Hiking along the James River (and painting there too!)

Happy first day of Spring, everybody! I'll celebrate by posting my latest plein air painting done earlier this week while walking the trails of the James River's North Bank Park.

  "Downstream" Oil on Linen, 12x12"   ©Jennifer Young

"Downstream" Oil on Linen, 12x12"  ©Jennifer Young

Funny thing about this excursion- I had gone out the week prior on an initial exploration, but it turned out to be a bust. The weather forecast had called for warmer temperatures, but had really gotten the projected temperatures wrong. Unfortunately, I also had gotten my wardrobe wrong! I've written before about my difficulty with plein air painting in the cold. This particular morning wasn't an icy cold but it was that damp, penetrating cold that just chills to the bone.

So even though I'd found a great spot on "Texas Beach" right the river's edge, I was so uncomfortable that I had to jump ship that morning. Big bummer, because I have only just begun to discover this beautiful part of the river, and I was excited to have found such a great spot that was easily accessible with a few rock-hops, even with all my gear on my back. As it was, I packed up after only about an hour, not having made much progress beyond some murky marks. I probably should have just saved my panel and wiped the whole thing down at that point, but I thought, well, maybe I can just come back later and finish what I've started.

It rained nonstop over the weekend, so I couldn't get back out there until this week. The good thing was, I knew exactly where I wanted to go. I also had a basic composition under way, so I was ahead of the game. Or so I thought.

Being the seasoned outdoor adventurer that I am, it hadn't even occurred to me that the trails would be a little muddy. Maneuvering them with about 15 lbs of art gear on my back was....interesting. And graceful. ;-) The other thing I hadn't accounted for is that the rocks that I'd so easily hopped to get out to my awesome view were now completely under water. In fact, the terrain had so changed that I couldn't recognize one familiar thing. So after sliding around looking for "my spot" for a while (and coming face to face with a huge, magnificent heron along the way) I finally gave up and settled on another view.  It's probably just as well. I liked this painting spot even better than the last.