Plein air

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I was invited to join the local art club’s plein air paint-out today and I accepted. It was in Florence’s back yard – the two acre parcel of the total seven that has been developed with house, Florence’s studio. a green house,  and orchard. It’s very beautiful; very out-in-the country-like. It’s what I remember of my great-aunt’s place before they totally redeveloped White Rock. The house is 1960’s modern, though. It’s a Frank Lloyd Wright type of house, close to the ground, single level blending into the landscape as if it had always been there.

The sad thing is that Florence is now in her eighties; her husband died last year. Her adult children are convinced she must move.  She admits that she can’t manage a seven acre place herself. Her offspring are building her a new place in West Vancouver.

She sighed with little-accepted resignation. “It’s not just the house. It’s thirty years of memories and more. It’s all of my studio, the paintings, the books, the materials. It all has to go.”

I got thinking on the fragility of life, the fugitivity. What is left after a lifetime of work, of raising children, of keeping house and keeping family history alive, of painting and creating?  In the end, you can’t take it with you. But in the meantime, when you are trying to clear it up, what do you do with it? It becomes a problem.

It strikes home. I’ve been working in the last month or so, giving a concerted effort to recycling various things that I’ve inherited that I don’t particularly want to keep. Last week, I found a box of father’s writings. I can’t read them. They’re all in Engineering language. I don’t understand it’s content nor do I have any sense of the importance of it. I think I will call the University and ask them if they want to keep them. The other members of the family aren’t interested; and amongst the younger generation, there is no one likely to develop an interest for them, even later in life.

The thing with plein air or outdoors painting, is that you have to bring everything with you – paints, palette, table, chair, drawing or watercolour pads. I had forgotten a table but I had a cooler in the car which I up-ended and used for one.  The lid of it I used to set my art bag and camera on since the grass was heavily laced with dew still.

I picked a landscape to transfer to my watercolour paper and then  settled myself into my transportable folding chair. The landscape photo, above, is what I chose to paint. Here’s what resulted from my endeavours:

Chez Florence Arches small

While I waited for the first wash to dry, I got out that pad of Yupo “paper” that I experimented with some months back. It’s a slippery paper and if it doesn’t sit absolutely straight as it dries, then the paint goes southwards and loses all its definition. Control-oriented as I am, this is not a comfortable thing for me, but I”m not going to waste the paper, so this was a good opportunity to see if I could get anything with it today.

Here’s the Yupo solution:

Chez Florence Yupo  small

I tried some photoshop adjustments that were not successful. It’s not quite as garish as it looks here.  The blue is less metallic looking, but the yellow is as yellow as what the finished work looks like.

I felt that in neither drawing had I got the branch arrangements right so I went back and did a pen drawing. There was an implied heart shape to it that I felt I did not capture in the watercolour paintings.

Here’s the pen drawings”

chez florence ink drawing

And here I’ve pinked in the implied heart shape:

chez florence ink drawing w colour

In all, I must have had two hours to do all this . Shortly after two, I headed back for home. When I went to get in the car, I burnt my hand on the metal, it was so hot out. Heat gathered all day and in the end I believe I heard 37 degrees was the highest it got.

It’s cooler out now, at half past midnight. It’s so hot nobody wants to do anything. I have the fan on and have reduced the heat in the house by one degree, but it’s not going any lower. Tomorrow will be another scorcher.

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5 Responses to “Plein air”

  1. lesliepaints Says:

    These are great! Frame the watercolor.You’ll find just the right place to hang it. The ink drawings are so cool.Yupo is difficult, but I think you have a fantastic start. I don’t know about getting rid of things. Her children are going to want that artwork, someday. Not the same as originals, but even if they were photographed, resoluted and disced.It’s history. I’ve cleaned out some of my older, not-so-good work and my kids and sistersalways ask to go through it. They each have sleevedportfolios they put art in to pass on. A disc is a thought for your Fathers writing, also.

  2. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Leslie,
    Thanks for the good suggestions.
    I’ll ask Florence if she has thought about documenting her work.
    Alas, I’m afraid, for my fathers work, that it was all typed and with engineering drawings. It would be a daunting task to go through it all and scan it to keep it.
    I’m going to try the university route first.
    K

  3. swatch Says:

    Hey K – these are GREAT – talk about light under a bushel – you must do more of these – more watercolour and more plein air. Sorry dear but it is simply a must. I agree with Leslie – this is a keeper. The Yupo is interesting. I like it. It has vooma –

  4. swatch Says:

    I have just read your post – this is all quite sad – it reminded me of Ecclesiastes written by Solomon – It all adds a poignancy to your paintings. They are both lovely S

  5. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Thanks for your approbation, Swatch.
    I enjoyed being out in the fresh air. I got sunburnt a bit while I was at it, but not enough for discomfort, so I’m not suffering any ill effects.
    K

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