Thursday, May 15, 2008

Nervous Nelly - Beloit Plein Aire

Watercolor, Beloit Riverside Park

I admire people who go out into parks, fields, and seashores and paint outdoors. My college roommate, a wonderful pastel artist, works outside often, and many of the artists on the Everyday Matters group seem to have the process nailed.   These folks have figured out what they need in order to capture the beauty they see around them, and how to cope with sun, wind, bugs, shifting sunlight, and curious onlookers. That said, I have never been one of these people. I am most comfortable in my converted upstairs bedroom/studio where I can listen to my iPod, grab whatever I need easily, and paint in my PJs if I want to.  I can control how quickly or slowly my paper dries, and nobody comes up to me and reminds me that the ability to do art is "A gift from God." 

However, I have been working hard lately on my drawing and painting.  I do some art pretty much every day, and I put my work in shows and online.  I have my first solo show at the local library in June, the fulfillment of a long time goal.  But recently I have been thinking that as the weather improves I want to paint outside.  Summer is glorious and relatively short in Wisconsin, and I hate to spend it sweltering inside.  Plus I just want to improve my ability to look and really see the landscape, something that isn't so easily done seated inside.

So, I entered a plein air painting event in nearby Beloit.  The Rock River runs through both Janesville and Beloit, but our southern neighbors seem to do more with their riverfront.  This will be the second year that the "Friends of Riverfront" have sponsored an open air painting event, and a friend who participated last year urged me to try.  I have been walking the area, looking at possible views, seeing where bathrooms and sources of water are located.  Yesterday I started this painting, and did OK with what I brought, though next time I'll remember a few extra brushes and a trash bag.  Only one child yelled out at me from a bridge, "WHAT'CHA DOING?"  I yelled back, "PAINTING A PICTURE,"  and he lost interest.  I didn't finish in the park though, rather completed the watercolor at home with the aid of a photo I took before I left.

Tomorrow I'm going to a one-day workshop at Beloit College for folks like me who are new to the process.  A volunteer from the Friends group left a message on my machine to bring my easel (don't have one) and two canvasses.  I think my watercolor paper will do.  I'm nervous about the whole thing, but am willing to give it a go.  I hope I'm not the only person working in watercolor there.


Sharon said...

I have the same issues about working outside that you do, Sherry. I like my creature comforts. I left a message on FLICKR about this painting, but looking at it again, I was struck by the "lost" left side of the tree that melds into the sky. It's gorgeous! I hope this is going into your show.

Sharon said...

Plus, the reflections in the water are very nicely done.

E-J said...

Amazing use of watercolour!

caseytoussaint said...

This is a beautiful piece; Sherry. I also share your diffidence about working outdoors. I've done it once in a while, but do way better in my studio.

OldOnliner said...

I think you did really well with this.

Thanks for coming down to enjoy the weekend in Beloit!