Plein air painting conjures up romantic images of artists standing in warm colour drenched meadows on bright sunny days, happily painting and smiling without a care in the world. It can happen like that, but more often than not we brave the elements—gales of wind arising from nowhere tossing canvas just as we are about to make THE stroke—or mosquitoes and midges embedding themselves into our wet paintings and eating us alive at the same time. The sudden hailstorms, unwelcome skunks or worse, onlookers wanting to chat. But even with all these deterrents out we go, ready to embrace whatever nature chooses to throw our way.
The urge of a winter sky and white deep (really deep) snow came over me yesterday and I had to get out. What I hate about winter outside is how long it takes to dress for it. To make matters worse, after bundling up with wool hat, big down- to –ankles- sleeping bag coat, wool shawl wrapped over my head and hat, backpack, painting board and gear, I went to slip on my snow boots only to find a hole! But I was bound and determined to get out there and spotted my partner’s huge black Frankenstein-looking boots so on they went-I figured he wouldn’t mind since he wasn’t home. Out we finally trudged and what a vision –my huge bundle of blackness along the white winter path accompanied by my canine entourage.
I should have known it was to be one of those days that did not want to abide.
The massive boots were so heavy that every step through that dense snow was like lifting an elephant. And when I finally made it to the hill that I wanted to paint from, I opened my gear just as the dogs were wrestling near by so everything was immediately covered with snow. Then when I turned to pick up my paint board that had fallen over I lost my footing and fell—rolling down the hill, finally stopping—but couldn’t get up! There I lay like a Goodyear blimp, captured by the snow, flailing my arms and trying to lift my legs but the weight of those massive boots wouldn’t let me maneuver myself and it took what felt like an eternity before I got my bearings. In that moment I just lay there, visualizing how absolutely ridiculous and absurd I must look and thinking how foolish I was (and really being thankful no one was around)–and for what? I am getting too old for this—no more! Then I managed to hoist myself up aka a dog, brushed off the snow and climbed back up the hill to paint.
January (winter field)
oil on canvas