Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Monet Meets Curly Joe

After reading Christine Kane's blog about expanding vs shrinking I shrugged off all shrinkiness (read stinginess) and purchased a really lovely plein air easel. Painting in the open air, away from the studio, sounds so romantic and, well, just plain fun. Turns out it was more like Claude Monet meets Curly Joe.

Becuase I am fairly new to painting away from the studio, I traveled only as far as my back yard.

It's a good place to start, actually. The sun on my black-eyed Susan's was really gorgeous. (That's my sister's really awesome chain-saw carving you see there in the background.)

There I stand, just like Claude Monet. The warm sun, cool shadows, brilliant yellows, purples, birds and cicadas breathing life into every stroke of my brush.

Things begin to go awry fairly quickly. Monet steps aside and Curly Joe moves in. Somehow I managed to flip my 5 x 7 board upside down, onto my fresh palette. The backside is now decorated in great gooey globs of cadmium orange and scarlet. Not to worry I tell myself, I'm outside. Wipe it off, put the board back and get back to work. I notice a bit of red paint on my brand spankin' new pochade box. The pochade box is supposed to carry the paint in it, not on it. Stop painting, wipe it off, gotta keep that new pochade box shiney and clean.

It's not long before I find I'm holding in my left hand a paper towel full of red paint, 4 brushes and a palette knife. Yes, my paint box came with a brush holder. It's just that my hand is so, well, handy. And yes, I have managed to get red paint on each and every brush. Oddly, the hair part is clean.

About that time a cute weiner dog strays into the yard to check out the Lady in Red. We introduce ourselves, and he leaves a moment later with a red stripe behind one ear.

An hour later, I've got red paint on my hands, brushes, pochade box, up my arm, on my shorts, the back door, my left sock, and on my right cheek. My hair is highlighted in - yup, you guessed it.

But I've also got 70 square inches of really lovely flowers painted, and I'm thrilled.

And now, as I'm typing, I see cad red scarlet on my keyboard. And up my arm again, and on my right knee. What would Monet think?

I'm thrilled. I survived my first real plein air session. I expanded my horizons, all the way to my back yard. Maybe tomorrow I'll expand them all the way to the end of the block.

How far will you expand your horizon? And what color will it be?


Preenie said...

Painting landscapes is my horizon expander! And color,hmmm? We'll see where it all goes. Had a good start for today :)
Your plein air paintings are simply beautiful!

Karine said...

Congrats on the new easel!! How exciting. Don't feel too bad about misplaced paint. My plein air painter friend on Maui used to have paint fingerprints and hand prints all over her car doors. (unintentional ones!) It made me laugh.

Lynne said...

That is a hilarious bit of writing about your first experience, my dear Pat. You have a great way with words and I think you should consider sharing with a wider audience in a book maybe? Illustrated in cadmium red of course.