing the painting into the house, I take a quick look. I was afraid of that. Way too much green. Greens running into each other, a complex, monotonous soup. These things happen.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Alsea Bay

It is misty and windy at the beach, so I drive 2 miles up Alsea Bay to a view of colorful grasses and hills across the bay. I decide to paint two paintings. One with careful attention to realistic color. The second, pushing the colors to create a brilliant, colorful scene. I am foiled almost immediately. The grasses provide an irresistible temptation to show lots of color, and I find I am pushing color automatically. I paint a scene of trees for my second painting. I will have to try this exercise another time.
Despite being right beside the road, the scene is very peaceful. I have a nice wide berm and am not threatened by cars coming along the straightaway. The brisk wind is softened as it comes around my car door, and I have bungeed the umbrella to the doorway for extra stability. It’s like having a portable windbreak. The wind sighs through the grasses, and redwings call, flitting in and out of their hideaways. A dragonfly visits my colors, perhaps hunting the gnats that hover around my palette (one volunteers to be part of the painting.) As I finish my second painting, sunshine breaks through the clouds over the bay.