8x10 inch watercolor on Crescent board
The Beloit plein air event has begun. Painters have a week, June 6-13, to paint and put together up to two framed pieces for a contest and sale. Unfortunately for inexperienced wimps like myself, we are in the middle of a week of thunderstorms and high winds. I'm learning new things every day. For example, Friday I took advantage of a break in the weather to take several watercolor sheets and pieces of Crescent illustration board to registration to be stamped "Edge of the Rock Plein Air." All canvases and papers must be stamped before starting to work. It was 85 degrees and very humid, and for the first time this season I was perspiring enough to wish I had wee windshield wipers on my eyeglasses. Here's what I learned: antiperspirant, applied to the forehead will stop the steady drip. Strange but true.
Saturday I packed all my gear and headed to Riverside Park to stake out a spot. I had scouted a couple a couple weeks ago. The spot with the tree in the river that I thought was so charming had been altered, the felled tree carted away. Further along, the spot I had tried before also had been changed, several trees along the water cut down. At least the water in the park had been turned on, so I didn't need to dip my water bucket in the Rock River. When I tried painting outside previously I had real problems with my papers and palette blowing around. This time I came prepared with lots of butterfly clips, a big improvement. But I couldn't believe how quickly colors dried on the palette, almost instantly, it seemed. My experiment in trying to do a watercolor monoprint on illustration board that had worked so well in my studio was a flop. I couldn't control the dampness on the surface of the Crescent board, so that when I lifted the acrylic plate all I had was speckles for about two hours work. So I tried overpainting with limited success. Here's what I learned: I need little plastic containers of prepared paint that won't evaporate on the spot. I also learned that sometimes the best part of working outside doesn't have much to do with painting. My favorite parts of the morning were seeing a little girl squeal with delight at catching her first fish, and seeing a slender garter snake hurrying through the grass. It was fun listening to the graduation ceremonies at Memorial High School, across the river, too.
My afternoon was even less successful in an artistic sense, though I found a spot behind a coffee shop where I was a little out of the wind. What I learned: it's nice to be near a bathroom and a source of caffeine.
It looks like more storms are on the way today, so I think I'll consider how to paint rainy weather.