I returned from my weekend sojourn spent partly in the company of twenty-nine painting friends from the East Central Ontario Association of Artists... a group that I've had the privilege to share time with for over thirty years. We meet regularly in various locations to share our passion for outdoor... yes... plein air painting in all seasons. Algonquin Park, Geneva Park in Orillia and Bark Lake have the necessary facilities and wilderness space to accomodate our lodging, meals and painting needs for the thee to four day events. Each location also has large studio spaces to acccomodate both watercolour and oil painting spaces. As well... each has a main area with fireplace and comfy furniture to meet in the evening for social get togethers and music. In simple terms... we are an extended family who happen to share a passion for art ... made in the outdoors!
This year I was honoured to be asked to conduct a demo on the Friday evening... and to deliver a "friendly" critique of one piece chosen by each artist immediately after the Saturday evening meal. I felt somewhat intrepid about both activities... mainly because some of these artists certainly were beyond criticism from my humble position... but more importantly, because I choose to work mostly alone as of late... and never did look for opinion to really guide my painting process. Painting is such a personal act... perhaps the only part of my life which is not subject to the ideas of others.
I decided to create an exercise for the demo which focused on my firm belief... that even when outdoors painting... one must not be coerced into simply "following the plow"... and copying what is in front of you. "You" are the Creator... in charge... free to interpret and make of what is in front of you in your own unique way... both in choice of colour... design... even season... if you dare to go way out on a limb.
I chose a sample of what "I" refer to in my landscape work as my "Intuitive" genre/style. In this method... I create flourish and rhythm in the landscape... colour that isn't necessarily there to create my very own landscape. I chose an autumn sample as my reference for the demo... stating from the beginning that my goal was to make use of the basic structure of the fall piece to create a unique winter version. I chose a vertical canvas 24x18 (larger than most work outdoors on)... and painted with a black acrylic ground.
I promised to paint as I do... quickly and with a bravura that is driven by rapidly changing light... and extremely cold temperatures. The highest for the weekend was -6C... and on two days the temperature was well below -20C for the entire day. Speed is essential to "getting things down"... choosing the essentials and making rapid decisions re: tone and value. In these temperatures, I usually allow n0 more than an hour per painting... anything beyond that can be filled in later in the studio... or when you return to the same location... warmed and ready to work comfortably.
It should be noted that while the demo borrows strongly from the basic design in the other two versions... my treatment and certain elements change or are replaced at will to create a new version. I can... and often do change the season right on location... just to keep me away from simply copying the scene. In this way... there is complete freedom to create. I'd rather a blank sheet than a colouring book... always have.... even as a child. Guess I'll never really grow up! HAHA!!
I completed the demo piece... as you see it here in the jpeg posted... in just over an hour. In my own mind it was "unfinished"... and I wanted to bring it home. But the group begged me to go no further... they loved the loose ... painterly quality as it stood. Four people wanted to purchase it... one lady in particular was really taken by it... so I signed off... my signature and she took the piece home with her.
I had completed one 10x12 panel earlier on the Friday on my scouting trip prior to my arrival at the Centre... just to warm up. I managed to complete a total of six paintings... all done outdoors over the weekend. There were subjects everywhere one looked... and when the grey skies on Friday gave way to sunny blue sky for the remainder of the weekend... I was in my element and really got my fix for sure! I returned home... pumped to get on with my work... energized by my painting and by my contact with kindred spirits!
I will post the other five paintings in Part Two... towards the weekend... for your enjoyment and interest. WE have another storm in the area and another foot of snow on the ground already... and more predicted to be on the way! Let it snow!...Let it snow!... But don't tell Deb! She hates the cold!
Good Painting to All