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Landscape Oil Painting Outdoors/Landscape Painting Plein Air

Is it called a “Bell Buoy?”

Old Bell Buoy, Oil on panel, 12x9" (click image to enlarge)
Old Bell Buoy, Oil on panel, 12x9" (click image to enlarge)

If this is a “Bell buoy” I wonder if there is any connection to “Bell Boys”–did the latter get named for the former? (A beacon of light with a bell to warn you of dangers?–probably not). At any rate, this is a buoy and it has a bell, so I suppose the answer is yes, but somehow it just sounds funny to me… I keep picturing hotel bell boys weaing red hats with a bell mounted on top.

I didn’t paint this aboard a boat in the middle of a foggy sea. This huge old buoy (about 20 feet tall) is actually parked in front of Quinn’s Lighthouse in Embarcadero Cove near Jack London Square in Oakland but when I started painting it was so foggy we could have been at sea.

I arrived at 10:00 a.m. and there were so many interesting subjects (Victorian buildings, gazebos, gardens, boats, Quinns) that I wandered for nearly an hour, trying to choose. I finally picked this and got to work with only two hours to make the painting before our 1:00 group critique.

I nearly finished the painting in the two hours, with just a few details to touch up once I got home. Someday I will learn to leave a plein air painting alone! I started touching up a little here and there and before I knew it, I’d mucked things up. Then I  spent the next several hours unsuccessfully trying to get back to what I had originally, which I’d really liked.

Plein air finish before studio "touch up"
Plein air finish before studio "touch up"

Despite my efforts, I couldn’t quite get there.  I lost some of the darks, fresh bright lights and interesting color variations I had. Maybe when it’s dry I can do a little glazing and solve those problems, but without being there and painting from life, it’s just not the same, even with a good memory (which I don’t have) and a photo (which I do, below).

Photo of the buoy
Photo of the buoy

5 replies on “Is it called a “Bell Buoy?””

It’s not quite anatomically correct which may account for some of the unease. Your plein foggy air is very nice so I think your light hand is the dependable one.

I think bell buoys came before bell boys, but from “The Language of Sailing”; ‘boia’, a halter, because the buoy was something tethered.

Here, in Puget Sound, we had sounding buoys until around 2000 and I miss the particular voice of the the one at the end of my road.

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Jana, funny you should leave a comment on my blog…I just subscribed here the other day! You were listed on so many blogs that I read, I had to come find what the fuss is about. 😀

Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I do hope that I can learn as you have, your oil paintings are wonderful.

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