Monday, May 11, 2009

Peel Mansion Paint-Out

I was so excited about going to the Peel Mansion and Heart of America Artists' Assoc.'s Plein Air Rendevous, but became sick that first morning and had to miss the rest of the event! What are the odds? Bummer. Anyway, it looked like they had a great turn-out for their 1st one. I know there were 40 people pre-registered a few days before the event and people could also register the morning of the 1st day. It was a beautiful thing to see all the artists scattered across the lawn in front of the old house with their easels, going to work on their paintings. There were also other historical landmarks in Bentonville including Compton Gardens participating, so artists were in different areas. This was the first time for me to attend a plein air event so I was very disappointed to have to miss out, but just being there for that short time was very productive for me. I really enjoyed it while I was there and in that very short span of time, it's amazing how much I learned via my mistakes while painting that morning. My favorite quote for years has been "The more you know, the more you know you don't know" (Aristotle). My painting was a disaster, but I learned a LOT from every mistake I made like:

  • Don't for one second on my first attempt at a paint-out think I'm going to finish within the time allotted for myself. Mainly because people are everywhere; coming up to you to introduce themselves, take photos, etc., and being intimidated because painting around 'others' is so new to me, and not accustom to having someone/people looking over my shoulder, I would STOP, visit with them, and wait for them to meander on before swinging back into gear. Lost a lot of time, not to mention focused energy on the task at hand doing this, but closer to the end, I wasn't even looking at the person speaking to me; was so into my painting (and becoming aware of a sunburn) that I kept painting furiously, realizing I had gone over the 2 hours I had allowed myself by almost an hour. I should be used to this as it happened all the time in the studio classroom. But that's just the thing, it was a classroom, everyone knew each other, we were all in the same boat, and were not being viewed by the 'outside'. Now I AM on the outside and this very issue has been another hurdle for me to overcome painting en plein air. But now I've done it, it wasn't so bad, I can't worry what by-standers may say or think about my painting and I'm ready to move on!
  • Yes, I know what you were thinking when I mentioned 'sunburn'. Why did you set up where the sun would hit you? Don't you know to set up in the shade if you don't have an umbrella? And don't you want to take advantage of the cast shadows that would enhance the structure of the focal point? Well, my reason in doing so is because I wanted to paint the 'backlit' side of the house, like Zbukvic suggests, and I found a great view that no one else had chosen (can't imagine why). All the other painters were out on the front lawn. There were only three of us in the back, a guy over in a shaded corner, a very sweet looking older lady with an umbrella along the sidewalk, who looked like she had done this many times before; her painting of a water pump among the flowers was coming along nicely, and me, just outside a shaded area wishing it was closer. Oh yeah, along with a possum that had been captured overnight in a trap. A guy told me they were having 'squirrel problems', but of course they caught a possum instead. Felt sorry for the little guy, wanted to let him go. He looked sleepy, and he was in the nice cool shade of the house...I digress, anyway, I'll know next time that I'm too much of a novice to think I can paint faster than the sun. Actually, just so you don't think I'm a total idiot, several people that came by thought I had chosen a great view, even though it was eventually in the blazing sun. One lady that came by close to the end of my venture, when the sun was beating down on me said "Oh my, you out there in the full sun!" Then after coming over to my side and turning around to see my subject matter implied "I see now why you're here. This is a great view!" This was the view I chose to paint:
The dappled sunlight on the walkway and foreground grass was really nice, and the white of the banister patterns, columns, and porch ceiling was casting some beautiful pale blue shadows. The weather was perfect, nice and cool, until I was in the sun. I was planning to just make the corner of the banister and porch the focal point until the artist came along later and set up her easel. It made for a great painting. Will have to re-do this one for sure, but place the artist a little to the left. She's too dead-center don't you think? Actually, I think she looks best right where she is, think I'll leave her there. I definitely plan on returning to get in practice with my plein air painting.
  • As far as my actual painting went, I over-worked it, crossed the line of no return in watercolor, was getting sick, physically and emotionally, was sunburned and frustrated that I ruined a potentially decent painting (nothing new, I do that a lot), but I learned so much as I painted and have mentally gone over what I need to do differently next time I paint this scene.
And even more importantly, I met some new artists (another thing, I really need to get out more). There was also a group of painters from Ft. Smith there, and most importantly, got some new information on a Plein Air group in the area. That was probably the most productive thing I could have achieved for the whole event. I do wish I had taken some photos of the artists on the lawn, as one day that would have been a significant photo, being the 1st annual Plein Air Rendezous for Peel Mansion. And it would have been a great photo. I had planned on getting photos later, as I thought I would be back the next morning, however, I felt so bad by Fri. morning, went straight to the doctor, then home to bed where I stayed all weekend. Thanks to some strong antibiotics, I'm feeling much better now, and looking forward to more paint-outs in the near future. As soon as I find an update on the Peel Mansion/Mid-American Artist's Assoc. Paint-out with the winners etc., I'll post a link to it. I'll be out-of-pocket for a couple of weeks. I'm supposed to leave next week to Arizona for my great niece's high school graduation. CONGRATS SHANTE, and best wishes to a bright future (see you soon) !!!

Until then, the following is something dedicated to all mothers out there, with a special note to Shante's mother, Felicia, a great Mom indeed. Gertrude Kasebier is one of my favorite Master Artists and the first time I saw this photo, it had a profound affect on me. My youngest daughter had left the nest, and this photo said it all. It also reminded me of my oldest daughter's 1st day of school...

To Felicia, and all Mothers, I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day!

Blessed Art Thou Among Women,
Gertrude Kasebier, c1899


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