This past weekend, Rachel took the girls to Pennsylvania to see their cousins, and I got a weekend to myself. Alone time is medicine to me.

I decided to take advantage of the alone time, and tossed my easel, my inflateable kayak, a tent, a fishing pole, a blanket, a pillow, some left overs, and my dog into the car and drove out toward Beaver Creek State Park near Lisbon, Ohio.

On the way, I saw a parking lot next to a small lake, so I stopped, blew up the boat, and loaded it up.

Lego and I paddled our to a spot in the shade because it was pretty hot, and I stopped to see if I could paint in the boat. As it turned out – it wasn’t that hard. Next time, I’ll bring my easel OR my tackle box and fishing rod. Having all of that in the boat with me and Lego ended up being a bit tight, but it worked.

She’s a good dog.

Unfortunately, the paintings were rubbish. But, it was fun to paint in a boat. And, nobody came up to me and said, “You paintin’?” Apparently this is what you are supposed to say in Ohio when you see someone painting. I’m thinking of some clever responses I can toss out, but haven’t thought of any yet, so I resort to: “Only one way to get better.”

After failing miserably to paint those beautiful lily pads, I paddled around and fished a bit. Nothing was biting, so I gave up and drove to the park.

I got to the camp site around 8:00, and set up camp. They do an “on your honor” thing there, so I filled out the paper, set up my tent, burned some sticks, and ate some hummus and cold leftover pork loin. (Which was surprisingly delicious.)

In the morning, I woke up and drove to the Pioneer Village where an old grist mill still stands. I couldn’t find a spot that seemed interesting and out of the way, so I drove down a gravel road that stopped at some recycling dumpsters. There, I saw a bench, and a picnic table next to the river, so I set up on the picnic table and painted the bench.

It was a very peaceful morning. A few kayakers came through, and I thought about trying to add them in, but i I was worried I would mess up on the perspective so I left them out.

I started with a sketch. I tried really hard to start with the big shapes, and move to small shapes – it’s amazing how quickly I get all whiskers and no cat. I look down and realize I’m drawing every branch and leaf before I’ve even finished the horizon line.

After sketching, I painted the sky and distant trees. I really wanted to try to follow the bead, and I did – at first. I painted the sky with T4b Ultramarine Blue V-shaped wedge between the trees on either bank and dropped in some Naples Yellow to get a blue-green blur at the horizon. Then I let it dry for a minute or two while I mixed a puddle of Prussian Blue and Naples Yellow with a dab of Raw Umber to get a grayish green. I painted this with a T3d into the sky and down both sides. Then, I painted some glistening water with very quick light strokes of a R2b Raw Umber. The creek was very brown that day from past rain, so I tried to honor the color, even though it wasn’t a terribly pretty hue.

Then, I painted some Naples Yellow and Prussian Blue to create the grass, being careful to avoid the bench. When that was still wet, I added some tiny splashed of yellow ochre, a few slashes of Naples Yellow, and let it dry until it was damp.

Then, I smooshed the tip of my mop brush into a ragged shape, and dipped it (while ragged) into Serpentine Green, which happened to be sitting next to UM Blue. By rotating the brush as I dabbed it into the Serpentine, I got some Serpentine on parts, and UM Blue on other parts. I then tapped this onto the painting at the bottom, and in some of the places that needed darker values. Then, I splashed some clean water on it and called it done.

Once that was all dry, I painted the bench with Raw Umber, skipping on the top just like I had in the water. I used more pigment and less water to paint the darker values, and added a smidge of Indanthrone Blue for the really dark values. Then, I didn’t like the color of the creek, so I dabbed in some blue-grey… some blue… some green… ahhhhh crap. Overworked it.

Oh well.

When it was done, I walked it up to the park office (which had opened by then) and gave it to the lady at the counter. I’m always surprised by the fact that people are so appreciative when I do that – and that they almost never ask my name. I almost never offer it – so maybe that’s why.

Then, my buddies showed up, and we went fishing and hiking for the rest of the day. I caught two of the smallest bass I’ve ever caught – and that’s all.

I should also mention – at Lutz Lock (I think that’s what it was called) there are some old stone-walled locks from the 1800s that are grown over and mossy – it feels very much like you just stumbled on ancient ruins. These things are amazing, but my phone died before I could take any pictures. I tried to sketch it – but… nah.

Then, today I tried again to paint the picture of Babs, Branden, Sean and I carrying the boats to the L-Lake. Again, I wasn’t happy with it. Too many whiskers – not enough cat.