Sunday

I headed back to the Clark because it was my last chance to see the installation of Jennifer Steinkamp’s video works. I was sorry I hadn’t gone earlier but I’m so glad I didn’t miss it. It wasn’t what I was expecting for some reason and it was hard not to keep watching the wall-size works. Two really grabbed me – Diaspora which started as as interesting composition of branches and things and then they began to move through the virtual space, running into the boundaries of the walls and corners and breaking into lots of small parts (the description mentioned the dispersal of spores) and then reversing path and gathering up again into a composition. The other, Blind Eye, was a head-on view of birch tree trunks that light played over and then a rotation of seasons, dropping leaves, slowly then quickly, moving and swaying with wind, budding and forming catkins and leafing out and then yellowing and dropping the leaves again.

I had thought to do some painting but as I set out from the car it was very misting so I stopped at the closest picnic table ready to dash back to the car.

Then I tried one that showed the scene more accurately and the sun came out.

Then I thought about going up the hill, stopped at the bottom to do a really quick sketch and it began to rain. Went and had dinner with Mom instead.

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Day Four, En Plein Air

Today as we were scoping out views at the top of the hill Bob, our teacher, suggested that I should try something with something in the fore and mid ground rather than just long views. So I picked a spot where the crest of the hill had a tree perched on it and then it dropped away to some pretty color trees and then the rolling hills of (turns out) Vermont. I did a sketch in my smaller sketchbook and then decided to just redo it with better placement on bigger paper and have at.

I know I could add more leafy areas but I’m mostly ok with it the way it is.

We did have some moments of sunshine which really lit up the world, like these birch trees. Hopefully more of that tomorrow.

In this life, so much of what we cannot control is caustic. The intrusive things we see, hear and smell make their way into our lives on a regular basis. If a painting can take you away from the crap out there, and help you scrape the day away, that’s appeal.
— Gail Griffiths

Being An Artist and Why Moms Rock

Tonight after we messaged our good nights, I get a message from Mom with a link

6 Ways to Balance Your Day Job
with Being an Artist

It tells of a doctor who also teaches pastel classes and how he combines his work life with making art, in six ways. I’m going to list them here but do read the article for his details. I was so touched by Mom sending me this link and also pretty happy because some of these things I have been figuring out on my own and they’re true! The article discusses these:

1. Do 20- to 30-minute timed studies, without prep work.
2. Always have a palette and painting gear ready to go.
3. Keep painting clothes in the car.
4. Learn to love what’s local.
5. Teach or join a class.
6. Set goals and clear intentions.

1. I used a timer when I quilted both to keep on task and to keep from over-doing and causing injury. Painting, I’m trying to get started sooner, more directly, and do more shorter/smaller paintings. I tend to get too fussy and stopping sooner and staying simpler is a continuing theme.

Sketching in scene at OOMs

2. Gear is in the car and has been for awhile. Recently I moved from an LLBean type tote bag to a backpack and upgraded my tripod. My goal was to simplify my gear – it’s way too easy to bring way too much stuff – to make it easier to go a little distance more easily. The tripod fits into a side pocket of the pack and a couple clips take care of my folding chair. Having it all in the car though means I can stop on the way home or after an errand or I can grab out a sketchbook and small palette and brushes and just go do something. I would add to this: have some duplication of gear if you can so that you don’t have to take everything out of the car if you want to work at home.

3. I don’t keep painting clothes in the car except for big brimmed hat and my hiking boots. My work clothes are pretty casual though and I’d wear them anyway. (I do keep a couple t-shirts in there in case I get called to a current-events type rally/protest)

4. This came up in class today, that you can spend a lot of time driving around looking for places to paint or you can just figure out to paint in your yard and spend the time painting. Although I have painted a little in the front yard lately, I have figured out a few places along my travels and not too far from home to go and paint. I can choose based on light conditions or where I’m going but it saves a lot of time. I figure if Monet could paint a cathedral multiple times I could find something to paint at my local pond or master the geraniums. I do try to take alternate routes when traveling to scout out new places to paint.

5. I can say that I’ve enjoyed each watercolor class I’ve taken locally. I’ve been encouraged and supported and learned stuff. And, even more importantly, it is a commitment to spend time doing this. Side bonus: people think you’re more serious if you say you’re taking a class and that’s ok too.

6. I don’t know if I have set goals exactly but I’m sort of going with – what’s the point of waiting? Do it now.

Bonus: Buy flowers and fruit to paint and use the cats as models. Thanks Mom!

Wednesday of Plein Air Week II

The class arrayed on the hill above the Clark

Today we walked calmly up the hill behind The Clark (two of us wisely bringing our stuff with us because we knew we weren’t going up and down and back up again!) and we painted as the clouds came and went and light played on the hills. The only logistical problem of this hill is that it’s a cow pasture and as such has a lot of cow patties so you have be a little careful walking but more importantly you can’t just plop your bag and stuff down any old place. Just sayin’. Sometimes it has cows in it too.

I did not overlook any cow pies today. I found a place between some trees to stash my backpack. I did manage to pick up some nice quin gold deep on my sweater sleeve which I was able to get mostly out using a wet rag that was handy. One of the times that using a water-soluble paint is an advantage.

I thought I’d start out today doing a sketchbook painting before doing a flat paper thing. Too fussy. So I tried to work simpler with each piece and that was pretty successful.

Day One, Plein Air

I’m doing a week-long plein air class with Bob Lafond via IS183 and The Clark over in Williamstown. Last time you’ll recall I was out and around Berkshire County on brutally hot summer mornings. Today was cold and damp and misty. But! We had a tent to be under so all was well.

I’m the lone watercolorist in a small group of oil painters but the pre-paint-pep talk was good and reviewed the basics – block in areas, shapes not objects, limit the palette, maybe do a value sketch first. So that’s where I started, in paint, in grey.

We’d talked about chasing light – if you take too long painting outside, eventually the light changes enough that you should start again. This was my second, much quicker painting of the scene shortly before packing up. The clouds were lowering and the mist was coming in.

Tomorrow we’ll be inside looking at drawings done outside and doing some sketching from the Clark’s collection.

For all your days prepare,
And meet them ever alike:
When you are the anvil, bear
When you are the hammer, strike.
— Edwin Markham

Prepping the palettes

Today was the day I sat down with my two “travel” palettes to refill and reorganize. I will be doing a week of plein air over at the Clark at the beginning of October so this will give them a little time to set up and behave. I’m waiting for the Fed Ex guy to arrive with my new tripod, having realized the other night the head on the other one wasn’t working right – it looks like it’s missing a part. It works but doesn’t lock the plate in place. So here’s to v.2.

My goal today is to get it all into a backpack. Come on Fed Ex guy!

Painter…

I signed up for another weeklong painting class (not just watercolor – do your own medium, but plain air with some bonus stuff from The Clark) through IS183.org. October 1 is too early for real snow, right?

The painter of the future will be a colorist in a way no one has been before. — Vincent van Gogh