Plein Air at the river Elbe


Last week I took the chance to paint on a new spot at the river Elbe at a small town called Stade. The river opens up to a really beautiful view, probably one of the nicest spots the river has to offer.

This time I wanted to concentrate on the clouds which were fast moving across the sky. Always a challenge. It’s important to decide for one composition at a very early stage and not always changing your mind. Easy to say hard to do. Especially on a kind of hazy day when the contour of the clouds seemed somehow missing.


View to Bishortser Sand, oil sketch, 20×30cm,
© 2015, Astrid Volquardsen


In the beginning it was, again, just a blue sky and a cold wind from the east. There wasn’t much possibility to took shelter so I stayed next to a building belonging to a restaurant. After I had finished my first oil sketch and went to the sun to warm up I heard a voice:

« Little lady, would you like to have a cup of coffee?« Bernd from the ship reporting service inside the cafe used softly his loudspeaker and asked me to come inside. What a nice chap.

Afterwards I went for a second sketch and I was approached by an elderly man, the former harbour master of Stader Sand. During our conversation he told my about the old times and the storm flood of 1976. The north sea is not far away and the river and its back country are protected by dikes. 1976 turned out to be a pretty bad one and he told me he was sitting in his office, watching the water on top of the dikes.

Suddenly the level of the water fell dramatically and later he found out that some dikes were broken. 3 major openings and 20 minor ones were responsible for the flooding of the Stader backland.

I love these talks with people from the area, lived history so to say which brings a connection to the land and its people. I will always remember these two chaps when I will look at this sketch and I am deeply grateful for that.


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