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Art Show: Plein Air '06

July Day Long Beach, Tofino

by Rachel Cruse

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Art: July Day Long Beach, Tofino by Artist Rachel Cruse
I will never ever forget painting this one. It will go down in my artistic history as a 'plein air disaster extrordinaire'. A few hours drive from where I live is a place called Long beach. The waves are big, the water is cold, undertow is strong and people are few. The air is intoxicating, the magic is everywhere. One fine July day on a trip with my family I brought along my canvas, paints, brushes and a rickety old easel. I started to paint, after what I can only guess may have been two hours the tide started to come in, slowly at first, every 15 minutes I would pick up and move back another 10 ft the water lapping at my ankles. I don't claim to understand tides but before I was able to finish the intensity of the waves increased suddenly, the water coming in fast intent on claiming my canvas as its own. I had no choice but to grab my things fast and head to higher ground, the tide rising, I looked out to where I had begun my painting, now under at least 8 ft of water. My brother-in-law caught my retreat on camera. My painting was forever marked with splashes of saltwater and grains of sand, but I would not have it any other way. Back in my studio I let the paints dry. Still unfinished I found it hard to bring myself to complete it, not wanting to remove the grains of sand with a brushstroke, not sure I could ever finish it and stay true to the energy of that day at the beach. Several months passed before I finished and I'm not sure I did it justice. Perhaps it is because in my mind I still see those big waves crashing closer and closer to my wobbley easel... and yet the painting remains still? The perspective is a bit wonky because I moved so many times in my retreat of the tide, and the surface is of course flawed with the markings of saltwater and sand.

Detail Images

Detail Image for art July Day Long Beach, Tofino


Detail Image for art July Day Long Beach, Tofino

Suddenly the Waves

Detail Image for art July Day Long Beach, Tofino

An unsuccessful attempt at higher ground


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