I was asked by the ladies of Meta4 Gallery in Port Perry to conduct a workshop on Saturday for a small group who wished to be introduced to plein air painting back in late June. I agreed and was notified on Thursday that I was indeed to have the workshop with three participants.
Living about two hours distant from this bustling community... I was unable to really scout around beforehand... as is my usual practice... to prepare for a setting that would be suitable and would therefore optimize success. Summer painting has its hazards... as most plein air painters recognize and prepare themselves for.
I struck off at 6:00am to arrive in Port Perry to make my scouting foray. Glad that I did! All of the usual haunts along Lake Scugog were either overgrown with bull rushes and slimed over because of unusually low water levels... or overrun with people doing a variety of activities from hiking trails... sculling... or launching small craft. Neither conditions suited my comfort zone... so I patrolled the back streets until I found a place with a paintable subject... quiet... shade... washrooms nearby and parking.
I arrived back at the Gallery and awaited my fellow painters and by 10:15 we were off to the chosen land. In arriving... I was a bit unsettled to learn that all three were raw beginners... even to painting really and that their equipment and lack of it reflected that fact. However... being "out there" has taught "Me" to be flexible... and to be over prepared. We shared paints and I even surrendered my easel when one of the easels gave up the ghost... even before being put to the test.
I had them follow me on a "walk about" to determine possibilities... but suggested that we all focus on the same subject from the same viewpoint... given their mutual inexperience. I felt a sense of relief come over the group... which I shared. I set up quickly and within 15-20 minutes quickly moved my interpretation of the view through the lay in process... then helped each of them establish the basic form and elements to begin their own lay ins. The lay ins proceeded slowly at first... but once colour mixing problems and brushwork suggestions were in place ... the pace and their individual confidence picked up, so that we were able to break at 12:20 pm for the planned lunchtime visit to the restaurant for a meal at a local bistro nearby... arranged through Meta4.
After a sumptuous lunch and sharing of backgrounds we headed back to our site and the threesome immediately and enthusiastically jumped back into action. It was refreshing to "Me" to watch over the shoulder of each of the individuals pushing forward with their newly-acquired skills and self-confidence... and seeing the implementation in their own terms and through their own artistic eyes.
The day was very warm... and the sun shifted westward... leaving us in direct sunlight. No one seemed to even notice...or complain.What was even more surprising to me still... was that all reached the final destination within minutes of the others. At 3:45 pm... we packed up our gear... said our goodbyes... and headed off in our separate directions... back to our own worlds.
Each of the pairs of jpegs gives the lay in to near finished pieces for comparison. The growth for each of the participants is very obvious... and I would say... a remarkable accomplishment for first time painters... suddenly dipped head first into the plein air hot pot.
But one thing is certain in my mind. Four individuals who have been brought together through a plein air experience... now have an appreciation and a healthier new respect for their own creative abilities. As well... we learned valuable lessons about our own lives... and that we are not so very different in how we live them as we often fear. "We"... all share a very common path... with its myriads of joy... disappointment... successes... failures and opportunities... if we take the courage to reach out and risk!
I returned joyfully to my own life with Deb enriched by the spirit of three new acquaintances... who I KNOW... I will meet again! "We" are bonded by an experience where everyone was a winner and an equal in the midst of others!
My humblest thanks to the Meta4 ladies for their continued belief and support of my artisitic journey! If you are ever in the area or have a few moments drop in to the gallery for a REAL art fix! Their tastes are immpecably displayed in every corner of their gorgeous and friendly shop!Their web site can be reached at www.meta4gallery.ca/
Paint on Carol...Neil and Christine! You really shone...each of you!
Happy Painting to All!