There is nothing like taking some time, just for yourself, to get out of the studio and enjoying the camaraderie of other artists in a plein air event. The Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association and Art Center hosted their September Plein Air Paint Out this past weekend where approximately 25 artists painted outside all around the town of Blue Ridge, high in the north Georgia Mountains.
I was lucky enough to hang out with my fellow artists and friends’, Karen Margulis and Marsha Savage at Marsha’s cabin.
I started painting Friday morning. I found this old barn on the side of the road with some hay bales inside. Luckily, I was able to pull over, park and paint undisturbed.
I had pre mounted a few 9 x 12, and 11 x 14 UArt papers on acid free foam core and painted the entire surface with a warm gray tint, using very watered down house paint (a trick I learned from Karen).
After a quick lunch, all the artists grouped at Mercier Orchards, for the “Quick Draw”. Mercer is one of the largest apple orchards in Georgia, selling all varieties of fresh apples and fruits, local goods and the best award winning, fried fruit pies!
After a blast of the horn, all the artist had one hour to paint. I picked a scene from across the street, a grouping of trees that had some nice shadow patterns and lighting. I purposely picked something that wasn’t too complicated, and that I could complete quickly. About 1/2 hour into it, I struggled. I thought I could never hand this in for it was a complete mess! I think I was trying too hard to make a great painting and it just wasn’t working. So, I figured what the hell, I’ll just let the marks fly and have fun….it couldn’t get any worse. By the end of the hour, it surprisingly, came together. A good thing too, for time was up and I hurriedly inserted it into a frame. And wouldn’t you know it, it ended up winning first place! Funny, how that is!
One thing I learned about plein air painting….it’s hit or miss. It’s a difficult process to get your intention down on the surface with the correct color, values, and stroke making while dealing with constantly changing light, the roasting sun or misty rain, while gnats and stinging insects buzz around your head. That said, there is nothing like it to bring that sense of atmosphere and sense of place to your landscapes. So, I try going into it with the intention of learning, making studies, improving my painting chops by observing true color, light and value. If you make a good painting, that’s a huge bonus.
Here is my other painting.
A very nice local couple invited us to paint at their multi acre property. Backyard View was painted from behind their residence.
All in all, a very fun event! It was great seeing old friends and meeting new artists, as well as taking the time to just paint.