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Plein Air on the World’s Most Beautiful Beach

Dr. Steven Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, rates the best beaches in the world every year, using 50 criteria. Grayton Beach, Florida, has been Number One at least once and in the top ten several times. That would be no surprise to anyone who has seen this beach. The reflective white quartz sand consists of small grains with a texture as smooth as sugar, so fine that it crunches and squeaks underfoot like very cold snow. Under the blue sea of the Gulf of Mexico, the white sand bottom reflects turquoise, punctuated by an emerald streak where the sand bar offshore rises to within 10′ of the surface. On days like last Wednesday, you would never know that those same waters could house the fury of a hurricane, like the one last month that destroyed most of Panama City, Mexico Beach, and Port St. Joe, the destruction starting a mere 20 miles east of Grayton Beach.

The State of Florida has named its various coasts, and ours is named the Emerald Coast, for that beautiful green streak over the sand bar. On Wednesday of this week, our local plein air group, the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters, painted at Grayton Beach State Park. The temperature was chilly, but the biting wind was from the north, so we were somewhat sheltered on the water-side of the dunes. Our paintings are all posted on our Facebook Page.

Oil painting studying the colors of the Gulf of Mexico on the Emerald Coast, Grayton Beach, FL
Impossible Blue

I purchased an iPhone app called Art Rooms, which places art on the walls of the room you choose out of their stock, appropriate to the size of the painting relative to the size of the furniture. I like this app. I did have to use Photoshop to place my painting behind the lamp in the second example.

Art Rooms app showing “Impossible Blue” over a desk

Art Rooms app showing “Impossible Blue” over a bedside table

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Just Plein Fun and Other Autumn Adventures

This post will have to be more pictures than writing — everything has been moving so fast I haven’t taken enough time to reflect on it all!

First, of course, the effects of Hurricane Michael are still heavy upon my neighboring communities, along the coastal towns from Panama City to St. George Island and further, and all points north of there. The fundraiser started by Larry Moore and managed by Denise Rose and team, “Operation Fundstorm”, begun with the hope of raising a mere $10,000, actually raised over $117,000! More than 200 artists donated paintings which then were auctioned online over the course of one week, with 100% of the proceeds going to provide hurricane relief on the Forgotten Coast. I am thrilled to have been a contributing artist, with “Seeing the Light”, at left.

Oil painting of a goat on top of the climbing stack of pallets and shed at Sweet Creek Farm Market
King of Sweet Creek, 3rd Place at Pike Road Paint-Out

The last week of October I drove up to Blue Ridge, Georgia, to pick up my paintings and those of two fellow local participants in the Blue Ridge Mountains Plein air Paint-Out, which gave me time to visit with several dear friends in Murphy, NC. On my way back, I stopped near Montgomery, AL, for the “Just Plein Fun: Pike Road Paint-Out” where I painted with the Alabama Plein Air Artists. I enjoyed meeting so many artists, and the organizers, Patti and Richard Payne, and hope to participate in that event again! I was honored to receive 3rd place with my painting “King of Sweet Creek”, a painting of a stack of pallets and a shelter, its rooftop commanded by a goat the whole time I was painting. Thee weather was chilly and drizzly that first day, without spectacular light, so I opted to paint story instead.

The first week of November, I hung 20 of my paintings at Artful Things in Niceville, FL, where they will be exhibited through December 2018. That same week I also was juried into the Foster Gallery at the Ruskin Place Artist Colony, in Seaside, FL. I have 14 works showing there, through the first week of February. The Foster at Ruskin is the second branch of the Foster Gallery, an artist collective organized by the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County. Upcoming dates are:

Friday, December 7th, The Foster Gallery at Ruskin Place Artist Colony, 201 Ruskin Pl., Seaside, FL 32459, 1st Friday Art Walk, 5pm – 8pm.

Thursday, December 13th, The Foster Gallery at Ruskin Place Artist Colony, 201 Ruskin Pl., Seaside, FL 32459, Opening Reception, 5pm – 7pm.

Saturday, December 1st, Artful Things, 1087 John Sims Pkwy E, Niceville, FL 32578, Open House , 11am – 4pm.

And finally, I have been invited to again serve as a Florida’s Finest en Plein Air Ambassador for the Forgotten Coast en Plein Air which is based in Port St. Joe. Florida’s Finest Ambassadors teach 15 2-hour one-on-one instructional sessions to people who are new to plein air painting. Those 15 sessions are offered over 5 days, 3 per day. I served as an Ambassador in 2016, so I know the drill — it’s a fairly grueling schedule. Normally 6 artists from across the state are selected to be Ambassadors. Since the area just suffered a hurricane, the event may be scaled back a bit, but I know there will be at least three Ambassadors this year.

My weekly Wednesday painting sessions with my local group have yielded a number of studies over the summer, pictured below.

Oil p[ainting of a hive at Muscogee Farms in Bruce, FL
Hive at Muscogee Farms, plein air
Oil painting of the tables area at Elmore's Landing, with girl reading a book
Summer Light at Elmore’s, plein air
Oil painting of Joe Elmore's Bison sculpture, in a plein air composite including multiple facets of Elmore's Landing
Joe Elmore’s Bison, plein air
Mexico Beach, plein air (before Hurricane Michael)
Oil painting of the shoreline and harbor at Ft. Walton Yacht Club, with small sailboats beached and fishing boats docked
Play Day at the Club, plein air
Oil painting of backyard scene with red chairs and red umbrella
Becky’s Quiet, plein air
Oil painting showing the tannin-rich waters of Turley Creek, Niceville, FL
Turkey Creek, plein air
Oil painting of the bright light on the neighbor's lawn across Mallet Bayou, painted from Brenda's dock
Neighbors Across Mallet Bayou, plein air
Wood Spirits at Elmore’s Landing, plein air
Oil painting of the dunes at Henderson Beach State Park, Destin, FL, painted en plein air.
Butterfly Dune, plein air
Oil painting of the dune scrub at Veteran's park on Okaloosa Island, Ft. Walton Beach, FL
Pyrocantha and Goldenrod, plein air
Oil painting of a rocky stream in the mountains, under waning light
Mountain Memories, a workshop piece painted from childhood memories