Fall has most certainly arrived in The Thousand Islands region. The sharp nip in the morning air prompts many to "un-garden"... and others to close summer retreats. River traffic has dwindled down to weekends and many of the larger yachts can already be seen up on blocks... plastic-wrapped and ready for winter. Canada Geese have become noisy in the early morning and the loons more vocal as each night fades away. Hardwood trees in the area have already shown signs of their annual autumn blush. The wheel has turned.
The past weekend was to have been the 4th Annual Rockport International Paint Out. It never took place. Chalk it up to poor planning... or to the growing apathy in the painting world as a result of economic down turn. There seemed little interest to proceed with this gathering of artists. It matters little to me... whatever the cause. Life is about attitude and choices - one's own!
I had invited two good painting pals to come to the event as our house guests. Frank Edwards, of nearby Kingston has been my painting companion and friend for close to forty years. Paul Taylor and his lovely wife June of Rochester, NY are recent new friends. Paul and his clan have a camp up river a scant few kilometers and have been coming up to the river... as my family has every summer that he can remember. We share much in common... especially our passion for the river and painting.
We decided to hold our very own Rockport Paint Out anyway. The weather sure tried its darnedest to "rain on our parade"... but all of us share a similar passion for painting and a determination to do so... no matter the weather. Paul works in watercolour and acrylics and is a "newbie" to plein air painting. I think that being with me for those few times that we have painted together on location has more than convinced him of its value in "loosening up" and increasing confidence and speed of brushwork.
Day One.... "Singing in the rain..."
Deb provided a wonderful breakfast start for us... serving up plenty o' hot coffee... a delectable quiche... Canadian back bacon (pea meal) and toast with Tar Island summer resident, Jill Reynolds' homemade blackberry jam to fortify our painting spirits in the face of what appeared to be very "iffy" and highly threatening weather... right from the onset of Saturday's session. Paul searched out dry and covered niches within the village... while Frank and I headed to a site that I had scouted and gotten permission to paint near Ivy Lea. Anticipating rain before the end of our session... we were set up ... both of us with an easel leg in the trunk of my Dodge Caravan... its lid acting as a sort of roof/umbrella over us.
Even that offered us only temporary protection necessary to keep that dreaded water from our panels and palettes. Both of us were approaching the lay in stage when the driving rain out of the south east brought our painting session to an abrupt halt. Needless to say, that event dampened our dreams and actions for carry back a full painting. But it could not dampen our determination to make something positive out of the negative.... fully away from the scene a few days later. Frank successfully completed his version at his regular Tuesday morning painting group. Mine was completed yesterday... "en plein air"... outside the Gallery as visitors came and went during the afternoon.
I offer two jpegs to further demonstrate the value of actually starting a painting/sketch on site. Whether it is fully completed there, or it is completed after the fact need not take away from the freshness gained outdoors. If one compares the final outcome of this first effort to the results shown in the second painting of the weekend... I think you will agree that my stylism is maintained and is comparable in both paintings.
Called... on account of rain! At this juncture... everything in terms of structure and enough detail for the intended subject is in place. What remains is the "pushin n' pullin" ... to heighten detail and to correct value passages across the entire painting surface. I felt more than comfortable to have this information to work with further after our unplanned premature departure.
This is the point where the background information and subject information support has been completed so that the subject now sits comfortably in the composition. All that remains to be dealt with is some minor attention to the empty foreground and more attention given to the water movement and reflections.
"The Tug Blue Quail... Safely at Anchor, Ivy Lea - oil on panel 11x14 inches SOLD
Day Two .... Just another day in Paradise!
Frank had to return to Kingston on Saturday evening, so Paul and I agreed to partner up back in Ivy Lea village on Sunday morning for a plein air session before he had to head back across the river to Rochester. He had unfortunately been shut out completely the day previous... his water colour game...called because of rain and the too dark conditions of the boathouse he had set up in. Unfortunately, no plan "B" is possible for outdoor painting in watercolour on rainy days!
I again has scouted out this scene and we were automatically given permission to paint on the property by the owner of the cottage rental property by the affable EricTruesdell... known affectionately by Ivy Lea village residents as "The Mayor of Ivy Lea". His knowledge of the village and its history spans his entire lifetime of eighty plus years as a resident. Another valuable asset one gains from actually painting on site!
Though the temperature had dipped greatly and I thought might have hampered Paul's water colouring... it had little or no effect on the final outcome for either of us. We both came away with great paintings. I believe that my square cradle board sketch captures the mood and the moment during which Paul and I painted there together. I firmly believe as well... that its style quite evenly compares to the Blue Quail piece painted the previous day... half on site... and then completed fully away from the actual site... two days later.
"September Song... Ivy Lea" - oil on cradle board 12x12 inches SOLD
In concluding my post this morning... I will share that this time of the year on my River is yes... plaintive for me personally to some degree because it hearkens to the fifty odd seasons that our family closed our cottage for another season. It echoes my Mom's words spoken each year... as she stood looking out from our property towards Tar Island: "I wonder who will be opening the cottage next year?"
I watch daily as other "summer folk" stand at Andress Boat Works dock... bags behind them ... awaiting their car pick up. Their wistful last long look at the river that they too love dearly... again echoes my Mom's refrain... now present only in my memory... and pulls the strings upon my own heart. This painting... I feel.... is truly our common "September Song".
Good Painting... to All!
"The memory is the scribe of the soul."