Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Side Effects of Being An Artist

Side Effects of Being An Artist

Never learn how to paint unless you have a sincere desire to live life to the fullest.

Most common side effects:

  • The desire to work on your off days
  • Happiness when others around you are grumpy and bored
  • Spend more money on paint brushes than chocolate....
  • Insatiable desire to find new colors
  • High intolerance of boring people
  • Better general health
  • Loss of spare bedroom
  • Unending desire to be with other artists and learn new techniques
In May about a dozen of us gathered on the back bay of Biloxi, Mississippi to paint..."Plein Air."

For most in the class, it was a first time experience and I worried for weeks before the class if the weather would be kind and if everyone would feel comfortable painting "on location."

The plans were to paint on location that Saturday and then under a pavilion the next day to add the finishing details to our 10 x 20" canvas landscapes.

The scene was simple, almost boring, but to the eyes of an artist, it was the best kind with plenty of room for interpretation and creative license. The pine tree was our subject.  Just enough unique twists and turns and asymmetry to make it interesting... just my favorite thing to paint!

Anything else in the composition would be changed to set the stage for a very fun painting...

               simple and totally fun to paint.

The location had all the right things... but we had to do a little research on location to know what would be the best elements to add... or subtract from the composition.

One of my favorite Gulf Coast plants is Palmetto:
To avoid "gangrene" it was very important to select plants of different colors.

Brown Broom Sage

 For a wonderful accent, we found a bush with flowers the same orange red color of Trumpet Vine.  It was new to me and I still have not found the name:

Our mystery plant....
What appeared to be a somewhat simple or even boring scene became exciting and filled with life.  We even had the problem of leaving some things out:

A pair of Black Ducks feeding behind us as we painted.

If you are an artist, you know how it is to find a great view to paint on location.

The night before is like Christmas.  

Sleep comes slow as the mind races to explore the mental possibilities of the new painting.  To share the experience with others who have never had the opportunity to paint on location.... well, there is an added excitement.
 I was delighted to be the one to lead my friends into a new artistic experience.

Getting started in our plein air studio.

Lewis and I had planned for almost any weather event.  I encouraged everyone to wear old cotton loose fitting clothes.  A hat is a must.  Good shoes are never a bad idea. 
Add a cooler of water, snack bars and maybe bug spray and you are set for the day.
Lewis brought a canopy to give us some shade...something I rarely have when painting alone on location. 

Each artist brought a stool or folding stool.  
Learning to unfold the variety of outdoor easels was fun.  

Once everyone was set up and ready to paint,

 I demonstrated the wonderfully fun and easy way to paint a glorious Coastal sky:

And the day begins!!

It was a wonderful day.  Everyone was so happy they had taken this new and exciting approach to painting.  Lewis sat with all our easels while we took a trip down Popps Ferry Road to get some lunch.  I thought we would take a leisurely lunch, but it seems everyone was more excited to get back to their painting and the next steps which I demonstrated one at a time.

After each demonstration everyone began that simple step.  I moved in and around the class answering questions, doing individual demos on how to mix colors, what brush was best and little tricks to overcome what seemed like artistic confusion. 

Artists At Work !!
Lewis had to remind everyone to stop for water.  Laughter broke out all through the day as we shared personal feelings and "artistic humor."  So far, we each had suffered most of the side effects of being "plein air artists."

Our day came to an end around 3:30.  Our canvases were completely covered with fresh oil paint and we marveled at our own success. 
Tomorrow we would share a day of adding details and more laughter.  Saying goodbye to this wonderful experience would become a good memory for each of us.

A plein air studio with all the right tools.

Before the second day was over, a beautiful sunset dipped into the Gulf and invited us to come back for another glorious experience of painting in the greatest of all studios... that of the great Creator.

Thank you for this day.

What could be better than this occasion?
The next one!!