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October 23, 2013 / pleinairman

St Augustine, Florida, Plein Air Sketch to Studio Workshop Report

Vilano Beach’s Bluebird of Happiness

My last teaching stop on the way to Arizona was in historic St Augustine, Florida, for the First Coast Pastel Society.   Florida weather can be iffy this time of year, but we were fortunate in having the seventh quietest hurricane season in 70 years, according to NOAA.  Still, we had unsettled weather, which manifested itself as surprisingly torrential rain during the first two mornings.   Despite that, everyone kept smiles on their faces and trooped right along admirably.

“Break in the Weather” 12×9 pastel

On the first day, I lectured inside a covered pavilion at the Mission of Nombre de Dios while rain poured down outside.  From the pavilion, I had a good view of a statue of St Francis with the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche in the background and made that my subject for a demonstration.  Miraculously, before I’d taken the sketch irretrievably down a grey and gloomy road, the clouds broke, and I was able to take it to a sunnier place.  Students were then able to get out and gather reference material without fear of rain.  Afterward, we all returned to our studio for lunch and an afternoon of creating finished paintings.  That evening, my lodging host and workshop coordiantor (IAPS Master Circle member, Lyn Asselta) had students over for lasagna.

Escaping the Rain

The second day, we headed out to Vilano Beach, which is a bit of old Florida.  Complete with funky old hotels painted pink and turquoise plus the famed “Bluebird of Happiness,” it was a great place for painting structures.  But about 30 minutes after we set up our easels to collect reference material, the rain began to pour down, and we all retreated to a large pavilion that provided some good views.  Just before we had to pack up to head for the studio, the sun came out again.  Everyone stayed in good spirits, though, and after lunch we were ready to pursue our projects.  I lectured on notan and design to get us started.

How to Secure Your Pastel Box when the Walkway is Too Narrow for a Tripod

On our third day, we went out to one of St Augustine’s city beach parks where we had a nice walkway that went through some woods, over a marsh and dunes and out to the beach.   The grasses presented some beautiful pink hues against the green of seagrape and other vegetation.  For this final day, the weather could not have been more perfect, so we spent all morning and even part of the afternoon gathering reference material before finally heading back to the studio.  It’s always nice to end the workshop on such a positive note!

“Behind the Dunes,” 6×9 pastel color study

I want to thank Lyn and all the others for making this workshop such a wonderful one.  St Augustine has much to offer the painter, and I appreciate Lyn’s efforts as a location scout.

Now we start our final push for Arizona.

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