2 1/2 Hour Flight

Watercolor, 22 x 30 inches


Yesterday, a short break in the weather (between cold rain storms), prompted a friend and I to go paint en plein air.
We arrived on the site around 12:15 PM . . .a light breeze was blowing off the harbor water and sun was out. If you have ever been to a large harbor with both working boats and pleasure boats, it can be a confusing morass of stuff. So, we took our time wandering and looking for the best spot from which to paint.
Why, I do not know, but I decided to really challenge myself: Paint a full sheet: 22 x 30 inches in the short time we had set aside to paint . . . .I had be gone by 3PM. By the time we had finished surveying the harbor for an ideal view and painting site, it was near 1PM. Two Hours left and I had a full sheet to finish in that time!! This is crazy!!! Who can do thaaaaat?
I set up my easel and paints and began the scramble. Pencil in hand I chose two boats among the hoard of masts, tarps, wires, lines, docks, net hangers and paraphenalia. This was going to be a race! So . . . .I began to think: Begin with a middle gray and block in the shadows, forget accuracy and just reach for blobs of color and value. Just react. Don’t get to concerned with painting ‘stuff’. Just react . . .and do it fast.
The wind was blowing lightly, so my easel was in danger of being thrown into the water. I couldn’t leave it to consider my progress . . . .I had to be right on top of it in case it decided to behave like a falling tower and begin to fall toward the drink. Out came my two inch brush and I began slapping on wet paint . . .it ran, but I continued to “fly” unconcerned and just paint. To make matters worse, the paint in my palette was drying as fast as I would wet it. Mix a wash and get two strokes before it dried. (This was becoming nuts!)
I kept going. By then the wind was blowing. The board on which my paper was mounted was moving around like a flopping sail! I held it with one hand and painted with the other! It was 3PM. Thanks goodness, it was time to quit.
This was the result. I like the loose, direct quality of the piece, but it is by no means a strong painting: When you paint in the sun, the paint bakes and becomes a bit muddy. Oh well! What the hell. We got some sun, fresh air and different scenery out of the deal. In all, it was a great day. This painting will be a piece of scrap for some other purpose (but my wife actually likes it!). But you, Dear Reader, get to see that $%*&# happens! Us painters have to stick together knowing that our work doesn’t always score big . . .or score at all. Plein Aire distractions or not, that is just the way art is. Some days the results are good and some days they aren’t . . . especially when you are flying fast and loose.

9 thoughts on “2 1/2 Hour Flight”

  1. Well, I agree with your wife, it's a good painting and I like it! The only thing that may need a change-up is the similiarity of the greens in the background. Other than that, this one rocks and I loved hearing your trials while painting (better you than me 🙂

  2. It photographed nicely and looks good to me. Myrna is right, I'll take your "scrap heap" any day. I've been painting outside for the last two days and has similar problems. When the wind died down we were swarmed by love bugs; in the water, paint,and paintings. It was not a pretty sight.

  3. I really like this painting Mike. It is definitely not scrap! I wish my rejects were half this good.
    Reading about your plein air experiences reinforces why I am a studio painter. I am trying plein air again though this coming Thursday if it doesn't rain. Maybe it gets easier with practice although it's hard to imagine that I will ever like it better than being comfortable, near the kitchen and bathroom and not having people looking over my shoulder and I agonize about what they are thinking. We'll see….

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