Painting at the beach

by Janet Bonneau in Plein air painting

Earlier this month I spent the day at Alburg State Park Dunes, one of the longest sandy beaches on Lake Champlain, in northern Vermont, where I live. The day was hot and humid, the beach crowded with people. While the rest of my family set up chairs by the water, I scouted out a good spot under some trees to set up my easel and get painting! I decided on a view looking towards the Adirondacks with a rocky ledge in the foreground which jutted out into the water. 

Before I could even get paint on the canvas, I began attracting the attention of beachgoers who were fascinated by the painting process – kids and their parents, a guy who ran a local guitar shop but who also loved art, an art teacher, a little boy who informed me that my painting looked ‘finished’ and that I should stop painting on it. Several people were surprised I was using oils (not sure why), some wondered if oils melted in the 90 degree heat (no they don’t).

After many tries, I finally got the composition I was looking for, blocked in my values and got most of the painting done before it was time to go. I added some finishing touches in my studio the next day and here is the final result. I may go back into this painting again to add a bit of extra brushwork or color here and there, but I generally don’t like doing that. I’d rather leave a painting alone, even a little unfinished looking, than overwork it and lose the freshness of the first impression.

This painting was my first try on a plein air waterscape and I hope to do more soon before that first Vermont frost hits the air!

 I ended up reconstructing the scene from memory and did a quick oil sketch of Alburg Dunes, as kind of a practice session in the studio. 
 Alburg Dunes from memory
 Alburg Dunes from memory, a quick oil sketch….

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