Friday, July 20, 2012

Things Change – Quickly

One thing you can count on when you paint plein air, is change. Light changes, air quality changes, temperature changes, weather changes. Even the wildlife that is present changes. (Note to self – there are some BIG BUGS in this state, bring bug spray) This morning was a total lesson in changes occurring – weather wise.

In my fifth and last painting in the limited palette challenge, I painted Quail Run; the road upon which I live. Notice the lack of asphalt, lights and traffic.  After 34 years in San Diego County, I love this place. We are on the edge of the Gila(hee-la) National Forest and the weather comes barreling in here. This morning was threatening rain, but had these amazing low level clouds hugging the Burro Mountains on the edge of the Gila. You could see them right out the picture windows. Keep in mind that we are over a mile high. Sometimes I forget that.

When you are painting you have to decide on the moment you want, and to heck with the changes that happen. You cannot change every shadow, lengthen them or change their  color temperature with every passing ten minutes. You have to commit to what you have started to state, and finish that statement only. It was gray in places and bright in others. So how perfect was that for a painting?
As I painted, the clouds were moving in mighty fast. As I got close to putting the finish on this impressionist piece, I was suddenly enveloped by a solid cloud. I mean to tell you that I could make out my car, which I was standing next to, and not much else. Good thing I didn’t have to worry about traffic. And this is the middle of July for crying out loud! 

Storm Over the Gila - Oil on prepared wood board
Wind Canyon Êtude 7 - Final in Limited Palette Challenge
11x14 - Available

We are in the beginning of our monsoon season, and it was really easy to tell today. Not wanting to have to towel blot a wet oil painting, I gathered my brushes, cleaned up, packed my stuff and got in my car, totally rushing as I expected to get rained on. I started my car, looked up and the clouds were gone! The sky was back to cerulean blue and all the clouds had passed on by. Go figure.
I think there was a higher power telling me not to piddle with the painting. Do you need prompting to stop painting, as I obviously did? Or are you clever enough to spot that you are done?

First lesson learned was if there is a weather or light phenomenon that you want to record – get out there. It won’t last. And you can’t count on it returning tomorrow. Things change. Second thing, when you are done, BE done. This painting is called “Storm over the Gila”. 

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