Saturday, February 5, 2011

Painting For Your Life: A Plein Aire Fiasco


Tree At St. Mary's, 20" X 26", (1985), inquire here for print.
 So what do you estimate.  Two, hours?  Three?   I spent a week inventing and building a portable easel, such that when it collapsed it became a nap sack full of paint supplies, two stools, a wet palatte/painting caddie, a lunch and a water jug to last all day.  I parked across that field where the leaf hangs down, in front of that building, St. Mary's Seminary.  Hoisted it all on my back and hiked to this spot.  I spent the next three days painting the most overworked, hideous scene of this tree and it's surroundings.  Perfect mudpie.  Had to jazz the piece up a little back in the studio.  Alright a lot,.  You can't see any of the original three day effort.  My new plein aire kit sure worked, though.  Never used it again.

14 comments:

hw (hallie) farber said...

So you're all set for the next plein aire outing. I tried it once--too many bugs, too hot, and too much sun.

I just watched the climb to change the light bulb--heights make me queasy.

William Cook said...

Oh Halle thank you for your comment. I'm in awe of the plein aire painters and there are so many really great ones blogging that I had my doubts about posting this--you saved the day. While I'm not opposed to trying it again, I'm waiting for some better weather. That light bulb thing is kreepy isn't it? A buddy of mine couldn't get through it. Did you see the brief moment at the end where he lets go and fiddles with that attaching device? No hands--just standing on the edge of that little platform--on his toes.

Susan Roux said...

It's those darn reds I tell you! Frustrate you every time.

William Cook said...

Watch your tone young lady--Valentines Day is coming up. We need all the red we can get. Seriously though, after all that tedious nitsy detail that was boring, I just let it out, bashed it in, a freight train of force. After ten minutes of that I started liking it. There's all kinds of hell going on in that red. And you can't plan it. Wm

Kathy said...

You jazzed-up this painting just right! In so doing, you confirmed my opinion about plein aire painting. One of my instructors once said "painting is not an outdoor sport." Sums it up for me. I've done it many times and have no interest in it anymore, despite the public's demand to view and own landscapes. My outdoor painting equipment sits in the attic collecting dust.

William Cook said...

Yes, and its not like I don't admire this skill, I truely do. And landscape is my first love. Most of my work from recent years could be considered plein aire, only in the other diredtion--boy, if art supplies were allowed in there...

Jane said...

These trees are beautiful , very free spirited. And the light is so perfect.

Peggy Stermer-Cox said...

Hi WM! Fun read about your plein aire adventure! I haven't tried it; rains too much around here and I'd rather avoid being cold and miserable. I do like your jazzed up landscape; particularly the red!

Celeste Bergin said...

I hope you'll give plein air another try..it's a fascinating way to get frustrated on a regular basis.

William Cook said...

Hi Celeste--Alright, I'm wearing down. I've already been looking at the new light weight easeles, and I bought some of Maggie Lathum's watercolor pencils (Sketching With Maggie). Now if I can only find a spot where the old ladies aren't armed with six-shooters, I'll let the paint smack me around a little. Great to hear from you! Wm

Four Seasons in a Life said...

Greetings William,

I could not help but also read every one who replied to this post and your comments to their words, you certainly have a warped sense of humour that is very refreshing.

Only once have I gone out and painted in the field, but I have not given up on the idea even though Celeste hits the nail on the head as 'frustration' is a great part of plein aire.

Personally I prefer to use the camera as my sketchbook and back home do the painting in one sitting, this way I am close to the refrigerator as well, especially since I cannot drag it with me.

Warmest regards,
Egmont

William Cook said...

Egmont! Agreed. No refrigerator, no art. When I paint a recognizable scene, I don't have any problem at all propping a photo up and gazing at it as if I was there (which I was in memory). Is anything lost? Probably, but I'm always reducing what I see into impression anyway whether I'm on the scene or not. What difference does it make? There's another post that's even more warped, about a lady with a gun that ran me off while I was trying out plein air painting-- Three Variations, Same Source. I'll take warped with dignity. Wm

Four Seasons in a Life said...

Greetings William,

Painting on location or painting from a series of photographs equal the same results since it is our brush work and colour that interprets what we have seen and experienced, though I am also quick to add that remaining at a location and being witness to the changing light can lead to new discoveries to a scene. This would have been lost if one left after taking the photograph.
In defense of the photograph it will capture a fleeting moment we could have missed while painting.

As for being run off the property with a shoot gun, I guess we have this in common too, so how about being arrested? I still have my summons to appear in court as a badge of courage. Undaunted we continue.

Warmest regards,
Egmont

William Cook said...

Egmont! Absolutely. Nothing beats being out in the air. I am fond of disappearing for the day, and just covering distance. I am planning a few of these excursions only with a sketchbook. That's as plein air as I'm willing to try for now. Of course the little pocket Nikon will be along for those fleeting moments like my sidewalk shots.

Arrested!! The plot thickens. I thought I detected a bit of an edge. The closest I ever came was shooting reference for a hospital aerial. While I was getting my thing in a wad, the officer began to explain how the pesky animal rights activists were wreaking havoc with the facilities. He thought I was one of them. I kept my mouth shut. Prudent. I was working for the CEO. Still I did not appreciate being stopped by a Gestapo guy.