“No Wind Today”
Watercolor 15 x 22 inches
en Plein Aire
A long time ago, my Mom made special awareness to all of us five kids at meal time: You will eat what is served to you!” “I am not cooking different meals for everyone who wants some thing more special than everyone else at the table. Learn to enjoy that which is before you!
And so it is with painting en Plein Aire. In artistic parlance, paint what is in front of us! That does not mean that we cannot or should not add our own “style” or embellishments. In fact, it shouldn’t mean that we don’t convert the image in front of us to our personal tastes . . . .abstract or realistic.
Plein Air painting offers tuff cirumstances in which to paint. Wind. Cold. Heat. Sun. Bugs. Distracting People. Inadequate equipment. Difficult places to sit / stand. Wildlife (skunks!). Angry dogs. Bothersome people. People who have never painted a lick . . . .some who have . . . .and some whose “Aunt is an artist.” You get the grist of it. When Painting outside in the open air, there are lots and lots of conditions that try very hard to break your concentration.
That is, if you let them.
There is another side of the coin: Standing in front of an easel, paints and brushes in hand, not knowing if you can carry it off right downtown Paris, France. Or, standing in front of Yellowstone Falls painting the scene with one of your favorite artists, or Being at a secluded beach on a beautiful day watching every stroke be perfect, Or Standing in the shallow, meandering water of the Merced River looking up at Half Dome in Yosemite park as the dome takes on an Alpine Glow and turns the color of a pumpkin. Or, maybe it is when you are at Point Lobos State Park on the coast of the Monterey Peninsula, with two painting buddies . . . . everyone hyperventilating at the drop dead gorgeous scenery. Or, fogging off to the French Conuntryside in the Lot River Valley trying to make artistic sense of a medieval village or citadel!
Okay, so I have had my easel blown over and paintings spoiled while confronting the elements. I have come home bitten and burned and sick to my stomach from hunger. But, Baby, there is nothing like the places I have been and triedto paint (yes, unsuccessfully) !!! I can still smell the air at Yellowstone Falls in the year 1995 . . . . .twenty years ago!! I still look at the painting made while standing ankle deep in water of the Merced River because that was the best view . . . . .I can feel the trickle over my shoes! And I can recount the crazy conversations and sharing the intense, deep connection with three friends while we painted Point Lobos. (Google some images of that place!)
Yes, there are aggravations, distractions and disappointments. But with them there are pleasures so rich and so unforgettable, that every one of those teensy little bothers are simply the external white noise to which we never pay much attention.
If you haven’t mustered the courage to fight off the elements and distractions, you are missing out on an extraordinary experience. Those pleasures just sit out there waiting for us artists. Yep. They are sitting there right now ready to be eaten up by our excitement and our zeal to capture the beauty.
Thanks, Mom, for training me to eat what I have been served!!