Thursday, June 3, 2010

You gotta head out sometimes!

Meandering Along the Southern Oregon Coast

A big part of being an artist, in my mind, is the ability to head out into the field, and practice your skills en plein aire.  Something I find challenging, relaxing, adventuresome, and just plain fun.  My main trips to the great outdoors are to the Oregon Coast.  Dramatic jetting rocks, blue waters, shining sun, and hiking trails; all these elements create a weekend to be enjoyed.  My medium of choice is watercolor.  Easy to pack, lightweight, fast drying, watercolor is the perfect medium to drag with you on a hike.

The above painting is from a tall bluff at Harris Beach State Park in Brookings, Oregon.  A favorite among Oregonians, a sunny day at this park is well worth the drive.

This painting is from the bluff known as Otter Point, a few miles north of Gold Beach, Oregon.  A small hike to the tip of this bluff, and a look south is this scene.  But beware, the wind really blows out there!

To get to this view, I climbed down the north side of Otter Point, and settled on a rock in a very warm little cove.  This place was tranquil, and I plan on returning soon.
Another scene from the overlook of a bluff.  The immediate cove is Cape Sebastian, then Meyer Creek flows into the ocean, followed by a long beach, then Pistol River flows into the ocean on the far side of this view.  Hwy 101 drops down from the ocean mountains to follow the beach in the amazing location between Brookings and Gold Beach, Oregon.  This beach is another favorite spot.  However, if you plan on hiking the Pacific Coast Trail from this overlook, it's a steep trail down to the beach, and quite an extraneous hike!

This final painting is from the Thomas Creek Bridge Lookout, north of Brookings, Oregon.  The Thomas Creek Bridge is the highest bridge in Oregon at 345 feet from sea level.  Another beautiful spot, and I enjoy the contrast of lush green foliage, and this wind-battered tree.

A great tool in any adventure outdoors is a guide.  A great one for the Southern Oregon coast is 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range (Oregon 100 Hikes)

Another Trip To A Local Park

Another place I enjoy a visit is Litha Park in Ashland, Oregon.  Meticulously manicured gardens, and a trickling picturesque creek create gentle and beautiful views.  Visit the Wikipedia page for the history.

Upper Lithia Park is a quieter area, away from the playing kids, hustling downtown, and Shakespeare festival.  This little spot by the creek was bursting with plants.  The challenge with painting this subject on the spot is capturing all the detail of the plant life quickly.  I don't want to paint every leaf, but I still want to viewer to understand those leaves are there.  Impressions are key to this subject.  However, once I've finished with this session, I will take a photo, and once back in the studio, this study can lend some perspective to a final piece that I may have missed just in a photo reference.

Here I've abandoned the paint for pencils.  In the lower park there is an open spot of grass that is a popular stop to sit back and enjoy the park.  With live figure drawing, I cannot seem to apply watercolor fast enough to capture people who don't know to hold still.  But hey, pencil is great, too!

So give a painting excursion a try....