August 16, 2015

To Drone or Not to Drone

River's Edge study (10x8 oil on panel)

An aspect of plein air painting that I truly enjoy is the unknown. I might think I am heading out for a day of painting but more times than not, it becomes a day of adventure.

It's been a long hot summer here (in Washington) and I was reflecting on cooler days of outdoor painting. A particular event from last February stood out as a fun thing to share.

Larry and I headed out to find "the" spot for the day and ended up about an hour from the house; in Burlington. Poor Larry, he has to drive around (and around) until I find "the" spot that feels right. I have an internal compass that tends to lead me toward the water. Today was no exception but the difference is that the water was just beyond my vision. I could feel it, and hear it; I just couldn't see it...

When Larry goes with me, I often go to more secluded places than I would when painting alone. In the summer this spot would be buzzing with the sound of children but, in February, it was devoid of people and it was cold! What it did offer was a lovely view of sun-stricken trees that lined the river beyond. And THAT is what made it "the" spot for the day.

I layered up until I felt like the Michelin Man. Larry help me set up my gear and then I succumbed to the silence and enjoyment of painting. Normally, I enjoy folks stopping by when I paint but this day felt different. I wanted to have full attention on my painting and it was cold so I was motivated to work diligently and without interruption. 

(Me as the Michelin Man)

Hours into the piece, and nearly finished, I heard an unfamiliar truck pull up behind our truck. Knowing Larry was there, I didn't look and I knew I could stay focused on my painting. I sensed someone behind me so I turned and a gentleman said "do you mind if I drone over you?" 

Um, I admit that, until that very day, I was not familiar with being droned. I kindly replied, "May you what?" (and I was wondering when my knight in shining armor would arrive). That thought produced my husband out of thin air. The two of them started chatting and Larry had all kinds of questions about the drone. Pat (the gentleman) was very gracious with his answers and then explained he would like to navigate his drone over me while I painted.

This is not the strangest of adventures so once I knew more about drones; I did not hesitate to say "sure!" Pat sent his drone over me and then posted it on his website where he has lots of wonderful videos and images.  These are the photos he posted of me painting: "River's Edge." 

I summed it up as another great adventure in the Pacific Northwest. I must say, it took me a while to defrost but I'm ready to head out again. This time I will need my sunscreen. 


  1. Well, that is a new one on me! Not surprised it would happen here in the PNW. Great post!

  2. Thanks for the nice comment, R.L.! yes, it was a bit strange :)