Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Bit of Salt Does a Body Good

Most people find it hard to believe that I rarely go to the beach even though it is less than a half mile from my front door. For one thing, I work, a  lot, especially in the summer. And even though my studio is in my house and I'm the boss, I still have to crack the whip when I get a bit lazy. The other reason I don't go to the beach is that I just can't bear the thought of baking in the white-hot sun on a pile of sand amidst people using outdoor voices and screaming, sand-kicking children. And yes, I do like children, at least some of them. But honestly, give me a canal, salt marsh, creek or the maritime forest to wander and I'm in artist heaven.

However, on those rare occasions when I find myself yearning for a taste of salt on my tongue or a chance encounter with a pirate who looks just like Johnny Depp, I make my way to the beach.
Once there, I will poke through bits of ocean debris and watch the birds as they eye me, sizing me up to see if I have brought any food for them. And when the weather turns fall-crisp and the crowds thin out, I grab my sketchbook, settle in near the dune line and sketch for a couple of hours.

In the past, I did a fair amount of painting en plein air (on location). A friend of mine would join me once a week and I got hooked on painting the dunes, exploring all the colors of the vegetation and sand in various weather conditions and at all times of day. We would return home windblown and refreshed, proud of our attempts to capture nature at its wildest.

But truly, my first love is and has always been field sketching, trying to not only replicate what I was seeing but also what I was feeling. So my portable easel has changed residency from the trunk of my car to the spare bedroom, and my Walkstool has filled the vacancy in the car next to my straw hat and sketch bag. Since I am all about change and flexibility though, my car trunk could soon become a condo.

"The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea."        - Isak Dinesen

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