Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Summer Solstice Plein Air Painting in Juneau Alaska

As a painter in Southeast Alaska, Summer Solstice is bitter sweet.  This is the peak of  best of the best weather in Juneau.  May and June are the statistically the months with the most rain free days.

Devita Writer out painting near summer solsticeBut solstice is always bitter sweet for me as an artist and outdoor painter, because it also means the days are beginning to get short again and barely a month from now it is not unlikely that the rains will return.  August especially will often mark the return of the fall pattern of rainy inclement weather.

Day length makes for an interesting painterly schedule. Mid summer in Juneau sunrise is just short of 4 A.M, and the sun sets a little after 10 P.M..  If you like to paint sunsets, as I do, this makes for painting late into the evening. 

This photo was taken about 8:30 P.M. a few days before Solstice and although the shadows are long, sunset colors have yet to make an appearance.

My painting schedule would typically be to have a leisurely dinner, and head for the selected painting location.  A good thing about Juneau is that "the good painting spot" is seldom more than a half hour away.

I have already selected the spot because I have been thinking about it for days or weeks, sometimes years.  Usually I will try to drive by the location within the last week or two to refresh my memory.

As any oil painter, I have many tubes of oil paint accumulated over the years, but in my field paint box I carry a limited and well organized number of colors.  I use pure oil colors of the best quality. Part of the preparation is to mix my colors, this takes quite a while and is always done after I have my easel set up at the spot.

My easel, my paints, mosquito repellant, drinking water, small folding canvass table, brushes, jars all fit in a large plastic tote. I also carry a folding chair.  This will all fit in a plastic cart so that I can haul my paints down to the beach, sometimes several hundred yards.