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En Plein Air

As often as I can, I like to work on location. I usually work for several hours, getting the feel for the composition and a good "sense of place." With Randy's expertise photography, I'm able to document the scene so that I can finish back home in the studio. Check here to see where I'll be next, where I've been, and my all-time favorite spots!

June 18, 2011 "Turtle and the Wetlands--a short story"
A few weeks ago, the strangest thing happened to me...I met TWO turtles in ONE day. The first I noticed on a busy road while riding in my son, Ben's car. He was just sitting in the road, his little parts all pulled into his shell, frightened no doubt, by the traffic whizzing by all around him, and wondering how he'd wound up here. A short time later, I walked down and rescued him, putting him in a safe place far from the busy road. 
Later that same day, Ben flew into the house to say that he had run over a turtle while mowing the lawn! Another turtle! Upon investigation, we found that he was not injured, but was quite frightened. After consulting with a wildlife expert, Turtle's fate was decided. We would take him to a new home, out of suburbia where he wouldn't risk further contact with humans and their dangerous machines. And this is the story of how hearty little Turtle led us to a beautiful land preservation that Randy and I were both inspired enough to return to with our tools of the trade! 
Turtle in his new home. You can see his little face peeking out under the blade of grass.  Soon after I shot this picture, he dove into the murky waters and we bid him good luck! 

I knew of the wetlands in Beavercreek, Ohio, because I grew up very nearby, but it's just one of those things you take for granted. Returning a few evenings later, we ventured down the boardwalk into the heart of the wetlands to capture some beauty - Randy with his tripod & Holga camera, and I with my watercolor field box.

The Beavercreek Wetlands is located off of Fairgrounds Road. During the mid-eighties, area-wide construction of housing developments prompted wildlife groups to push for preservation of this ancient ecological wonderland. Around 1990, these efforts began to take shape as the Wetlands were mapped, with a meandering boardwalk and watchtower for wildlife enthusiasts. The 50 acre freshwater fen is thought to be related to the old Teays River system that existed prior to the glaciers. Today, you can walk the wooden planks and take in, on either side of you, the living water that supports hundreds of plants and a plethora of wetland wildlife and migratory species.

I'm looking forward to creating a new collage based on the beautiful wetlands area.

Turtle, I can see why you would be happy here!

Sunset across the tops of the trees surrounding the marshy wetlands created yet another inspiration for my camera to capture. I'll save the image and the inspiration for another day; another project! 

June 13, 2011
Revisited the Quarry once more to add some further details to the painting. This time the day was perfect--blue skies, low humidity and temperatures around 65. Couldn't have been nicer. Here is what you're missing if you haven't been there...

Nicole Chong took a break from her pastel drawing to shoot this cool "Hipster" print of my progress with her iphone!

Two painting friends also took advantage of the beautiful day at the quarry.

Esther Wilson (foreground)

Nicole Chong (background)

May 28, 2011 Oakes Park Quarry, Fairborn, Ohio
I ventured into this amazing quarry for the first time today. Since most of my plein Air treks take me into mountain forests, stream-side or at least under the canopy of trees, this was a definite departure. The vastness of the place alone is enough to put a person in a meditative state. To me, the quarry is a study in contradictions. Standing in the middle, there is a desolation that is both lonely and peaceful, and while the land is seemingly barren, devoid of life, soon it is apparent by nature's sounds, that the place is actually teeming with life. The historic relevance of the quarry is astounding, with evidence of glacial grooving from the Ice Age, as well as a vast collection of marine fossils from millions of years ago. In short, my visit was very memorable. 
...but back to the reason for my trip...
I painted for about 3 hours (as much as I could stand in the unfiltered sunlight--there is virtually no shelter in the quarry). I got a good beginning, and my painting should be on the "Fresh Art" page in the next few weeks. In the meantime, here a some pics and the scoop on the paint-time:

and Randy had some fun with his fish-eye lens! You can get a glimpse of the immensity of the quarry behind me...
Click here to see the finished product or read on, then go to the "Fresh Produce" Page


Topping my list of favorites is The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I feel most at home when I'm sitting on a rock in the middle of a great stream or perched on a mossy log in the mountain forest, balancing my palette on my knee. 
"Trickle Down"
...a rare watercolor of mine completed up a steep incline off the road to Elkmont.

A few times I've traded my nature trails for the city streets. Here are a few separate evenings I've painted "out" downtown Dayton as part of the First Friday art events. 
painting Dayton's landmark movie theatre, The Neon from the corner of 5th St and St. Clair

"Neon" 2009 acrylic on canvas 48x12"

 In June of 2010, in conjunction with the Dayton 
Visual Arts Center and the Downtown Dayton 
Partnership, I worked on location, leading a 
group of other painters to capture various 
urban scenes.  

I chose a favorite spot of mine in the Dayton theatre 
district. From my vantage point I could see the side 
of the historic "Victory" now "Victoria" theatre, as 
well as the beautiful Benjamin & Marion Schuster 
Center, with its glass facade, 
just down Main Street, now known as 
Avenue of the Arts.  Scroll down to see the 
finished painting.

"Avenue of the Arts" 2010
acrylic on canvas