Paint Schoodic

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The one that got away

The best paintings are sometimes the ones you never got around to doing.
Hoodoos in training, by Carol L. Douglas
This morning I have five paintings in various stages of completion. I’m showing them to you, but each of them needs work before they’re finished. Like it or not, I will spend today working on them, after which I will choose which ones to enter.  We’re delivering from 10-1 tomorrow, and then the die is cast. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing. It takes the pressure off, but we know that whatever we paint Thursday afternoon is going to be our masterpiece.
There’s an apple tree down the road. It hangs over a modest adobe doorway and is opening up into all its glory. It calls to me each time I drive down the road, but either the light is wrong or I am fighting it out on a different line. I really want to get that tree on canvas before I leave, but I don’t have time to start something else.
Near Currington, ND, by Carol L. Douglas (watercolor)
I have driven through Saskatchewan and Manitoba twice, looking for the iconic lonely farm to paint. When I was driving through South Dakota at 75 mph in a sketchbook on my lap, I was able to catch a few. When I had the luxury of stopping and setting up an easel and painting methodically, I managed to get through two provinces without ever finding the subject I was looking for.

Blame it on the luxury of time to squander, the wind, rain, or the light. It doesn’t matter; it happens to everyone.
Dry wash, not finished, by Carol L. Douglas
There’s always one that gets away. Today there’s a paint-out at Diablo Canyon. It’s a basalt formation, but it’s a 2.2-mile hike to the money shot. I can’t do that hike on these recently-surgerized feet, and it’s killing me.

Plein air events are mercilessly leveling. “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust alike.” When the wind knocked my easel down three times, as it did yesterday, I reminded myself that every one of us fights the same obstacles.

“My umbrella has been kind of useless this week,” said Richard Abraham, who had to chase his hat across the desert. “It’s made for some great Buster Keaton moments.”

We have no access to bathrooms, we worry about pulling over, we’re tired from traveling. Watercolorists have the worst of it. It’s impossible to drop color into a wet sheet when the wind is blowing. Susan De'Armond tells me she’s tried wetting the whole sheet but it dried in moments.

Unfinished, by Carol L. Douglas. That foreground is a mess.
Our host, Jane Chapin, understands all this. She’s an accomplished plein air painter herself, so she understands the ways we can get locked into battle on site. She’s given her Crock-Pot a real workout this week, making us meals that will keep until we stumble in. We protest that it’s not necessary (and it’s definitely not what she signed up for) but it’s greatly appreciated.

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