Note: the "porridgy" areas. Use of strong impasto hides a lot... and adds real strength and movement in the foreground water.
#3 "Through the Cedars"- oil on panel 10x12 inches
Tuesday #2 "January Thaw" oil on canvas 12x16 inches
I have been trying to find some "get-up-and-go" after my one-sided week long battle with a bad cold/virus. You know that feeling ... I'm sure. Still achy... and living between snoozes... hardly a time to either be... or feel remotely in the mood for creating.
I had mentioned that I often found purely "fun" explorations such as the stick trick to coax "Me" back up into the saddle... without a need for getting into things seriously. Sketching is one of those activities that never fails to enliven interest... no matter what tools one employs. It is portable and freeing... an activity... short in duration like a crossword puzzle that can be put down and come back to without loss of direction. Often this coming and going sparks entirely new direction in thought and a final solution.
The phone rang on Thursday... a call from my painting buddy in Algonquin Park, David Kay wondering... if I felt like a paint up there. My body kept trying to say no... given what you've read above... but my creative half answered yes.... certainly! So we weather-watched over the weekend... freezing rain was in the forecast along with snow. I packed up my gear and clothing on Sunday night and called David early on Monday morning.
No freezing rain up there at that time... so I agreed to head off at 8:00 am towards the Park but with the reservation that if I encountered the FR... that I'd turn around and head back home. The "nasty" never did appear over the entire three days... but I did have to fight my way through some tricky slushy road conditions for half of the journey from the Park's West Gate at Dwight to within a few kilometers of The East Gate at Whitney where David and Diane reside.
I arrived and we had a nice warm lunch... then immediately headed along the Madawaska River Road and quickly found a suitable subject. We had decided to take along my trusty Dodge Caravan instead of David's four wheel drive truck... because the rear hatch door can serve as a shelter from the elements. By placing one leg into the trunk area... two artists can work comfortably under this lid... out of the wind, rain or snow... without fear of the dreaded snow -in-your-palette nightmare that often kills a winter plein air experience.
We did, in fact have snow from time to time... with temperatures hovering around -3 C. But both of us came away with reasonably good sketches... given the less than perfect light and veil of flurries that came and went during our outing. That all aside... I was painting! Back in the saddle again.... Yahoo! Where did those cold symptoms disappear to? Yes... it was indeed a "head" cold... but it went deeper than that in my "head"! HA HA!
We awoke Tuesday to find fiercely gusting northwesterly winds and driving snow - definitely not what one steps out into to paint en plein air! We settled into a great breakfast combination of oat meal and Red River Cereal and chatting that led almost to 11:00 am. We decided that the weather had let up enough to give things a go... again with my Caravan. The Park was really under snow siege... so we opted to return to yesterday's site because there was shelter from the gusting winds... and more importantly... we had scouted out at least three "possibles" for a return visit.
I must admit that the entire day was a constant challenge in dealing with the wind and snow. I was glad of my prior decision to think and paint on the small side! On a few occasions we had to dump off accumulated amounts of snow that had managed to swirl its way around the edges of the vehicle and into our work area.
"Palette porridge"... for us both by the end of the day! We did manage to get in three more smallish sketches... two of which required nothing really when I got them home. The third one certainly displayed the results of snow in the paint! I decided twice during the actual plein air experience that I couldn't brush my way through to a conclusion... so I hauled out my small paint knife and put it to work. Despite this prevailing nastiness... the sun did manage to poke it head through for a half hour... and I seized upon this good stroke of luck to "upgrade my colour and the lighting conditions in Through the Cedars! The gambit worked out nicely I think!
Surprisingly... the knife really did work better... and with the paint conditions of the surface. I managed to save the day with those two... and have since applied the very same strategy to the final 8x10 canvas that I had believed was a "scrapper." I'll let you be the judge of my success... or lack of it! One must be constantly ready to shift gears in the field... adjusting to light ... weather and even new methods/tools for working. This readiness and willingness to act... is often the difference between success and failure in the day.
I returned to Hillsdale with a fresh sense of renewal... eager and ready to jump into the Nova Scotian canvases... which are overdue! Sometimes... pushing oneself beyond what seems to be in the way can rejuvenate one's creative spirit. Nothing does that better for "Me"... than getting "out there"... where every sense is stimulated and fused seamlessly into the actual act of painting. Whether or not we achieve the added good fortune of actually making a "gem"... pales in the face of the spiritual gains that only come from plein air painting... being "One" with Creation and The Universe! Add to that... the opportunity for good and encouraging friendship to share one's passion with!
Good Painting to All !