Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sunrise On Assateague

6"x8" oil on Belgian linen mounted on archival board

"Each golden sunrise ushers in new opportunities for those who retain faith in themselves, and keep their chins up....Meet the sunrise with confidence. Fill every golden minute with right thinking and worthwhile endeavor. Do this and there will be joy for you in each golden sunset."
- Alonzo Newton Benn

I'm back from Chincoteague and now that the laundry's done, I'm off on the next adventure. It's birthday week at our house (both my husband & I share this week) but I'm three days older, so I get to celebrate first. That's another story for later in the week! But I'm writing this on a train to DC!

I've been wanting to tell you about the Paint-out event I spent in Chincoteague, VA last weekend. The Chincoteague Cultural Alliance hosts "Second Saturday" events all year long. For the month of September, they host a most wonderful Plein-aire Paint-out, exhibit and sale. It's well publicized and attended. Most of the artists attending paint Friday and Saturday, but some come earlier in the week to paint. I drove down on Thursday from CT and arrived with enough daylight to scout out the places I wanted to paint this year. For those not familiar with the area, Chincoteague is an island off of the eastern shore of Virginia, right near the border of Maryland. It's a small town with marinas, and famous for their oysters! the next island east of Chincoteague is Assateague, a National Park known for its wild ponies, made famous by the "Misty of Chincoteague" story.

I don't think I've ever seen the light as beautiful as I did on Thursday evening when we drove in. At 7:00pm the angle of light brought out the rich colors in the marsh grasses, trees, and even the mud flats. I'd been watching the times for sunset, and knew I wouldn't have enough time to set up & paint the rest of the evening. Perhaps if I'd just arrived another 30-50 minutes earlier? So I just stared....and took photos....and made plans for Friday! The weather was perfect and holding. Friday morning I set my alarm for 5:30am to be able to get out & set up for a sun-rise painting at the same marsh area over on Assateague. I paint in this area at least once each year, and I know the ponies make their rounds at some point during the day.

So, today's painting is "Sunrise at Assateague", a 6x8" oil on Belgian linen mounted on archival board.

The light moves fast at 6:30am. I kept things small this trip, bringing only 5x7 & 6x8 panels. I set up & began indicating all the largest land & tree masses, and BOOM- here comes the sun. I quickly decided where I wanted this in the tree-line. As it continued to climb the colors in the marsh grass continued to change and illuminate. I'm not a 'early' morning person, but if you've never watched the sun come up....and I mean really - sit- and slowly- take - it - all in....it's well worth your effort. As I was painting/watching/looking with intense concentration, I'm pulled from my thoughts by whinnying! Lots of whinnying! I turn to the marsh side behind where I'm standing, they're still not in view yet, but I hear the ponies! So I turn back to my painting, and the intensity of looking, thinking, painting....and now I'm hearing "slosh, slosh, slosh, whinny" - they are right behind me making their way through the marsh. They look sort of like a wild parade with egrets riding on their back. It makes me smile with delight! But I have a painting to finish....must focus!

Now the painting of sunrises (and sunsets for that matter) have a big challenge- you just can't 'stare' into the sun, you go color blind for a bit, and it really makes it difficult to see anything. I found myself holding up one hand to block out the sun (once I had it down on my canvas) and continued moving my eyes across the area to see the colors I wanted in my painting.

I was painting a few yards away from Lisa Egeli (one of the many fine painters at this event) who happened to be among the several of us who had chosen that view. I asked her later how she handled the 'being blinded by the intense light' situation. She indicates all the land & tree masses on her canvas before the sun comes up, then as it's rising, indicates on her canvas where it will be....and then watches the colors. Once the sun is just above the treeline, it's easier to see the shapes between the trees - and she can indicate that easier. She remembers the colors she has just watched, and goes in with that, tends to her edges, and finishes up. I find these events helpful in sharing ideas with other artists, so I'll pass these along to my artist readers! At this point in the day, the sun is up, it's still before 8am and I have a little green cottage with a fushcia colored crepe myrtle waiting for me on Maddox Street back in town! That is, after I stop for a big breakfast to get me through the rest of the day!

Contact me to purchase this painting: roxannesteed@gmail.com

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