Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Bringing in the New.......
"I" couldn't wait for the blowing snow to come to an end,to get "out there"... paint box and canvas in hand for a few hours alone in the outdoors. I had already chosen "the place" that would be the starting place for my 2010 painting year. It was a spot well in from the highway... a sugar shanty nestled at the edge of a maple and hardwood forest... and out of the reach of the frigid prevailing nor'wester that was numbing and relentless in the open areas of the Oro-Medonte.
I knew that it would be a bit of a taxing trek to follow the deeply covered and unplowed Line Road that would lead "Me" to the trail into the site. I have snowshoes... but I have not as yet replaced the ragged and stretched rubber bindings.Knowing that the half mile trek would be tiring and use up much needed energy for painting... I put out my pigment on my palette... left out the heavy tubes.. except for additional "soft mix" titanium white. I took along only three flats and a rigger... and a small container of turps on my box. All that "I" would carry in was the paint box, lightweight Test Rite fold up aluminum,a 16x20 inch linen canvas and my trusty can of kerosene to clean my dirty brushes.
The weather cleared and I headed off... just after 1:00 pm, time to get in and set up as the afternoon shadows started to pattern the landscape. The snow was about mid-calf depth on the road... but jumped to knee level as I moved into the open meadow leading to the shanty. A surprise awaited me as I crested the knoll! My "spot"... or previous vantage point... a clear three quarter side view of the shanty was now permanently occupied by an interloper... a (too) large red garage structure that looked so out of place in this wooded site.
A bit disheartened by the "intruder"... but determined not to be defeated by this annoyance... I backed up and found a more distant, but similar view that I had hoped for. This would have to suffice! I set up quickly and confidently... as I have literally many hundreds of times before... looked over the composition for a minute or so... and started into the drawing part.
Another glitch! I could not get my right hand steady enough to draw a line. It just shook uncontrollably... leaving squiggly "glyphs" instead of line. To be truthful, I was at first quite concerned since I was not at all cold at this point... which can produce similar problems outdoors. I persevered, hoping that it would go away... but for at least the first half hour,I was really not progressing in a normal way. "I" decided to put brushes down and take a bit of a stroll... I often do so during the course of a session outdoors to get away from the painting. When I returned about ten minutes later... my right hand was again doing what it was told. While painting,I realized that I had carried in the brunt of the carry-in load in my right hand - a mistake that I wouldn't repeat in the future!
The afternoon was beautiful... bits of broken sun patches...blue sky and lovely deep blue shadows... and a "hush"... that melts away any worry from the Soul! After almost two hours of steady work.. it began to snow lightly, but from experience... enough to fill the palette and turn pigment to unruly and useless oatmeal. I packed up my gear quickly and began what I knew would be a more challenging return back to the car on the distant highway.
In my exuberance to get "out there", I had forgotten the cardinal rule for outdoor painting:
NEVER leave your return until you have started to feel the crippling effects of lengthy exposure to the cold!!! Leave well before you get that feeling... especially if you are deep into the woods off the road.
Lucky for me, that a fresh snowmobile track ran the length of the Line road... it hastened what would have been a much more lengthy,arduous and energy-draining return.The cold car was a welcome sanctuary from the wind and the trip home was only about ten minutes. I quickly dropped all of my gear in the studio... placed the canvas on the easel ... headed upstairs to our apartment and immediately started filling the tub with hot water. I stripped off my layers of clothing and thermals... picked up my drink of choice ( a non-alcoholic dark beer) from the fridge and headed for the "spa"!
There is no greater reward... or treat for "Me"...after a day of outdoor painting than this warming up ritual! It immediately restores core body temperature and re-energizes a tired body and Soul.Any earlier thoughts that "You" are daft to carry out this torture... dissolves... and the deep satisfaction for having met the challenge replaces the cold feeling!
Outdoor painting in cold weather is not for everyone... nor does it set "Me" aside as someone special in any way."I" just have a passion for being out there.One must prepare and be prepared for some discomfort. One must have the proper clothing and equipment to work safely and successfully. But for "ME"... there is no greater pleasure than to head out to the sanctity and the quiet of the outdoors!
"....it restoreth my Soul"!
Good painting to all!