Here in the Upper Valley summer means it’s outdoor concert season and outdoor concerts are perfect for sketchbooking.
Two weeks ago my friend Sonja Hakala, a fabulous writer and photographer, sat next to me at the Chad Hollister concert on the Quechee green. As we listened, I sketched the scene and assumed Sonja was focusing her lens to capture the crowd as usual.
Just imagine my delight when she sent me these great photos of the spread in progress and blogged about it too!
Here’s the final spread… notice the stickers! I LOVE STICKERS!
Thanks Sonja! It’s been a great season.
I am not a confident landscape artist.
That’s exactly why I continue to go out with my plein air group Thursday mornings! These days I’ve been working on losing my dependence on ink line and using real watercolor brushes.
Even with the drought our rivers are lovely and have plenty of water. A perfect spot to enjoy a summer morning.
When painting, some days are better than others.
I consider myself fortunate to live near to two of New England’s small jewels in the National Park Service. Both Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park and Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site are easily within reach. Saint-Gaudens in particular is a favorite location for my plein air group on a beautiful summer day.
We met there a few weeks ago and each one of us, although close in proximity, chose to sketch and paint a different view. I chose to sketch the Hermes sculpture standing along the edge of the garden, a particularly suitable spot for the god of transitions and boundaries.
As I started in I realized he wouldn’t fit on the page and I abandoned this page only to return to add the blooms and frame out what I had captured of dear Hermes.
I fared better in my second attempt. Not only did he fit easily on the page, but I managed to capture his surroundings as well. By the end of this session I was quite hot from sitting in the sun, perfect timing to stop and see what my compatriots accomplished. Besides, it was time for lunch and I knew they would be off in search of nourishment.
I got all the way back to my car before I remembered I hadn’t stamped the S-G National Park stamp in my journal. It’s become habit and I certainly didn’t want to break my streak. So… back I went. But the stamp wouldn’t easily fit on my previous pages and… I was getting a second-wind. After my landscape outing at VINS I was eager to try my paint only technique at capturing Ascutney Mountain.
I’m quite happy with the range of values… getting my darks dark enough has always been a weakness.
But… still no place for the stamp! …just had to add another page to my day.
Now there’s plenty of room for journaling and those coveted stamps.
Success… time to head home!
Today I joined our plein air group at Lake Runnemede in Windsor, Vermont. The plan was to paint the expanse of waterlilies against the distant mountains… that’s Ascutney in the distance.
Don’t you love the cloud reflections in the water?
There’s a resident family of Canada geese and after some discussion they decided to form a conga line directly across the lily pads.
We all have an inner critic, the IC, that noxious voice getting in the way of your artistic progress. What we need is a way to retrain our critic to critique the work instead.
As an example I’ll show you a spread I made a few weeks ago while out with my Thursday plein air group. They’re all fine artists and at every excursion I talk to myself………………. Do. Not. Compare.
It has issues, my IC sees the mud, the poorly defined tree mass and the random scratchy lines in the chairs. Is that helpful? Not really. As I critique the piece I register that as I created this piece I hurried my lines… I needed to look… really look and slow down. My trees have nice trunks but again, I rushed. Breathe! It’ll still be there… what’s the rush?
A good critique also reflects on the pieces that DO work. I managed to capture the depth within the barn and the stacked feed bags.
Practice! The more work you create the looser the hold your inner critic has on you. I remember that day clearly. As I sat painting and chatting, I savored the sun, the beautiful breeze, freshly picked sweet strawberries and especially the pleasant camaraderie of a morning spent with friends.
Every time I see this I will remember it all… and my critic has been banished!