Number 49 (Plein Air)
I have become quite the weather-watcher in the last few weeks, mainly to keep tabs on when it’s likely to freeze. Frozen hoses and pipes are no more fun in a motorhome than they are in a sticks-and-bricks house. It’s also helpful to be forewarned about what temperature to set the furnace thermostat on. All that is simply to say that I knew today was going to be a beautiful warm day here in Roanoke.
I putzed around a bit this morning, wrote a blog post, then selected a reference photo that would be nice to paint. As I was getting the tabletop easel out, a little voice said “Come outside… paint and enjoy the sunshine…” So I poured a cup of coffee and stepped out on the patio, checked the view from there, then strolled down the street a few yards and looked between the RVs and mobile homes along the edge of the park. I finally decided to break the neighbors in easy by just painting right beside my own motorhome.
I’ll admit I’ve left a few items out of this little plein air painting, like a barbecue grill, a bicycle leaning against the wall, and a couple of other items. I really intended to include them, but the clock was ticking and the shadows were moving.
It was right around mid-day (11am) by the time I got the easel set up and paint squeezed out on the palette. This is how far I got in an hour and a half. Surprisingly, no one approached me the entire time I was painting. Several people drove by, but no one came by on foot.
Here are a couple more shots of the setup next to the motorhome:
We haven’t put out any chairs or other outdoor living stuff yet (chairs, etc), and may not. This was the best day we’ve had since settling in here, and now the next day, as I’m writing this, the temperature is back down in the 40s, the sky is overcast, and to be honest, it’s much more comfortable back inside.
This was the view I was working with, and at midday, the shadows were moving fast.
My current plein air setup: a Richeson french easel, an oil painters turps cup for water, and a coated paper plate for a mixing palette. The previous palette was just too big, both for the easel and for storage in the motorhome. The paper plate works okay, but the round shape is awkward, and a slight breeze will turn it into a frisbie. I’ll find something in the folding plastic style that will work.
What was important to me here was that I was trying to force myself to use more opaque paint. Typically, when I work outdoors, I tend to work too wet, which doesn’t give me the brushwork I get in the studio. I did notice also that the air was just cool enough to cause the paint to dry really quickly on the palette.
Mostly, it just felt really good to stand out in the sunshine and paint.