More than almost any other pursuit I have ever taken part in, plein air is about the location, location, location.
It’s true that an artist can find inspiration almost anywhere if one only takes the time to look. Think of Van Gogh’s Potato Eaters, certainly an ungainly subject, but treated oh so magnificently.
But I can remember one morning when I loaded my car, picked up a painting buddy and hi-tailed it 60+ miles to go to Batiquitos Lagoon, up the coast from San Diego. It was quite a hike, and the hour was early. The weather was ‘iffy’ for California, with fog covering the valleys. A bit on the cold side for my soft sensibilities. Thank gawd for Starbucks.
It was really eating at me that I wanted to paint the Lagoon. It’s a lovely spot, rustic and secluded along a heavily congested part of the coast. It was spot where I wanted to catch the early morning light on the water as it came up in the East, over the mountains. So I got my friend up, stoked up on coffee and told her that yes it would be worth it. I tell you this so that you can appreciate the lengths that an artist will go to in order to paint in a particular spot. All this on the only morning that I could have slept in.
I got what I considered to be a good painting that morning. In fact, someone else thought so too, because it sold at its first showing. But the morning is one I will never forget. The light was magical as the fog lifted. And yes I did get to paint the lagoon. It’s that bitty piece in the upper right of the canvas. I still want to paint that lagoon. It’s not about the finished product but about the journey and the location.