My last outing with my plein air class ignited a new-found enthusiasm to just... "let it all hang out" and paint without drawing and on the smaller 5x7 inch panels toned with burnt sienna acrylic. I always have a stock of these with me when I am am painting en plein air... and customarily use them at the end of a painting session when I am either short on time... or energy... just to extend the day and to push myself to "shoot from the hip". I call these ... "my run-for the sun" paintings... meaning... trying to get another one in before darkness turns the lights out for the day!
The day was hot on Friday... so I elected to paint in our garden... there was plenty of material still around despite the ravaging heat of the previous week. I would follow the pattern I had established in my class demo with the half hour cone flower study... placing the same time constraints and floral subject matter. It was quite simply... painting for the sake of pure pleasure! I think that shows in the three small studies that I managed in that single summertime afternoon. They are what they are... a quick and painterly interpretation of flowers that have given us so much unexpected pleasure here in our new Rockport residence.
I now more fully understand and appreciate why my Mom took such pleasure from .... just "hangin out" tending her lovely gardens which ringed our cottage each year for the duration of the more than forty years that we cottaged at the Narrows. We three young children were busy swimmin' n' fishin'... exploring... out of sight for days on end... and the cottage was hers alone.... having only the company of our resident great blue heron "Big Bird" and Jenny Wren who returned faithfully each year to a slightly battered birch birdhouse to rear yet another batch of young ones. I think my Mom felt a sense of kinship with "her" in particular... because they... in a way shared parallel journeys in life.
This "quick draw" exercise prepared me for my participation in The 3rd Annual Artists on the Lawn even which our friend, neighbour and landlord (though she hardly acts like one) organizes each year. Shje invites artisan friends... some of which exhibit their wares in her River Shoppe Boutique and Convenience location on the water from The Andress Boat Works which she and her husband Art own and operate. She invited me to participate by painting on the grounds with the other participants. A good part of the grounds were already covered by tents and tables of exhibitors... so I elected to paint under the wonderful shade of one of the three ancient oaks... and chose a vertical composition that focussed upon the gay... carnival-like atmosphere which lay before me.
I was particularly drawn to the jolly colour of the tents themselves... and more particularly by the presence of a very obvious repeating pattern of triangles that seemed to relate strangely to each other. In took liberties and applied artistic licence (as I always try to) to exchange certain tents to achieve better focus and harmony in the picture. I was careful to initiate the session by making my aim to paint masses of colour "alla prima" to create an overall structure... and sticking with that goal until the very end. I added only a few people... making no effort to refine their detail or presence to make them recognizable. That was not important to me. It was more important to have them set into place as casual... gestural... as if one stood aside taking in the event bent upon simply watching and enjoying being present. And I was doing just that!
The turn out of visitors to both the site and our Gallery located directly across the street was nothing short of phenomenal! Deb had a steady flow of visitors who expressed their surprise at our new presence in the village. They vowed to return when they had more time... in some cases purchased Deb's fanciful and unique gift cards and jewellery. I made contacts for two more possible commissions... one of which will certainly come to pass! It was wonderful as well to meet and make "art talk" for the entire day with other local artisans who not only share our passion and journey... but our Home as well!
I sincerely hope that you enjoy these four paintings for what they represent - a setting aside of the sometimes stringent demands we make of ourselves to seek perfection and to make "progress." Often that notion actually works in reverse.... and I'm not the only one who thinks that way. Here is a quote worth remembering... perhaps even tacking to you "To Do" boards in your studios. Gilbert K Chesterton was a renowned English writer, poet and journalist. This quote spoke volumes to "Me" and I believe that this activity supports his claim about "progress":
"The fatal error of progress, which means leaving things behind us, has utterly obscured the real meaning of growth, which means leaving things within us."
What do "You" think??? ... "I" wonder???
Good painting and Happy Summer to ALL!
Get "out there"! Summer's "slip-sidin' away!"