Skip to content

Fringe Benefits

February 16, 2014

Maybe there’s something to this outdoor painting stuff after all.

. I’ve never really considered myself a plein air painter.  I start out with a pretty cool looking initial sketch, but then I seem to tighten up dramatically.  I’m very rarely satisfied with the end result.  I never use enough paint.  I worry about details.  The list goes on. My first – and only – organized paintout raised my stress level tremendously.  Okay, I’ve only participated in one, but it was enough to almost sour me on painting on location at all.  These folks are serious.  Some of them do large finished paintings in just a few hours.  They paint fast.  And at the end, the paintings are judged, and displayed for sale.  It’s easy to feel a bit inadequate. IMG_9773edited Interestingly, the one painting I currently have on display at the Rockport Center for the Arts is a plein air piece.  Never thought I’d put a plein air in a gallery, but it’s a painting I like.  That little 8×10 was done on the beach at Galveston, Texas while Nell was down at the water fishing.  No pressure.  No detail.  Just having fun.  Maybe the key for me is to make the painting secondary to just having fun.  And that brings me to yesterday’s adventure. IMG_0217edited It started out as a nice day to just go somewhere and sit and paint.  My expectations were not high.  I thought I’d just do some quick sketches at the Port Aransas Harbor.  Nell contented herself with sitting in the car out of the wind, reading and watching the activity by the harbor while I set my gear up near the docks.  The view of the sailboat above wanted to be sketched, so I sat down, prepared to keep it loose and simple. IMG_0215 I had barely gotten set up when I had visitors.  I carry a little photo album with images of my work, along with a few business cards.  I like for people to know that what they see on the easel isn’t what I normally do. IMG_0219 Others stopped as I started sketching. IMG_0222edited And others as well.  Another lady came up behind me, held up her camera and said she was an art teacher, and would love to have a photo of an artist painting on location to show to her students.  A firm believer in art education, I said yes.  And handed her a business card. IMG_0224edited Then Leon, the gentleman on the left, stopped to look and chat.  Before long, Mike (center) emerged from the boat I was painting.  As it turned out, these two men live aboard their boats fulltime and are neighbors.


Just across the dock from Mike’s 30 foot Catalina (the one I was painting) is Leon’s 30 foot Ericson (above).  I had photographed both boats a couple of days earlier when we were roaming around the harbor.  After a bit of fascinating banter between the two, part of it related to something about another boater considering a trip to Greece, Leon invited Nell and I to come aboard for a glass of wine.

We were given a tour below, and as you might imagine, the interior is very similar to an RV.  In fact, a lot of nautical terminology is used in the RV world, such as references to landlines and the galley.  It’s obvious that RV design originated from boats such as these.  There is a large master bunk in the bow, a head (bathroom) and a closet, a galley (kitchen) along one side and dinette/lounging space on the other side.  There are two additional sleeping spaces below the outdoor seats.

The slip rental, which includes water, is about the same as a reasonably priced RV site.  Electric costs sound like they’re about the same.  The harbor charges an additional fee for live-aboards. The costs  appear to be very similar to living fulltime in an RV.  The variable, of course, is the price of the boat or the RV.


Our host poured the wine and we made ourselves comfortable in the stern seating area.  The earlier breeze had died down a bit, and with the canopy overhead to protect from the sun, we enjoyed some great conversation, learning more about the live-aboard life.  Being surrounded by water, even sitting dockside, with the occasional sounds of sea birds, and the slight movement of the boat, felt pretty darned relaxing.  And being invited by a total stranger to sit for a while and enjoy it was pretty cool.


Yep, there just might be something to this outdoor painting business after all, whether the painting itself gets finished or not.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 18, 2014 11:38 am

    A great way to make friends Ralph.

  2. February 20, 2014 3:56 pm

    That’s a pretty nifty story. You’re pretty good at painting boats, so I hope you sell some paintings while there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: