Sunday, June 5, 2011

Plein Air Painting, Day 1

The first day of my new painting life ...

I get up at 5:00 a.m. to be at University Heights for the early light.  I get up this early about twice a decade, but this is my new life.  The car does not start.  AAA arrives, eventually, and jumps the battery.  The dome light is on, but we can't turn it off.  AAA has a solution - rip it out.  It is in my ash tray.  I arrive at University Heights at 10:30 a.m.  The sun is overhead, the light is flat.

There is nothing but parallel parking in University Heights.  The spaces are five feet long.  I don't parallel park.  There are parking meters in University Heights.  I have two pennies and a 1 Euro that Jen gave me in my wallet.  I find a spot in front of a garage driveway, but the drive has a trailer parked in it that has flat tires. They are more than flat; they are vented.  I figure no one is going in or out.  

My parking spot is at the bottom of a very long hill.  The rest of the California Art Club is painting at the top of the hill.  I decide to paint right there, in front of my garage.  After all, a good artist can make anything work.  The light is flat anyway.

Wind.  Wind, wind, wind.  I tape; I weight; I bungee.  I hold the umbrella with my left hand while I paint with my right.  My umbrella is vented, but I realize that the only venting that would work in this wind would be to slash the umbrella to bits.

I paint; I isolate; I relate.  It's working.  The painting looks great.  I feel great.  I am finished in time for the critique.  The wind is not finished.  My easel rises two feet into the air.  The palette flies one way and slides down the front of me.  The easel somersaults backward into the street.  The turp jar spouts like a geyser and empties on my painting.  Poor easel.  It is ripped in two at the hinges.  Poor painting.  It is a meaningless puddle.

I skip the critique.


All of you should paint en plein air more often.  It is good for you.

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