“Painting the Region”: Day Two (Atlantic Beach)

"East Coast and 7th Street", by Robert Leedy, watercolor on Arches 140 lb. Cold Press paper, 16" x 22". Painting available for sale at The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach.

Another great day painting in North Florida!

“Painting the Region, an  annual plein air event with 40 + artists supporting the North Florida Land Trust and the Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach continues!

Before this week-long event began, I promised myself I would dutifully go out and scout potential locations. Well, I have to admit that task must have fallen into the pile with things like “alphabetizing my files in my filing cabinet”…

Tuesday morning found me running behind a bit and after checking in at Ponte Vedra and driving back to Atlantic Beach, I drove to Hannah Park to look for painting spots there. Nothing sparked my interest – and I must say that hanging in with a painting all day long requires a bit of passion that has to be there from the start. I drove back to Atlantic Beach and passed by a long list of potential painting locations. None spoke to me this morning. Then there was the run-in with a busy body woman who insisted I could not park where I did. I admitted to her that I did not see the no parking sign and I would move my car but she would not relent. These unfortunate  bad Karma situations pop up on occasion and when painting, you need to brush them off quickly…

I even called my friend Amy Roberts. Amy lives in the cool part of Neptune Beach where the street is the size of a tiny pathway. We ran down a list of “paintables” but nothing really grabbed me. Amy called me back to tell me that her office-full of Beach residents overheard our conversation and all had favorite suggestions to throw in. I drove by more of my personal potentials but nothing excited me.

As I drove around Atlantic Beach, the weather was behaving wonderfully. Then I saw the stark white roof that always catches my attention as I drive south on East Coast. This was my spot!

The ideal vantage point was from the sidewalk under the shade (thank you) next to Bull Memorial Park. It was just me and the AB Moms and their tricked out strollers talking about everything baby-related.

It was 11 am by the time I got started. Way too late! I rushed to get a drawing going and soon was deep into my painting.

The activity of painting – for me  – often involves an initial struggle and then I eventually settle into the painting and if I am lucky, it’s a Zen thing and I am really deep into a concentrated effort. This is what we artist strive for! Today was tough but I had a feeling things would get better.

I looked at my watch and was terrified at how fast time was passing – my painting needed to be ready – and framed – by 4 pm.

A lot of people drove by and stopped to say hello: some friends, some strangers.  Lou Rice wins the prize for Most Favorite as he brought me a sandwich for lunch (I never ate it but will do so tomorrow at lunchtime!) Lou has an innate ability to show up out of nowhere with food or coffee, a real artistic support, he is…

I struggled with my painting and at several points during the afternoon and realized my work would not make the 4 pm hanging at Ragtime Tavern seven blocks away. I persisted and eventually, things began to turn to my advantage. It was a classic fight with my work. I continued to push myself time-wise and nervously watched as the clock got closer to 4 pm.

This painting is all about watercolor to me: loose color with lots of preserved whites and painted in a fast, loose manner. I played complementary colors against one another and strove to create a vibration between lights and darks. This scene had appeared before me so many times and it was almost like I knew what to do before I did it…

The white roof catches my attention with its contrast with the dark foliage background. I also like the stop sign. It is quintessential Atlantic Beach. A neighborhood woman comes up to me in the park as I am framing the painting and says to me: “We moved here 20 years ago and I have always thought this is real Atlantic Beach. You have captured it well here.”

That was the best compliment I could ever receive.

I made the Happy Hour at Ragtime and was so happy to sip on a cold beer at the end of the day with my fellow plein air painters. The weather has been great and so far I have produced a good painting each day. I hope my luck continues…

Today we will be in Jacksonville Beach. I have no idea where I will end up. If you wish to come out and watch, go to The Artists’ Painting Locator or find me at Where is Robert Leedy Painting Today?

Happy Hour today will be at The Pier Restaurant in Jacksonville Beach from 4 pm – 7 pm. All paintings completed today will be on display at the restaurant and available for sale. And as the week progresses, the collection of paintings will be on display at The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach. Saturday evening will be the closing reception at the Cultural Center. Cocktails, appetizers, live music and great art! If you don’t have your tickets yet, call (904) 280-0614 or buy online.

I hope to see you out in the field or at the party!

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