Friday, May 11, 2012

Opening Day (Angelique Tulips) and the importance of reliable, comfortable gear, and LAND SNORKELING

8"x6" oil on linen mounted on archival panel

For more information about this painting, or to purchase, click here.

Named in honor of my daughter Heather's favorite sport, these  tulips are at their peak bloom in my front garden. I'm hoping they'll last a bit longer.  They are one of those plantings that turned out better than I thought they would! I've been messing about with brush AND palette knife lately, and with the small pochade box I was working with, this little painting just didn't lend itself to knife work. Like playing scales for musicians, though, every painting adds to the 'cumulative learning' that goes on to build the next painting.

Usually I stand up to paint. Especially outdoors, where I want to have the mobility to get back from my easel and have a distant look at what I'm attempting to put on canvas.  But there are times when I want to sit, perhaps, as in this case, to have a lower vantage point that's also a bit closer to my subject.

One piece of my normal gear was a small 3-legged folding camp stool. It's light weight, easy to carry along with my back pack, if I need it when I'm painting outdoors. Well....I'm sad to say, after sitting on this thing for 12 years or so (I'm thinking it might even be older than that), the nylon seat finally gave way where the fabric fits over the legs, and voila, it no longer had a seat! I hated to throw it away, but it was beyond repair.

So yesterday, when I wanted to sit at a low point to see these tulips, I went through the garage trying to find something to "make-do" until I replace that little camp-stool.  At first I tried a big plastic flower pot (one that a tree came in). Surely it would hold me. But no, as soon as I sat on it, it began to collapse.  That wouldn't last long, so next, I tried a bucket. It held for a while as I got into my painting.  I was 3/4 of the way to what I thought might be completion, when I realized, this bucket was slowly collapsing too! Ugh. And it is difficult to paint when you are NOT thinking about the painting, but whether you will be sitting on the ground in a heap within a few moments.  Now, I've trolling through and now remember the one I had actually has 4 legs and looks like this.
  I think I might need to ask for one for Mother's Day!

***LAND SNORKELING! or what I learned from Clyde Aspevig at the First Annual Plein Air Convention.   Renowned painter Clyde Aspevig was a presenter at Plein Air Convention last month. But rather than giving a demo, he gave us a very interesting, insightful slide show and presentation.  He and his wife (and fellow painter) Carole Guzman Aspevig are dedicated to environmental causes, and she had come up with the term, "land snorkeling" many years ago.  It is pretty much this- taking the time to savor the aspects of nature that we don't ordinarily see or pay attention to.  I invite you to visit their website on this topic- and join in the discussion of your findings if you you are so interested.

Some other thoughts and discussions for artists that he shared were:
- "What makes you want to paint in the first place?"

- "All those bad paintings are part of that process we must all go through."

-"Why do we want to paint like someone else?- (We have our own voice to find)".

-"Pay attention to the WHOLE, don't get caught up in details."

-"The human brain loves status quo, but also surprises."

I could go on & on...but you get the idea. The discussion was great food for thought, and insightful for everyone there, no matter what level of painter. Amazing thing was, there were a few painters attending  the convention who had never painted 'plein air' before! Good for them for having the courage to go "total immersion"! I hope they have found a world of new possibilities opened to them.

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