Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Pace of Summer

Beavertail Rocks, Oil on Canvas, 11x14
At left is a plein-air oil done from a vantage point on the rocks at Beavertail in Jamestown, RI.  It was done on a day early in July after a spell of dreary weather.  This one I left as is-- no studio touch-ups or corrections (yet)-- because I think it successfully communicated the joy I felt in being at my favorite painting spot on a perfect day.  Hardy noticeable is a fishing boat. It's green and hardly visible there in the upper left.  Perhaps I would work to call that out a little more boldly; after all, it could contribute to the balance of the pictorial design.

   Such a picture symbolizes the joyous freedom experienced by this plein-air painter , especially as the pace of summer picks up with its demands for shows, paint outs, and even commissions.  Having just completed the show called Art Alfresco in Bristol, submitted paintings for the Gilbert Stuart show called Paint the Town, started teaching plein air painting through the auspices of the South County Art Association, and beginning preparations for shows and paint-outs in Massachusetts, I confirm what I tell many about this vocation.  With the rather inconstant weather,  New England plein-air painting is seasonal work and one must travel during the winter and early spring months to keep the activity going.  My challenge presently is a scheduling one to keep all the activities programmed for August and September free from conflicts.  For example, I have been offered a chance to participate in a plein-air auction event to happen in Bristol on the same date (September 7th) for which I am already committed to doing the Adams Farm Paint Out in Walpole, MA.   Musicians scheduling their gigs have the same issues about scheduling.  Mathematically speaking, one could say that the events we are interested in tend to cluster together (Poisson-like) rather than spread themselves uniformly over a time line.

  Whatever the level of activity, the artist must choose those which offer him the opportunity to hone his skills in observation, memory , and execution .  Each painting event, whether demonstration or paint-out, presents this opportunity through challenge and, sometimes, competition.  This latter factor (competition) is an external goad urging the artist onward.  More important, however, is the internal exhortation to go one step further in the quality of his or her production.  In reality there is no competition for the well-trained artist, since each artist offers their own perspective and unique expression in interpreting the scene before them.