I am having a day off today. After 4 days (..well four x half days to be honest) of working outside I am even more in admiration of plein air painters, especially those who actually work on finished pieces in situ. It is hard work, tiring and with endless annoyances.
Firstly just finding your spot, in sun or out of the sun and should your paper/canvas be in or out of shadow. Getting all your equipment out and set up, balancing it and yourself on stools, easels, benches or just on the ground. There are bugs, there are people, there are leaf blowers and mowers. If it’s windy things get blown over and there is glare from the sun and moving shadows which means that the scene has changed completely within an hour.. then there is forgetting something vital ..like a paintbrush or a pencil or a favourite colour… the list of reasons for not painting outside goes on and on.
But what you do get is a real connection with what you are attempting to paint, even if it all ends in frustration and with little to show. I have worked outside at various times in my artistic life but I have always found it difficult to concentrate and that is because I don’t do enough of it. By day four I was enjoying it more. I certainly think that if you want to paint any of nature’s details you MUST at some point go out there and draw from the real thing, or write notes, record colours or scribble or something. You can’t see what happens around a corner or behind a tree, or feel the texture of tree bark or smell the scent of a champaka, in a photo..
I was spurred into doing this by meeting Brenda and Dennis both plein air painters who paint in the gardens from time to time.
Fortuitously Brenda has an exhibition at Leu Gardens as this very moment, “Windows to My World” so I can still have a painting of the Gardens on the blog without doing any of the work! Marvellous.. so here is Brenda’s lovely little painting of the path to the White Garden, the view I also sketched on Tuesday. I know she painted this from from life as I had met her that day October the 16th to be precise.
White Garden at Leu Gardens by Brenda Hofreiter
You can see more of her paintings of Florida and a great photo of her with a bird on her head here.. http://www.brendahofreiter.com/abouttheartist.html . I must ask her how she got that bird to do that.
The exhibition continues until 11th February.