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Parsons Beach and Ducks

On the 26th I finished my last summer class and now I’m able to fully enjoy the weather. The next day we headed up north to visit my girlfriend’s sister in Kennebunk, Maine. She lives a few minutes from Parsons Beach, so we hopped on over there and spent the early afternoon soaking up the sun. I actually soaked up too much sun. The sunburns have been annoying. Time to get the season really started and buy some sunscreen.
Sarah and Allison

We were there for about three hours and I probably got two hours of quality painting in. Spent a good thirty minutes at the start figuring out what to paint. Eventually I settled in and painted my girlfriend and her sister. It came out pretty decent for a sketch. Used a 5″ x 7″ panel.

On Sunday I squeezed in a couple sketches of mallard ducks for Sketch Daily’s summer prompt.
Mallard Male

Mallard Female and Babies

Down behind my apartment in Newmarket, New Hampshire is a boat launch that slides out into the Lamprey River. Any time of the year a flock of ducks can be seen waddling around the area. During the winter they lay across the pavement for warmth. During the summer they hangout in the adjacent park and beg for breadcrumbs. I park my car down there some days and they always shuffle on over to say hello and see if I have anything to share.

Guess they were my inspiration. Though I didn’t have any pictures of them, so I had to make do with what I found through a Google search.

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Back From the South

My body is trying to readjust to the cold and I’m not helping the process. I dipped down in a hot tub earlier today and then relaxed in a steamy sauna. I’m just not built for the cold. I think it’s all genetics. My dad’s ancestors were the Choctaw from the bayous of Louisiana, so a predilection for heat must be in my blood. Still, it’s nice to be back home.

Today I ran into one of my old professors and we were talking about the art I saw on this week’s trip. Here are a few of my favorite paintings:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Bellona – Rembrandt

I saw this painting and immediately fell in love with one thing: that shield. Rembrandt’s mastery of light is quite apparent in the shadowed face of the Medusa and the slow progression of scattered light over the shield’s surface. It feels so metal and yet so real. But I could only stare at it for so long before I had to move along. If the week was a whirlwind, our museum trips were super-cyclones. We tried to see as much as possible before moving on to the next stop. I don’t regret that. It was what I wanted to do. But I also look forward to the vacations where I can relax in these museums and take time to study the art.

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Chrysanthemums in the Garden at Petit-Gennevilliers – Gustave Caillebotte

The photograph doesn’t do this painting justice. Of course, I could say that about every painting. This photograph just doesn’t capture the transitions from light to dark. It was great to see how Caillebotte dealt with lights in the dark and darks in the light. And I just love how the canvas is almost split in half at a diagonal by the light.

Marie Julien

Marie Julien – Vincent van Gogh

I’ll admit that I wasn’t always a van Gogh fan. Back in school we would look at his paintings and I’d struggle to see what the big deal was. Then I saw his other paintings. That’s when I started loving van Gogh. Take this painting for example. It’s a blend of texture, large shapes, small shapes, line, saturated color, and complementary and contrasting colors. There’s something firm and solid about the painting and yet it is built up by small brush strokes.

Irises

Irises – Vincent van Gogh

I saw a lot of van Gogh on my trip. And I came to like his flower paintings the most. I’d like to incorporate more flowers in my own paintings.

The National Gallery of Art

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The Island and Bridge of San Bartolomeo, Rome – Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

On our way back north we stopped in DC and managed to spend a little time in the National Gallery of Art. It felt quite small compared to the MET.

I like this particular painting because it is able to represent a city with simple shapes.

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The Tragic Actor – Edouard Manet

I see this painting as a counter piece to James McNeill Whistler’s Symphony in White, No. 1. If only because of its heavy and all encompassing use of black. I’ve lately been intrigued by paintings that focus mainly on one color.

edgar-degas-girl-in-red-ca-1866Girl in Red – Edgar Degas

Degas’ technique attracted me to this painting. Everything seems scraped and blurred to the point that the colors flicker and glow. It’s as if the colors bleed through each other.

A21167.jpgInterior, after Dinner – Claude Monet

I first saw this from across the room and then was surprised at how loose it was when I got closer. It works well from afar because of Monet’s use of light. The mind fills in the small details that the large shadows don’t distinguish. It would really be a great painting to do a study of if I could get into the museum with my easel.

Inspired by all the art I saw, I made sure to get some drawings down in my sketchbook.

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On Monday we journeyed from Columbia to Charleston and relaxed on the beach. We were there for four hours while I worked on the above sketch. I’m not exactly pleased with how it turned out, but I learned I was really working too big to be effective with markers.

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We arrived at 12:30am and the beach was mostly empty. It didn’t stay like that. For the rest of the day I had people asking me questions about my drawing. One guy asked to take pics of me drawing so he could prove to his art teacher friend that not all students were getting non-stop wasted on spring break.
spring break me1I applied and reapplied sunscreen all day long and I still got burnt. The backs of my knees and my ears got the worst of it.

Man my neck looks weird and elongated in this photo. I definitely was standing too close to the drawing.

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When we were done with the beach we drove into Charleston proper. The city is like a beautiful movie set. I’d love to live there some day.

Because I was unsatisfied with my beach drawing, I drew a portrait of my girlfriend as we waited for dinner at Kickin’ Chicken. Then it was a two hour drive back to Columbia, where we fell immediately asleep and woke up early for more fun.

On Tuesday we went to Congaree National Park and explored the swamps and hanging moss. We didn’t have real hiking equipment and thus were confined to the boardwalk. Though were still able to take in a huge chunk of the park’s beauty. I’d like to go back and travel deep into the swamp and see the amazingly tall champion hardwoods.

From there we went to the Riverbanks Zoo.

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There were very few people at the zoo and we only ran into crowds when we crossed paths with school groups.

My first few sketches didn’t turn out too bueno, but I hit my stride once I got to the flamingoes.
springbreak2015003I enjoyed the reptile house since those lizards were kind enough to hold still for me. My favorite drawing of the day is the one of the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana.

springbreak2015004Later we passed through the aquarium section and I found an unlabeled fish that was happy to patiently pose for me.
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After seeing all the animals, we went to the flower garden and I got in a quick sketch of a brick arch and its surroundings. We were exhausted at that point and called it quits for the day and returned to Columbia. The rest of the trip we drove from city to city without a home base to return to at night. We arrived back at my parents’ house at 2am on Friday. It was a hectic end to our week, but I’m happy with all we got to see.

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Rain on Peak’s Island

 

Summer activities and work kept me from a blog post last weekend, but that’s okay. I was able to get some sketching done this Independence Day. I went with the girlfriend up to Peak’s Island off the coast of Portland, Maine. It was a quirky and interesting place. People were riding around in patriotic themed golf carts and we saw a woman walking her pet macaw. Unfortunately, it was raining most of the time we were there, so I was only able to do a quick watercolor. I chose a coastal scene of a lighthouse island and then got to work.aHI3VA5

 

I split my 9″x12″ paper in half and did a one minute preliminary sketch. Then I slapped some quick color on it. All in all, it turned out pretty decent. I was unhappy with it at first, but looking at it now I appreciate the looseness. I just wish I could’ve defined the lighthouse in the background a little more.

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Odiorne Point

I’ve been going to Odiorne State Park since grade school. With its science center and tide pools the park is perfect for educational purposes. It is also great for unplanned day trips. Which is how my girlfriend and I found ourselves at the park last weekend. We woke up, saw it was nice out, grabbed our watercolors, and headed off to the coast.

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There are things I like about this painting. The ocean, the black rocks, and my girlfriend’s shirt. But there are plenty of things I’m unhappy with. Chief of them being my execution of the bench and its shadows. Something went wrong there. I also don’t particularly like the saturated green bush in the middle. But for a two hour, 9″x12″ painting, it’s all right.

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Umbrellas at Daytona

 

Friday was my last day in Florida and we spent the majority of it at Daytona Beach. It was a decent beach, but I won’t be making it a go to destination next time I’m in the area. The sand was rather hard and parts of the main strip were rather sketchy. Still, it was a fun day and I managed to get a 9″x12″ painting out of it. So I’m happy.

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When I first sat down to start the underlying ink sketch the frontmost two umbrellas were not there. As I worked, more people showed up and changed the composition. And my painting benefited from it. I feel like I achieved a nice layering effect with the umbrellas that gives the painting more depth.

I’m definitely becoming more comfortable with using more saturated color. I no longer start too light and have to paint over a section several times.

Finally, I have the sad news that I accidentally left last week’s sketch in Florida. Hopefully the cleaning ladies like it.