Monday, August 16, 2010

The Plein Air Workshop

At first, I approached this weekend with some trepidation . . . not because of the new students nor the spontaneous on-site painting, but because of the 100 degree plus temperatures that had been predicted for these two days. But the five of us, four watercolor participants and myself, showed up with brushes in hand anyway.

First, we toured the lovely, cool (at that time) grounds projecting where we'd comfortably locate and what we'd like for subject matter. As best we could we considered where and how the sun would move during the day so as not to get placed in direct sun! I'd chosen the shade of the buildings, looking across at the contrast-y white gazebo against the lush shadowed greens (you know I'm a fan of strong contrast!) for my demo. I got the basic yellows and blues, to separate the foreground and background, then started going very dark (can't help myself).

The remainder of the day was traveling around from each working artist to artist. Each of them worked diligently and I'd make suggestions, but mostly compliments. These artists were all invested in their work and some launching into Plein Air for their first time. And they did a darn good job! I was honored, in that one of them was even a watercolor instructor . . . I wondered what could I teach him . . . but I just have learned to trust the Universe with her wisdom in the out comings of all (well, almost all) things.

We all worked til just around 12:30pm, when we'd agreed to stop and meet for lunch and a short sharing. Just at the moment one of the resorts sprinklers turned on and spattered two of my participants. That certainly put an end to their painting sessions and we dabbed them off and got settled into a dry spot for the gentle critique/sharing.

Most everyone realized something positive and individual about their perspective and what they brought to their painting. Some were gutsy with color, some were meek and sensitive with delicate washes and others were bold with new pigments. All brave souls who ventured into new experiences and still had some time to put in to complete their pieces . . . but successful in their efforts! And you know, we didn't even notice the day starting to heat up til around 1:30. We'd beat the heat, at least for Saturday!

Next morning, Sunday, Mother Nature had blessed us with cloud cover, keeping the morn near chilly. I was grateful and optimistic for the day ahead. With a smaller group than the previous day, the group was more intimate and located within each others site. This time, I wanted to let the artists get settled into their chosen positions and start their sketches. This way I could assist with suggestions and/or ideas early on. Once they a "beginning" down, I called them over for my brief demo. I'd chosen the canna flowers in front of the white bridge crossing the pond.
This more quiet day, blanketed by cooling clouds seemed to magnify the nature around us. Or was it we were more attuned to it the second day. Around the pond we watched the miracle of these water lilies, puckered tightly in a bud when we first got settled, opening moment by moment wide into these magnificent blossoms!!

Later in the day, as some blue sky began to poke out thru the clouds, we noticed this giant frog! First he was hiding in the reeds, but later, provided us picturesque shots. Like this one next to the lily pads and the real tender sight of him later, opening up his padded little toes to rub his face like he was smoothing his cheek. He was fascinating! Have I told you about my fondness for frogs? Well, perhaps that's another post.

Because we were such a small, intimate group, we decided there was no need for a critique. We'd pretty much spent the day watching one another's progress already. So, casually we munched our lunches and then gathered up our workings.
It was rather sadly sweet to end the weekend, having felt like we'd woven this sweet little painters community in just these few hours.

It set me to pondering what it would be like to live in an artists community like so many artist legendaries have . . . now wouldn't THAT be magical? Think about it . . .

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