Thursday, October 29, 2009

Peel Mansion, Pratt Place Inn, Plein Aire...

Peel Mansion
Watercolor, 12 1/2" x 9"
S. Waterford, cold press, rough

Well, I finally got around to photographing these paintings. The painting above is the viewpoint I had while participating in the first annual Peel Mansion Paint-out held in Bentonville, AR, (click on 'Peel Mansion' in the archives for details). My original plein air painting was pitiful. But I try not to let that discourage me. I know from what I read by noted plein air artists that I should look at my plein airs as a 'study', to be finished in the studio. That relieves me from the burden of thinking every painting must be finished on site or must be a success. I'm then able to relax and enjoy the painting process and also not even mind if someone is looking over my shoulder, expecting a decent painting (well actually, this still bothers me somewhat), or wants to see my painting after I finish (most of the time I throw them in the car before anyone can see them!). I myself know, that over time and with much much practice, my 'got luckys' will come with more frequency and that it will ultimately take years before I will be doing the majority of my 'keepers' entirely on site. This painting was produced using my sketches and original, plus photo references. Notice the possum in the cage at the lower right. I couldn't resist putting him in (I think I spoke of him in my original post on the Peel Mansion Paint-out). I kept glancing at him the whole time I was painting. Then the groundskeepers came and took him away, hopefully to release him in a new safe location. I think the scale is off on my figure. Need to work on this - it's something I've always had problems with.

Pratt Place Inn
Watercolor, 10" x 13 3/4"
Saunders Waterford,
300 gms (140 lb.) cold press, rough

This was my viewpoint at Pratt Place Inn. As for the 'imaginary' figures I placed in the painting (sorry they're hard to see in this image-I placed them in the furniture on the porch), I think here I was more successful with them being in scale than the Peel Mansion figure. My struggle with this painting was the foreground shadows on the flagstone. I really wanted to capture the dappled sunlight among the shadow area, but after three attempts, I thought I'd give it a rest and try again later. I don't use projectors to sketch my preliminary drawings, so it can be time consuming (at least for me) for an architectural drawing such as this one. Sketching and re-sketching allows me to become more intimate with the subject, while also giving me the opportunity to improve my drawing skills, which is something I feel that one never achieves, much like art in general. As for intimacy, it always amazes me how much sketching refreshes my memory, it puts me 'there' again, as well as sparking new ideas regarding my approach to the painting.

Pratt Place Inn was a fun place to paint. I was immediately intrigued by the old dead tree shown in my painting. Other than its obvious sculptural interest, I thought, this must be one of the original, if not the only, tree left from the time this house was built back in the late l800's. I also wondered what the house itself must have looked like before it was refurbished.

Another subject which I was very interested in was the small cottage on the grounds as one drives up the private drive to the inn. It had a mysterious European quality as it sat half-hidden among the trees that reminded me of all my old Daphne Du Maurier and Victoria Holt Gothic romance novels. I took some reference pics of it for a future painting.

I'll probably attempt this painting again, because I'm not satisfied with it totally (are we ever??), but other painting subjects are piling up so I feel the need to move on for the time being.

Yesterday, PAPO (Plein Air Painters of the Ozarks) painted at West Fork park and can I say IT WAS FREEZING!! I did not dress warm enough and chose to paint by the river's bank, which of course was all the more chilly. I had fun though and really needed the practice of painting rushing water. The wind gusts were threatening to send my painting and easel airborne into the river, so I held it down with my knees as I painted.
There were good subjects to paint - walkers, bluffs, the distant mountains (which seem to have passed their peak with the fall foliage by the way), a bridge, some mini waterfalls on the bluffs, and even a couple of horseback riders paid a visit. They brought back memories of my riding days...aah, the countryside is sure grand. It does a sole good to visit, if only for a short time.

I heard that the Ft. Smith Arts Center's Plein Air Competition was a success. That's good to hear. Plein Air competitions seem to be catching on in the area. I heard there was some really good work produced in the competition. Well, that's all for now, until next time, hang in there, set goals, take care and enjoy your art...