Plein air painting can be a lonely exercise, especially if there aren’t many others around you who share the same passion. So what’s an artist to do? Fresh from the success of the San Diego group online, I tried the meetup.com approach here in my new digs, but that just didn’t work. People were very enthusiastic as long as I was talking to them about it. But try to get someone to sign up on line, and then show up. It just wasn’t happening here. Most artists I talked to said “Oh yes, I paint plein air.” Did they show up? Un-huh. Nope. Lotsa lip service, coupled with little follow through. I tried different days, times and venues to no avail. There was always a reason why they couldn’t or didn’t show up.
After footing the bill for the meetup site for the last 18 months, I decided that I could use that money to get a new website for myself, or help fund the supply list. I certainly wasn’t getting any participation on the meetup front. This made me quite sad until I realized that I was marketing this all wrong. I mean come on, I use deodorant and soap. So that couldn’t be it. Maybe the people I needed to reach were already plein air painters. Not novice painters who didn’t know what to bring or how to use it once there. I needed people who were hot to paint, and in some cases too hot to paint. Las Cruces has outdoor painters and so does Deming. Both places are much lower altitude and consistently hotter through the summer months. So I contacted both groups and proposed a paintout here in Wind Canyon.
|Connie and Carlos discussing his painting of Wind Canyon Drive|
We had almost 10 people show up here yesterday – a new paintout group record. For some it was a 120 plus mile trip. I told them it was cooler in the mountains and they could use the change of scenery. Thanks to our monsoons, we had green! - Not the dun color of yellow ochre so prevalent in the flatlands. Green there only occurs in the odd tilled, planted and liberally watered field. All my guests were thrilled with the change of local. We had time to paint, and they spread out looking for enticing views.
|Linda Hagen and her painting of Wind Canyon Drive|
I paint our canyon every week and sometimes several times in a week. What they saw was my everyday scenery, but with fresh eyes. It helped to point out to me views that I had bypassed every day and not appreciated. So now I am thrilled to try new vantage points, views of the new old stuff I see every day. We had a lunch at my dining room table, and there were so many that hubby and I had to eat in the living room. And that was just fine. We are building a community – passionate, possessed painters who will travel over a hundred miles for a change of pace, a change of temperature (they thought it was cooler, I was dying from heat) and a safe place to paint. The bobcat and mountain lion stayed safely secluded yesterday. Good thing.
|Carols and Linda painting side by side|
I intend to return to their paintout sites and paint with them in Deming and Las Cruces, in the cooler part of the year. Stop on by Labor Day weekend to our plein air art show and sale in Las Cruces at the Franciscan Holy Cross Retreat. Here is the link for time and location information http://franciscanfestival.org/.
We learn from each other as much as from working alone. So don’t be a Lone Ranger. Find your Kemo Sabes and ride off to paint the sunset.
Be so good, they can’t ignore you. (Steve Martin)