Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Beach Flip

It's been a busy summer, hasn't it? I'm really not ready to say goodbye to warm days, big blue hyrdangea blossoms, and fresh veggies from the garden, but there's definitely a hint of autumn in the air and I have to say I love having four seasons to experience every year. There's something wonderful to enjoy in each one. So bring it on, Fall!

We spent a week at Oak Island, North Carolina, this month (yes, the same Oak Island that has seen more than its share of shark attacks this year!) and I did a little bit of sketching while I was there. Here's my favorite page...

9" x 12", watercolor, Aquabee Super Deluxe sketchbook

It shows the views in every direction from the beach in front of our condo. That's me and my husband, Fred, sitting in our ancient beach chairs, vegging out with a book (me) and taking a nap (Fred). I painted the top three sketches and sketched the lettering in pencil while I was at the beach, sitting peacefully in the shade under our beach umbrella, with a soft breeze blowing and waves breaking on the shore.

But then a fly bit me on the leg, my sketchbook and supplies flipped up in the air, paint water spilled all over my sketchbook, and both of my brushes tumbled into the sand. (That's my version of a Beach Flip!) That was the end of my sketching for the day. I decided it was time to pack up my stuff and go for a swim (keeping a close eye out for sharks!)

I finished the fourth sketch (the northern view) later at home in my studio, painting from a picture I had snapped that day at the beach. I painted the lettering, added a simple border, and it was done.

This has been a beachy summer for me. From Maine to southern California to North Carolina, I've enjoyed the special peace and happiness that comes from being near the ocean. Walking on the beach, wiggling my toes in the sand, sitting and watching the waves roll in.....at the beach there are no timetables, no expectations, no "shoulds". The only requirement is to be there...to be mentally present and take it all in. It's good for the soul.

8" x 5", Derwent Inktense pencils, Aquabee Super Deluxe sketchbook

"The sea, once it casts its spell, 
holds one in its net of wonder forever."
Jacques Cousteau


  1. Your page is beautiful! I love the different views.

    1. Thanks! I thought it would be a good way to show more than I could with a single view point. And that great old song seemed so appropriate, given how happy I am whenever I'm near the ocean!

  2. Your ocean is perfection, Leslie! Those beach flies are the worst. I've been bitten many a time, though, thankfully, I've not yet soaked a sketchbook when I jumped up. Do you like the Aquabee sketchbook? I haven't heard of that one. How do you like it compared to the Stillman & Birn?

    1. Oh, it's far from perfection, Susan, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of it.

      I used to use Aquabee sketchbooks all the time before Stillman and Birn came along. I still like them a lot. The paper weight is 93 lb., but it performs like a heavier paper. It takes washes remarkably well, with very little bending or wrinkling. The price is fairly low, so it seems less precious and I'm more likely to play around in it. I think it's a great everyday sketchbook.

    2. Thank you, Leslie. I'll keep this sketchbook in mind to try. And as far as your ocean being far from perfection...not to me! I think it's beautiful. Water is such a challenge for me to paint. Did you use any gouache or masking fluid to preserve the whites or add sparkle?

    3. No, I just painted around the whites. And I scraped some highlights in the distant waves.

    4. I'm going to study this painting. I've tried waves using masking fluid, but I haven't liked how hard the edges turn out. The foam reads much more natural to me here, with the way you painted around the whites. Thank you for answering my question!


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