Monday, July 5, 2010

The Fourth of July

I have always loved holiday weekends. Well, who among us does not...three days off with nothing much to do but celebrate the holiday, visit with friends, barbeques, picnics, fireworks, etc. A chance to feel free of what a friend of mine once referred to as "the golden handcuffs", wear shorts and flip flops and pursue a passion. For some that means sailing or gardening or even catching up on housework that has gone unattended. For me it means doing what I always do...paint outside!...but I do it with a greater sense of freedom.

I have one friend who has been after me for sometime now to come and paint the view from the deck of her house on the beach in Bayville, NY. Now, as every artist knows, every one of their friends believes that they and only they have the greatest view on the planet. The problem usually is that while a view might be very nice it does not necessarily translate into a good painting. But I knew the general area where she lives and thought the prospects might be pretty good.

I arrived to find what was indeed a very nice view. I did compress a couple of elements, such as the osprey nest which was just out of my view to the left, to add some visual interest but am happy with the feeling of this painting. What really made this an unusual plein air painting event was that my friend refused to allow my champagne glass to run dry! I call it "Beth's View":

Saturday, the 4th, found me heading out east very early in the morning for two reasons. First, I had a particular reason for wanting to paint at a certain place in Stony Brook, NY and thought a high tide would be necessary for a successful painting. High tide was at about 5:30 AM and, while I didn't head out THAT early I was assured plenty of painting time before low tide. Second, if you live on Long Island you come to fear the phrase "Hampton's traffic" and especially fear it on holiday weekends. The earlier the better. I arrived in Stony Brook at about 7:45 AM and, while I knew where I wanted to go and had a rough idea where it was, suddenly realized I didn't know quite how to get there. I pulled into a parking lot along the water and asked two nice women, who were out for their morning walk, how to get where I was going. After they gave me very thorough directions and resumed their interrupted exercise I just stood for a moment and looked at the view in front of me. I decided I didn't need to go any further, got out my rig and painted "The Fourth of July - Stony Brook, NY":

I had an appointment with a commission client at noon today in Cold Spring Harbor, NY and, in view of a forecast that promised temperatures in the mid-90's as well as increased humidity, thought it might be best to get my painting in early. I was given permission to set up my gear in the parking lot of a local yacht club. I loved the haze that was already in the air and the way it made everything feel hot and yellow. I also was taken with the brightly colored kayaks on the beach on the left hand side which I really just suggested with a couple of brush strokes. "Kayaks":

I'm pleased by the fact that I think you can see the humidity increase over the past three days of painting. I'm also pleased that I am not out in the heat now but am instead in the studio writing to you all and looking forward to the fireworks later on tonight! A happy and safe Fourth of July to you all!