A week ago I went out painting with Del again. It was a nice outing as far as the weather went (though a bit overcast and blustery) and we chose a nice place that was serine and peaceful up on the plains. I enjoyed Del's company (and Marge's) and I think that I learned a few things too. Unfortunately, I think I did the worst plein air piece of my life. It was a little frustrating to say the least -- but it didn't bother me as much as I would have expected it to. Partly because I have a tenacity and boyancy that always alows me to bounce back - no matter what.
One of the things that I learned was that I need to do more painting. Progress doesn't come from thinking about techniques or reading about painting from other people -- as helpful as that can be -- it comes from a lot of work and, plainly, I can use a lot more practice. Of the things that I need to work on -- one of them, certainly, is doing skies. That's one of the things that I'm going to try to concentrate on this summer.
When I got back from my outing I hid the painting that I'd worked on ... hoping that when I saw it in the morning I would find something good in it and not be so discouraged. The morning view only made my stomach churn. Oy. I remembered a scene in a recent movie about Van Gogh -- where he was so disturbed by a painting that he was working on out in the field, that he put his foot through it. I felt like that ... exactly like that ... but I'd painted on panel. Later, perhaps, I'll scrape it and paint over it. I don't think that there's any point in trying to salvage it from photos -- but it may be possible. I also have a picture of Del's beautiful work of the day that I could learn from. We'll see.
Get back on the horse ... right? That's what they say. I couldn't find any horses, so, I grabbed all of my gear instead, and headed out to paint. I knew exactly where I wanted to go. I found a great place to paint in the cemetary to the west of town. There was a statue that I thought would make a great studdy. It would be the combination of plein air landscape, still life, and figure painting. It was perfect. Unfortunately, that's exactly what the mosquitoes thought too ... the perfect place for a feast. Before I could even make one stroke I had to pack it in and head for other places rather than be the main course for vampire mosquitoes in the cemitary. I wondered if any of them had nibbled at corpes before alighting on me. Would I turn into some sort of un-dead? A zombie artist, roaming the streets looking for subjects to paint? Hmmm, with this night job, sometimes I feel that way anyway.
I went to Manito Park on the South Hill. It took me quite a while to narrow down my perspective subjects -- so many beautiful things there -- but I settled on an old stone bridge that Brenda and I had looked at last winter. I know, right, another bridge? How many bridges have I painted? How many bridges have I crossed ... how many roads must a man walk down before he knows he's a man? How many bridges does one artist need to paint before he knows he's an artist? Wait ... that's not how the song goes. The answer would be -- at least one more.
I was using my box easel ... and I sat on the tail gate of my truck while I worked. It was quite warm but I was able to hook my umbrella up and painted in the shade. It wasn't my best outing ever ... but it was a great start. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to work on it the rest of the week due to crummy weather. I had to work on it from the photos that I took. It's not a pollished piece, but I think it has the charm that decent plein air pieces will. It may be a study for a larger work, I'm not sure. One thing was for certain, though, I felt much better about things when I did have that decent outing.