“Study for Beach & 7th Street”

Friday morning found me early at 11th Street in Atlantic Beach taking more photos for HDR images. Some of these may find their way into paintings, that remains to be seen. I have been very lucky with the weather. Part of the reason for getting up so early is to have that incredible morning light seep into these images. Another bonus was that the surf was still holding up and I was able to take a few surfing shots.

I took a coffee break mid-morning and went looking for a new access. A yellow, diamond-shaped warning sign, a nice palm-silhouetted scene, and a kid carrying his surfboard while skateboarding caught my attention at the 7th Street access. Though only 10 a.m., the heat was intense. I found a nice shady spot and set up my plein air painting gear and began work in a sketchbook of Arches watercolor paper.

“Study for Beach & 7th”,
by Robert Leedy,
watercolor on Arches Cold Press paper,
6.75″ x 11″

It was an interesting morning:  I had a lot of curious people stop to talk. But probably what set the tone was when a guy running past commented with a big smile, “What a great day for that!” Yes, he was absolutely right and I was well on my way.  The painting I worked on was small and in a sketchbook but it kept me busy for quite a while. Some people have the misconception that the smaller the painting, the less time it takes to finish. Not always the case. Sometimes, large paintings are faster than expected while little ones can often take a lot longer than imagined to finish…

While waiting for washes to dry, I took photos of people walking by. I asked permission for most of them and was really floored by how much total strangers were perfectly willing to oblige my photographic directions. There is a suggested figure in the painting above – I think it was a woman walking her dog. But I need figures for some of the beach access paintings and with my idle time between washes and the continual flow of pedestrian traffic, I was able to capture walkers, runners, a couple with three Jack Russell Terriers, and a gaggle of surfers – one carrying his board on a skateboard (the original draw), several carrying boards on bicycles, and many on foot. Then there was a very cute seventeen-year-old surfer girl in a lime green bikini carrying her lime green surfboard. No, I didn’t go there. Didn’t want the Atlantic Beach police questioning me. “So, Mr. Lapage, why are you out here taking photos of young girls…?”

As I mentioned, everyone was very cooperative. I always explained why I was taking the photos and people genuinely wanted to oblige. One surfer on his bike suggested we do multiple takes: he rode back down to the beach carrying his board – and back – probably six times. I got a bunch of shots. I even captured the quintessential  ABM (that would be what I call an Atlantic Beach Mom – those young mothers in running attire pushing seriously tricked out baby strollers all the while giving the evil look  to anyone who has the guts to drive above the posted Atlantic Beach speed limit of 25 mph.) When I asked her permission to take a photo, she thought for a moment then said, “Sure, as long as they don’t end up on the Internet…”

So, the 7th Street session produced the nice little painting above and an 8 GB digital flash card full of figures. No, I didn’t fill the card up in the least…

What I call a good morning, for sure.

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