Cool Reflections, 20 x 24"

Painting Wintertime on the Chattahoochee River

I’ve lived here in Marietta for nearly twenty years now. It’s actually my second tour of duty here in Georgia, so almost thirty years in this lovely warm spot. Over the years it’s grown more hectic and crazy on the roads, thank God I have avoided most of this by working out of my house for the last fifteen years. When I started painting Plein air in earnest five years back I knew it would take a lot of work—a lot of brush in the bush time to get to the point I could call myself a professional. This certainly has been the case, with some bravery and ingenuity I might have sped up the process by several decades! There are many young men and women who have taken on the challenge to be professional painters along with raising a family and made it work—I salute them. To those considering it—it’s all a matter of what you expect of yourself. Work hard, have a plan and I believe you can do it. It will take a while but you will learn the things you must do and you will be happier and more successful in the long run.

Reflections on the Flats, 9x12
Reflections on the Flats, 9×12

Back to painting. You can go back many posts and see that I’ve pretty much figured out the places I’m most comfortable painting in this area. It’s a process of exploration and experience. I want to get painting as soon as possible —I want to be productive, so I look for places with nature and someplace to park. The Chattahoochee near Roswell is great this time of the year-long views and plenty of atmospheres. And it just got considerably better. This last week they opened a mile-long stretch of boardwalk that not only parallels the river but at one point cuts across through the flats area between Azalea Drive and Willeo Rd. I’ve heard that this cost well over a million dollars —money well spent! They did a wonderful job and with the way they build decks now —not with much wood, it ought to last a good long time. The only problem is parking, you must either park at the Nature Center or at the parking lot on Azalea Drive both of which are not great. The Nature Center is not open all the time and the Azalea Drive parking lot is about a half-mile from the boardwalk and is full most of the time. You can sneak into the St. Francis School parking lot at the corner but it’s also more than a half-mile away from the entrance.

Boardwalk Map

Complain, complain! Really nothing to complain about. It’s glorious and has a view of the river on one side and the flats on the other. Hundreds of paintings here but not easy ones! The brush is dense even in the winter and you will have to edit a lot—again, nothing to complain about. For the next several months I will be spending lots of time there—you are welcome to join me. Not knowing of the opening I started a few weekends ago at the fishing park further up Willleo Rd., this is a spot I’ve painted many times before. A great place to catch the sunrise over the ridge and reflection off the river. I was up early and set up near 8 AM on the hill behind the parking lot with a view across. The water level is way down so there was a very interesting shape to the mudflats as it winds out to the river. I wanted to catch that early light and color, but I also had in mind a big 18 x24″ for this view. I thought it might be a good idea to do a quick 9 x12″ first and then take my time on the larger one using the small one for color reference. So this first one is the 9 x12″ that I did Sunday morning 12/11.

Chattahoochee Sunrise, 9x12
Chattahoochee Sunrise, 9×12
December Sunrise, 18x24
December Sunrise, 18×24

The next is the 18 x24 that I worked on later and finished up the next weekend. I was not happy with all the excess Dioxide Purple. This a color that I tend to overdue when I have it on my palette. I should just eliminate it but I am always mixing purples and it just saves so much time! I also use Naples Yellow a bit too much—again, It’s just too easy to overuse that lovely cool yellow and both are hard to disguise.

Chattahoochee Impressions, 18x24
Chattahoochee Impressions, 18×24

I’ve had some success working bigger lately. I like 18 x24 inches when I have everything thought out and the time. Sometimes they don’t even take any longer as with this view from Willeo Road looking North-East. I also used a branch hanging down in front to give me something in the foreground—it seems to work in this one. This was painted before we lost the leaves and is a great illustration of why this area is great to paint. You have some distance that you can work with—gradually blueing things as they go back.

Sunset at Riverbend, 9x12
Sunset at Riverbend, 9×12
Winter on the River, 8 x16"
Winter on the River, 8 x16″

This group of smaller paintings the first a 9×12 painted along the main stretch of the boardwalk near the Willeo Rd. (top of page) the other around sunset looking southwest in early December and the third an 8 x16″ painted soon afterward. The last two were painted perhaps only fifty feet apart—This shows you the diversity of views available here. I like the winter color in the 8 x16, and this view lent itself to the panoramic crop.

This last weekend was Christmas but I got a few good days in before and the weather was unseasonably warm. On the 22nd I got over a bit late in the afternoon to the boardwalk. I set up right at the elbow that start’s the walks section out over the flats. This crosses over a meandering swap like area with treeline and the river behind it. I did a 12 x12 that day looking straight into the setting sun. I was pleased with it but I saw a potential for a bigger painting and the next day I brought over a 20 x 24″ that I had—with a nice pale red ground. I got in place around noon and worked until almost five—or sundown, this time of the year. The last hour was spectacular!

Cool Reflections, 20 x 24"
Cool Reflections, 20 x 24″

My plans are to do some closer in views next working with the brush and the muted winter colors.

UPDATE 1/4/17

Light on the Flats, 9 x12"
Light on the Flats, 9 x12″

A few more from the river last week. I met Allison Graham Doke, Shane McDonald, and Anna Jones Ladefoged. for a session on Friday. It was cold but bright and everyone enjoyed themselves. I did a small bright 9 x12 first then set in on a 12 x16″ as the day progressed. Everyone else had things to do but I hung in and proceeded to frustrate myself a bit on this view of the marsh through a tree screen. It got a bit muddy and messy so I scraped most of it off and went back over the next day to finish it. A totally different experience on Saturday with no bright sun at all—again I worked hard to repaint and came up with this. Might still require a bit of work!

Gray Day Geese, 12x16
Gray Day Geese, 12×16

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