Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Beating the Heat - Part One

We have been experiencing a very deep and long lasting heat wave in our area. Despite being located alongside the River... by noon the heat has been unbearable and certainly unsafe to be painting en plein air without proper shade. The humidex level reached a very unsafe and unhealthy 38 today... and heat advisory warnings were issued in the early morning. I cannot tolerate deep humidity -  it wrenches from me every morsel of energy and motivation to paint... or to do anything but retreat to our very cool basement for comfort.

I have much missed my regular routine of painting and walking... and soon become agitated and restless when I am unable to get down to work. I finally decided to try an early start om Sunday morning... hoping to at least kick start the process... knowing full well that it would take me a while to get back into the Flow. I had been looking at an unfinished panel that I was forced to abandon because of snow... on my last trip to Algonquin Park to paint with David Kay...way back in February. That waterfall scene kept staring at me each time that I went to our basement studio where my computer is located. I knew that it had the makings for a good piece... but the interruption in my usual start-to-finish method had caused me to balk at restarting. I vowed to get back to it on Sunday.

I followed through and set up at the entrance to the outside gallery, shaded by the balsam and pine cover and prepared to set to work. I had just gotten everything set up and was ready to proceed when two customers meandered by me and  into the Gallery. I conversed with them as they wandered through the Gallery and through my conversation with one of the women, I discovered by her voice and questions that she was a visiting artist from Australia. She praised my work... but quickly singled out the one on the easel as her favourite of all. I assured her that it would look much better by the end of the morning. She suggested that I leave it as it was because it "spoke" wonderfully to her as it sat. She loved "that the painting to that point had isolated the waterfall's action and wasn't at all fussy." Painterly... and expressive were the words she chose to describe it. I thanked her for her candid and keen observations and gave her one of our business postcards to check in on its progress.

I could agree that it indeed had that feel... but that that feel was more or less the product of necessity... created by a rapidly advancing snowstorm and a very small window of opportunity to get down the essentials. So I had purposely focused on the flow of the water and added very little detail of the trees and rocks which formed along its downhill path towards me. Here is the painting in that state before I "Shermanized" it.

 Tunnel vision for certain. All of the focus is on the water... with mere suggestions and nuances of attention the rocks and birches on either side. The panel... shown below framed has a more satisfying and a more finished feel (sort of)... but not enough to deter me from proceeding to satisfy my inner vision of what I had imagined on that frigid and blustery February day. Strangely... I decide to switch seasons to step into the present. Sorry Yvonne... "The devil made me do it!" HA HA!!

Seriously... you can respond to criticism and advice, but the final decisions about where a painting goes lies in the hands of the artist themselves. Otherwise... ownership is never complete... which to "Me"... is what painting creatively is all about!
Taking this approach... and choosing to change seasons really
made the whole painting session interesting for me and surprisingly,
the painting moved along quickly to its conclusion.

Here is the nearly completed painting. It has maintained a fresh feel... certainly with more detail and finish than the first views. I feel that the painterly quality that yvonne noted has been maintained and that the scene is pleasing to the eye. At the very least... it no longer stares at me when I go the the basement to create posts... and cool off.

Capping these positive things... is a coolness - something that doesn't for the moment exist in these parts at this very moment! Even a brief thunderstorm did little to add the coolness that I feel when I look at this painting!

"Summer... Tumbles In" - oil on panel 24 x20 inches

I am "back in the saddle again!"

Good Painting to ALL! Stay cool... in the shade y'all !

PS My next post... already in the works, is the result of a very unique and highly enjoyable foray by boat with fellow American artist Paul Taylor out to Rock Island Light. This gem of a painting location... loaded with painting possibilities is located on a four acre island right smack in the main channel of the St Lawrence near Clayton, NY. A great adventure!

Stay tuned...


  1. I love this! Glad to hear that you are back "on board!"

  2. Hi there Wendy!... Thanks for dropping by and for leaving your encouraging comment! I am as well... glad to be back on board!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  3. It's so hard to work in the heat isn't it! I feel like my brain is melting.

    I love this painting it has so much movement and I feel like I can hear the water. Great stuff!

    Best wishes.

  4. Hi there Lisa!... I feel exactly the same way in the intense heat and humidity. We currently are under a severe storm/tornado watch for the area... due to these conditions. The humidex level across the river in Watertown, NY is 105. Very dangerous levels! Close to that here as well. Keeping an eye on things for the next few hours.

    Glad that you enjoyed the painting! COOOOL... in moree ways than one! HA HA!!!

    Good Painting.... Stay outta the sun!
    Coolest regards,

  5. Hi Bruce, I wish I had a cool basement; that sounds very inviting. There isn't much shade outdoors with the sun so high in the sky.

    I like both versions of the painting, but good on you for being true to yourself. It's all too easy for the comments of others to lead to self-doubt.

    Stay cool,

  6. Hi there Keith!... Decisions... decisions! An artist's life seems always to be based upon decisions, Intuition tells me to follow my heart - it seems to always know where its going!

    Thanks for visiting and for the encouraging comments. Both versions were okay by me as well. But moving past hurdles drives the creative mind doesn't it Keith.

    Am in that cool space as we speak... for the night!

    Good Painting!... and
    Coolest regards to you Keith!