“Plein air is as much about thinking as painting,” Bruce Bundock commented about yesterday’s painting. I turned that over in my head as I worked yesterday. It seems to me there are two kinds of plein air painters: those who work intuitively, and those who work intellectually. Of course, every painter is a balance of both, but one approach predominates, at least in the beginning.
There is a tribe of painters we might call the Marsh People. They can do lovely atmospherics, but there is no structure in their paintings, either in the landforms or in terms of buildings, cars or boats, because it’s too much hassle to draw, or even to learn to draw. The problem with that kind of work is that in the end it all looks the same.
We had a window-rattling, door-slamming wind on Wednesday night. In the morning, the Elizabeth Ann wallowed out of the harbor like a child taking her first steps. I felt for the people who had to take that boat; they were in for a bumpy passage.
The same wind built steadily during the day. So much for painting on top of the hill at the lighthouse or at the Bogdonove house; it was the kind of wind that would flip our brushes into Muscongus Bay.
We decided to walk about and reconnoiter a bit, something I never allow myself to do, although it’s part of that “thinking” that Bruce is so keen on. Bobbi keeps a notebook with ideas for painting, and we hoped to add to it. And we wanted to see a show of the work of the late Don Stone.
In the afternoon, we set up on Lobster Cove Road to paint up the hill. We’d checked on The Photographer’s Ephemeris and with the National Weather Service and calculated that we should have a raking side light around 1 PM. Except that we didn’t. Except for brief moments, the clouds were far less broken than we anticipated. I think I may go back to using a compass and my old bones as siting tools. And frankly, we were all dragging a bit. None of our starts got finished.
I find that constant cold affects me like that, but it may not, in fact, be just the weather. The Fitbit is brutally honest. Yesterday it told me I’d climbed 56 flights of stairs, awarding me the appropriately-named “lighthouse badge.” It also told me I’ve averaged five and a half hours of sleep this week. I’m starting to feel ratty, and it is affecting my painting. So after I finish packing this morning, I’m taking just one more stab at it, right above the dock so I don’t miss my boat. From there, it’s home for me, and a hot bath in my clawfoot tub.