Drawing More from Art

When you choose a spot for plein air painting and the wind picks up and takes your paints away, what do you do?

It happened to me. Two Saturdays ago it was the Grand Prix of Art 2020. This is an annual en plein air painting challenge based in Steveston, BC. Because of Covid, the event became virtual and thus, international.

As you may know, a few of us get together regularly to paint or draw outside. The Upper Sunshine Coast is full of spectacular locations for exquisite compositions, and so it was that on August 29, we arrived at Block Bay at the edge of Powell Lake. As you can see, it is a lovely location. As you cannot see, it was very windy.

The Grand Prix is a 3-hour painting challenge. I was excited to be painting outside again. I had refreshed all of my acrylics in my colour palette, and had found a way to prop up the broken leg of my outdoor tripod easel. My canvas was prepped with orange as a base and I was ready!

I sat beside a large horizontal log, which was the barrier before a long drop to the lake. Just as I opened my palette of colours, the wind picked up and flew my palette over the log and down into the water. We could see it bobbing around, but it couldn’t be reached.

Luckily, I had driven to the spot, and it was only a 10-minute drive to get home. So off I went to replenish my paints (I managed to forget my white paint!), and picked up another palette. This photo is me once I got back. Note the bungee cords holding the palette to the seat and my canvas to the easel.

With only an hour left, all I could do was a very brief “block in”, which will be worked on at home without the interference of wind!

This summer, I have generally taken my sketch book to en plein air outings – that probably would have resulted in a more successful endeavour at Block Bay! Since the Grand Prix, we have been to two more locations. The next was Lang Bay Fish Hatchery. The Lang Bay river was flowing fast and a sunny day in the forest at the river’s edge provided lovely dappled lighting. I got about halfway to the end of completing my sketch of that site and will definitely finish it (middle sketch in the photo below).

And yesterday’s en plein air was at 3-Mile Bay, again on Powell Lake’s shoreline (first picture on the left). There is even more to finish there.

I am accumulating quite a number of sketches and I feel like my drawing abilities are improving (if only I could finish my drawings before heading home). Drawing in ink doesn’t allow for errors, and is a great way to train the eye to see lights and darks.

Have you picked up a pen and gone with some paper to some lovely outdoor location? How did your drawing turn out? I’d love to see some posts.

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