Beavertail Plein Air Painting
12″ x 16“, Oil on Canvas, 2015
Beavertail State Park, Jamestown, Rhode Island
by Charles C. Clear III
Beavertail State Park in Jamestown occupies the southern tip of Conanicut Island. The rocky shoreline offers gorgeous views of Narragansett Bay, with Narragansett to the west and Newport to the east. There is so much beauty everywhere that it’s difficult to choose which scene to paint. As with most plein air paintings, the environment will often help you decide. Where is the light? How strong is the wind? Is the tide rising? Are the waves that are smashing against the rocks sending ocean spray in my direction?
For this painting, I set up my easel facing north on a high flat ledge. I wasn’t picky about the subject matter – I just wanted to start painting and do a quick seascape study. In view was a colorful rocky outcropping on the east coast of Jamestown. Newport is in the distance. The summer sky was a milky blue pastel that settled over the green brush that covered the hillside. The rocks along the shore were a symphony of colors ranging from hot yellows and golds to cool blues and purples. The Bay was a beautiful vivid blue.
I started with brushwork on the background and made my way down to the middle. My strokes were big and quick. I wasn’t concerned about blending anything – I wanted the colors to speak for themselves. I used my palette knife in several areas to enhance colors and emphasize the direction of an object. As I made my way down to the rocks in the foreground, I used my palette knife more and more. At the bottom, you can see that the rocky ledge is all knife work, with scratchy umbers, siennas, and violets.
Charles C. Clear III