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Barn Study and a Field at Berry Springs

November 26, 2012

Professional plein air painters travel a lot, and they paint in many different places, so one could say that what I’m doing (travelling and painting) isn’t all that unusual.  Except that I don’t consider myself a Plein Air Painter.  And for us, the travel comes first, and the painting is a by-product.  (Referring to painting as a “by-product” could open up a major discussion, but hopefully you won’t get all philosophical on me, and just accept the comment the way I meant it.)

When we started on this adventure, the idea was to do the travelling we’d always wanted to do, and paint along the way.  If some of the sketches and paintings were documentary, recording what we’d seen along the way, then so much the better.  Unlike artists of the past, I’ve relied on reference photographs instead of onsite sketches.  This has allowed me to document such things as the boat house at Caddo Lake, some of Nell’s family history with  The Hess Farm and First Home, historic places like  old Gettysburg, and places we just found interesting and picturesque, like Pennsylvania Dutch Country and the St. Helena III.

I do venture out when we’ve stopped somewhere for a while, and carry the old french easel down to a nearby place of interest.  And the opportunities I’ve had to paint with artist friends have been priceless.  But I am not a born-again plein air painter.  As winter approaches here in Texas, I’m adding to -and organizing – my reference photos.  When the temperature gets below 60 degrees, I’m headed inside, with no apologies.  There is no pair of gloves with the fingertips cut off in my future.

Barn Study at Berry Springs, 8×10, Gouache (Plein Air)

In the middle of November, we relocated from Pearland (Houston), Texas to Georgetown, Texas near Austin.   This barn sits on the property next to the Berry Springs RV Park, just outside of Georgetown.  It was a beautiful day, much too nice to stay inside.  So I wandered down to a spot under a huge spreading oak tree, across the fence line from this old beauty.  I may do a couple more studies of this old structure and the adjoining fields while we’re here.

Field Study at Berry Springs, 8×10, Gouache (Plein Air)

Across the road from the RV Park is a gate into Berry Springs Park, a nature preserve maintained presumably by the City of Georgetown.  This is the back side of the park, with a pedestrian gate that leads to walking trails.  We’ve only ventured a short distance so far.  On this particular day, I hiked over and only went part way along a trail to find this view across the fields.  All I wanted to do in this case was to record what I saw: a stand of trees that marked a change in the topography; the suggestion of heavy grasses in the foreground, the dried field beyond; and the distant tree line.

I have good intentions about going farther into the park, either from this side, or driving around to the main entrance.  Aside from two burros who make this their home, there is supposed to be a creek and some stone trestles, the remains of an old bridge.

For now, the barn and the field are a start.  Tomorrow I’m pulling out some reference photos.

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