Saturday, July 2, 2016

It's Just the Idea

Like so very many things, I love the idea of activities more than the actual doing of them.  Plein air painting, for instance.

A year or so ago I took an outdoor painting class. We students anticipated receiving the holy grail of plein air painting; the magic that transforms simple rolling hills into slashes of paint strokes in brilliant hues balanced against the subtleties of color found only while standing in high grass early in the day. Our instructor made it all sound so worthy. So very artistic.

Getting comfy, in a nest of chiggers.
 We met early, 7 am, ready to paint. No sun came creeping over the horizon to light the hills and lift autumn shadows from their moorings. In place of the anticipated fiery ball of orange and pink, heavy grey clouds full of drizzle wrapped themselves around us. And then the wind picked up. And because we all paid for the privilege, and by golly we were plein air artists, we began painting.

On a high hill, the calm before the storm.
The game of “IF” began. If the sun were to break through, said our instructor, it would look like this. And if the sky were blue, it would be this color. And if there were cattle on yonder hill, they would stand like so.

And if there were a coffee pot nearby it would smell and taste like heaven. And if we'd had any sense we'd have retired indoors and painted from sketches or memory. As it is all I accomplished that morning was to lose 2 good brushes when I got tangled in wet grass on  my way to a higher, dryer spot.

And yet the allure of out door painting is strong. Just a few days ago I was so taken by the lovely colors and textures in my garden I gathered my gear and hauled it all into the yard. In the few moments it took me to set up the temperature had risen 15 degrees and a swarm of no-see-ums had claimed my space. Handsome Husband came home for lunch and wondered aloud about my sanity.

Ain’t it grand to paint outdoors? 

I’m not always very smart, but I’m also not stoopid.  If I am to stand on a hill under heavy skies in a stiff wind pretending the sky is blue, then I can certainly stand in my studio pretending the air from a fan is a breeze wafting over me. My spotlights are a fine replacement for the sun's warmth. The average temp in my studio is 75 degrees. I can see my garden from the window.

I like the idea of that.


Hedda said...

This is a delightful article, Patty! You are an inspiration, as always. Outdoor painting is wonderful, and part of its splendor is a certain amount of discomfort, for sure. But our studios rock, and I have a better place now! Thank you for the great times and learning when you taught your workshop here in Valentine. Cheers!

Patty said...

Hedda, so good to hear from you! So glad to know you've got a comfortable place to create, I look forward to seeing what comes from that. Working with you and the Valentine crew is always inspiring.