Friday, January 21, 2011

Snow & Ice on Great Bay

A partially sunny afternoon with temperatures in the 20's made it a nice day to paint on Great Bay.  This is a 6,000 acre salt water bay and one of my favorite places to paint along the seacoast.
It is one of the largest estuaries on the Atlantic Coast and at 10 miles inland is one of the most recessed. It is an amazing place.
I'm setting aside a day each week meeting up with a few friends to paint. This is a change for me. I often paint alone, wandering from spot to spot.  I usually paint out of the back of my car if possible. 

This takes a little more planning and I like the new locations, perspectives and painting gear I am exposed to by painting with others. Todd Bonita and I painted together this day.

I was using my 8x10 light weight set up. I wanted everything to fit into one medium sized back pack as we were walking in a short distance to our location. This is Judson's 8x10 pochade box. 

Todd is trying out new equipment.  This is his half size French easel. He carries his paints, brushes and medium in a small wooden box.

A brand new addition that he was testing this day was a Richeson French Mistress;  an expanding palette that triples your mixing space. Or you can also use it like a table top and park brushes and small gear on it....

True to the nature of experimenting I did my sketch with a different medium than the ink or cool gray markers I usually use. This day I used charcoal pencil. I noticed that Phillip Koch does plein air sketches in charcoal so I thought I'd try it for a change.
Todd was testing an expandable view finder that he could adjust to the ratio of the exact size of panel he was using. 

I keyed in my painting and blocked in my darks and masses in the approximate chroma, value and temperature I decided on. 

 I am using a limited palette of titanium white, cadmium lemon, cadmium red, french ultramarine and burnt sienna for my sketch.

I set up facing toward the sun so my panel would cast a shadow on my palette and keep my panel and paints in the same lighting conditions. 

Its hard enough painting with all that snow bouncing the light all around so I didn't want to add direct sunlight to the mix. Here's the 8x10 sketch, oil on canvas panel. Todd kept working away till dusk.

I've got a new paint I'm going to try - underpainting white. Todd was using it and it was setting up really fast, even in the cold temperatures.

Of course the best colors showed up as the sun went down and each phase only lasted for about 3 minutes. 
Next week we are thinking of setting up and painting a pile of (5x7's and 6x8's) 10 min sketches to capture the color changes as they occur.  This should be fun and doable with enough premixed colors waiting to be used....stay posted !


  1. Great photos and post...that last photo is really beautiful..look at that deep blue in the snow, wow! It was really week I'm treating with throw away hand warmers.

  2. I really like your work a lot, Mary. I am a student of Todd's. Your blogs are great. I'm learning a lot from your sketch techniques! (pat n.)

  3. Thanks Todd! It was great to paint on Great Bay- such a beautiful place.

  4. Thank you Pat! I'm happy you are learning a lot. I'll be offering some sketchbook plein air classes in the spring and summer. I'll post those dates here and on my website. I'm amazed at the great sketchers out there - some awesome work!

  5. Dear Lady guerrilla, Yes, magnificent! If you thought we were brave to do this... wait till you see what I have for everyone next week...