Being a pet portrait artist, I am in the studio more often than not when I paint. I have been wanting to experience plein air painting now for quite some time. I guess I caught the bug to do this when Chestnut Group member Kim Barrick came to give a talk at the Tennessee Art League in Nashville, TN a year and a half ago. I never seemed to find the time to do this, until my husband and I went to Taylor Park, CO about 9,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains. I had thrown in the acrylics and a couple of canvases, so that my aunt (my aunt and uncle met us up there) and I could try it. Neither of us had ever done this, so it was definitely uncharted territory. There is no humidity there, so it was interesting at first to get the paint to the canvas, as acrylics dry quickly anyway. Needless to say, we were proud of our first little plein air paintings!
Then, in March, a good friend and I were invited to a plein air paint out put on by the Tennessee Watercolor Society. I went with pastels this time, and it was wonderful to be out in the fresh, albeit chilly Spring air. The old shed and flowers I painted was not bad either. My friend Ann and I offered to host them to a paint out on the Natchez Trace Parkway in June. They heartily accepted the invitation.
Now, to June 14, 2008. The paint out was scheduled for 9am at the Garrison Creek stop of the Parkway. It rained all night, and the skies were pretty grim. Thunder rolled a couple of times at 6:30am. I packed up the gear anyway. We had discussed cancelling the event the night before, but we decided since there is a pavillion, we could at least paint the hills and trees. At 9, the skies were trying to brighten a bit, so we headed up to the Trace, and met Bitsy and Noriko from the Plein Air Nashville and Tennessee Watercolor Society groups. We painted under the pavillion, chatted with cyclists coming in from the short-lived showers, and had a really great time. Other artists slowly made their way in, and everyone painted the beautiful scenery. When the skies parted after lunch, we made our way down to the creek and painted along side the gently rolling waters. Needless to say, painting nature is terrific! If you decide to do this, make sure you have bug spray!
As an artist, plein air painting is a great experience. I feel it can only enhance the creative process, even when you get back to the studio. Happy painting to all!