When I’m traveling and painting, it takes about three days for me to adjust my palette to the location and seasonal light upon the landscape.

Baccharis in bloom and pines

Though I’ve painted in Tyaskin, MD before, it’s always been in spring or summer.  The beauty of Baccharis in bloom against the autumn colors of pines, phragmites, meadow grasses and marsh is absolutely stunning.

Late afternoon light filtering through the forest

Every direction I turn, I see the opportunity to explore the autumn light bouncing off of indigenous plants, delighting my eyes with new and unfamiliar patterns and shapes.

K-car as en plein air studio

When time is short and the light is changing quickly, I skip setting up my easel.  The trunk of my K-car works just fine.

Anita’s meadow, Tyaskin, MD

I couldn’t resist one last painting as the late afternoon glow was fading…..

Baccharis in bloom and Phragmites

Just as I’m beginning to mix my colors intuitively, my visit to Maryland draws to a close.  Without doubt, I’ll return next October.  Not only is it exquisitely beautiful …… I can paint outside without covering myself in bug spray!

Color studies:  en plein air oil paintings, 5″ x 5″ on gessoed wood panels.

I have a warm spot in my heart for Muddy Hole Creek.  On my way ….. I stopped at Ellis Bay.

Ellis Bay, Maryland

I’m painting larger this time around.  I brought a view old (very old) canvases and primed the back with two coats of gesso.  I find it difficult to paint on small 5″ x 5″ panels.  Ellis Bay is about 18″ x 36″.   At about 1:30 I packed up and headed to my favorite spot at Muddy Hole Creek.

Muddy Hole Creek, en plein air oil painting

The Muddy Hole Creek painting is about 24″ x 30″.  I absolutely love the marshes!

Autumn is a perfect time of year to focus on the illusions created by high contrast values.  Watercolor is my choice of mediums for color/value studies that will result in capturing that gorgeous glow of sunlight passing through the translucent oak leaves of yellow and orange.

Oak Leaves at 3 pm, bathed in sunlight

Neutrals of the palette strengthen the apparent brilliance of fully saturated colors, creating an even stronger illusion of sunlight passing through translucent oak leaves in the late afternoon.

Back to morning weather sketches from home, Polt Mountain in New Jersey.  Depending on whether I was in the front yard or the backyard, the sky colors were totally different.

7 am, looking northwest, Polt Mountain, NJ

7:15 am looking southeast, Polt Mountain, NJ

The sun had risen a bit, adding more yellow light to the sky.  But still, the sky was more pink, gray and purplish looking north.

Sky lightening to the northwest

Morning weather sketches: A mix of watercolor and gouache on various watercolor papers.

Last day of a road trip vacati0n…. Tom is already asleep …. I was ten stories up reflecting on the last seven days on the road.

Gouache Travel Kit

I love those precious moments when I realize, and accept, that progress has been made.
I brought along gouache, but didn’t squeeze it out into the pans until last night, listening to the sound of the ocean waves breaking against the beach.  I brushed a bit of color onto the ink drawing I did of the kitchen in the motel room in the Outer Banks, NC.

Detail of ink drawing, Outer Banks Motor Lodge kitchen

This morning I awoke early to an amazing predawn light upon the ocean…

6:45 am, Ocean City, Maryland

This is my first weather journal painting in gouache.  My second was of three figures on the beach, out early to watch the sun rise. I wish they knew that their special moment was captured in my sketchbook….. but I don’t know them and they will never know….

One figure snapping a photo of the other two figures against the sunrise in Ocean City, Maryland …. gouache.

Color has taken on a new place in my vision….. I’m not sure where that place is.  In a week I leave on another journey… back to the Chesapeake Bay area to paint for six days…… Hmmmm.  Do I bring watercolors and gouache?  Oil paints? Acrylics?

I am finally mixing my pigments intuitively.  I need to stay healthy for another thirty years, at least….. the joy of color is just beginning!

We were fortunate to spend two nights in a small motel on the beach of the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

Shadows on the sand dunes. Watercolors in pans in Altoid Tin

The red splotches are from the backside of unresolved paintings that I’ve recycled into pages of a coptic-bound sketchbook.  I’m getting used to painting over splotched paper.  It was a bit unsettling at first.  Keeping in mind my ultimate goal of learning rather than producing, the splotches don’t matter.

Sketchbook drawing: painted en plein air, directly with watercolors.  I used normal watercolor ‘travel’ brushes rather than my waterbrush.

As we drove East on Route 64 toward the Atlantic Ocean, we were blinded by the rising sun.

7:30 am Route 64 North Carolina, October 11, 2012

The reflection of light off the white paper of the sketchbook made it impossible to see the color as I brushed it onto the paper.  The experience was the opposite extreme of painting musicians in the darkness of pubs at the Blues Jams.

sketchbook drawing: watercolor painted en plein air, en route.  Watercolor brush and limited palette of watercolor in Altoid Tin.

A waterbrush and fountain pen make sketching and drawing while traveling a breeze.  As Tom drives, I sit in the passenger seat recording the weather.

7 pm on Route 75, October 7, 2012

Whenever we stop to eat, sleep or take a hike, I capture the moment in quick sketches, carrying pen, brush and paints in my pockets.

Popcorn Overlook, Chattahoochee National Forest, Rt. 76, Georgia

Cabins at Carolina Landing, Fair Play, South Carolina

I would have liked to stay a bit longer at Twin Falls.

Twin Falls, Reedy Cove Creek, South Carolina

I’m using a very limited palette.

Twin Falls, Ink and Watercolor Sketch

In my Altoid Tin I have pans of watercolor that I have squeezed from tubes: Aureolin yellow, gamboge yellow, cadmium red light, scarlet, magenta, french ultramarine blue, cerulean blue, phthalo blue and viridian.  I haven’t had the need for anything else … so far.

Sketchbook drawings:  All but the top drawing were sketched first in ink with a fountain pen, followed by watercolor.

Three days on the road and nothing but gray skies….

7 am Route 79 in West Virginia

A bit later on Route 79

The sun broke through only twice so far ……

10:30 am on Route 64, West Virginia

Once on Route 64 in West Virginia and once ….

Keeneland Race Track, Lexington, Kentucky

at the Keeneland Race Track in Lexington, Kentucky.  We arrived early enough for me to do a quick ink and watercolor drawing before the races began.

My waterbrush and limited palette of the Altoid tin filled with five pans of watercolor pigments is working great for in-the-car-as-we’re-driving sketches as well as the carry-it-all-in-my-pockets touristy stops.

I’m getting a great deal of practice mixing an assortment of grays!

Sketchbook drawings:

Weather sketches ….. watercolor

Keeneland Race Track – drawn first with fountain pen followed by watercolor.

Impressions of fleeting moments …. painting the weather journal sketches is beginning to feel more intuitive, like the quick ink and watercolor sketches of the musicians playing together in a darkened pub.

7 am on October 1, 2012

The change from overcast mornings, noons and nights provided an opportunity to move back toward saturated hues, away from neutrals approaching gray or brown.  Even in the low light of dawn and dusk, color begins to appear in the landscape, reflecting back the light waves from the illumination of the sun and the sky.

6:50 pm, October 1, 2012

Daily Weather Journal Watercolor Sketches …. Dawn painted in my backyard … Dusk painted in my front yard.  Hmmm.  I wonder why backyard is one word and front yard is two.