My dream plein air day is to go out and whip up a great bunch of paintings effortlessly to the oohs and ahs of passers-by, hand out my business cards, answer all their questions while tossing off one terrific painting after another. It certainly wasn't going to happen today! This morning I tried to channel an artist, Kelly Medford, who runs around Rome painting like mad. Her energy and enthusiasm are inspirational and thought if I could latch onto that I could have a great painting day. Every now and then I have a terrific day plein airing but it's been a while and I never know "when" it will be a good painting day in the field or when the paint will fight me. It sure looked like it would be a successful day, light was right, supplies efficiently packed so easy to transport, I had scouted out the area the day before so off I went. As I set up it still felt good but from then on it was all a mess. The wind picked up so stuff went flying at every intermittent gust my disposable palette folded over on itself so the blue and orange merged along with other odd mixes until I got it all clipped down. The gusts eventually turned into a force 10 gale as the front moved in faster than predicted and clouds erased the light. Right after I got all set up I realized I'd left a very important color back at the studio and my tube of yellow ochre was not going to open. So a little frustrated I jabbed my palette knife into the side to make a hole for the paint to come out and it did and of course it got all over everything for the rest of the day. Just as I finally settled in and got a good start one of those annoying yappy dogs, the small ones that women carry around like an accessory came around the corner but didn't see me so it was startled which sent it into a frenzy of high pitched barking and snarling. Of course Ms Trendy had earphones in and just kept going with only a slight sneering back glance. Shortly after this quiet little corner burst to life with joggers, more dogs being walked wanting to plant their noses in my wet palette, kids in strollers or on foot, mostly nice people, some commented most thankfully left me alone. But they probably did so because they could see the train wreck of a painting I was doing and probably felt bad or quietly wished me luck. Onward I went quietly painting while inside me I was yelling "Yes, I can paint...really...I've been doing it for longer than most of you have been alive..I can do it, just not today". I trucked along until this mornings mega dose of coffee kicked in as well as some other curious twinges that made it imperative I find a restroom. Always one of the most important things when plein airing. Reminds me of another less-than-successful outdoor painting moments in a park where I was sitting on the steps of a building and dozens of people came up to ask me if it was a bathroom. At one point Mr. & Mrs. 65-70 yr old Midwest America came up to me in their matchy matchy outfits. She asked if it was a restroom to which I, with sincere regret, said no it isn't. So the woman says "Hon, just go in the bushes" and he did next to me just around the corner! I packed up quickly (then and today) to go in search of a facility which of course was blocks away. Turns out last night's left overs should have been left alone.
Good grief what happened? It all started out so well! I did get a couple hours of work done for which you will never see the result...if you can call it that. Flumoxed I sat in the park for a while to ponder why does it work sometimes and not others. The one revelation I had was the times I've done well are when I'm not in a high traffic area. I read the fabulous Plein Air Magazine and see wonderful paintings of gorgeous places and fantasize that the artists just roll out of their studios and into the wild and come back with marvelous pieces. My favorite stories are those who go out on horse back for days and days of camping and painting. At least I have enough presence of mind to know I can't do that no matter how much I want to...it's really the solitude I'm after. First I can't even get on a horse, second I'd be wicked sore from riding and in all that solitude I'd probably be eaten by a mountain lion but at least I wouldn't have someone relieving himself in the bushes next to me or some ridiculous yappy dog to deal with!
Something good had to come out of this effort so made my way to a fabulous Creperie and had a spectacular lunch, then headed home to the comfort of the studio, which was a wreck so I ended up cleaning! Tomorrow should, I hope, be a much better day.