Friday, March 22, 2013

Plein Air: Road End

Road End 
Oil on panel 9 x 12

Usually I don't paint on Fridays. It is my day off because I need time to prepare myself for the weekend painting excursion. I chose this way based on my consideration that I didn't have to worry about parking if necessary. When I paint outdoors, it is easy to forget time. Once on a weekday I was painting at Downtown Fort Myers, I forgot the two-hour parking limit and ended up having a ticket.

 Today I went out to paint because of how I felt yesterday. Yesterday morning I was happy for the portrait of Chanler I did. Unfortunately, my mood was spoiled for the second painting in the afternoon. I wasn't satisfied with it. As you may know, in such cases, I've got to do a good painting to make myself feel good. So around 3 PM, I drove to the last block of Louis Ave. Ordinarily, even the road in its last block is supposed to be paved, too. However, either the city government has cut corners in their highway maintenance budget or,  maybe because there are no residential houses what so ever in this block, the road has never been paved before. Anyway, the last block looked like a gravel road with weeds growing in the middle of the top all the way to the red road end sign. 

As I was driving slowly toward the road end sign, a lad on a four-wheel dirt vehicle (I don't know what it is called) was impatient behind me. He quickly passed me and drove down one of the dirt trails which crossed the road. Before I set up my easel properly, he was coming back on his vehicle and passed by with a deafening noise made by the vehicle. I loved the half natural and half human-made scene with the crisscross of dirt trails. Strangely there is, on road side, garbage which I didn't include in my painting. I looked around and tried to imagine who would often come and haunt this place besides the dirt bikers. Maybe high school lovebirds, some convicts, or crazy artists like myself?

It took two hours to make myself feel good. I did have some breakthroughs, at least to myself. Carolyn Anderson said that in realist art what we can do is only to present a kind of Reader's Digest version of reality, that is, we accurately reflect relationships of the reality in terms of value color, etc. What made me feel good when I finished this painting is the fact that I believe I handled the relationships well. Besides, I realized and successfully used warm and cool colors to separate neighboring planes or objects which are close in value. 


  1. People always say to me "It must be so relaxing to be a painter!" I am glad that you have tried to explain the ups and downs moods take doing artwork. If it is coming together and starting to rpresent what inspired me I feel top of things and cheerful and even stand straighter with a bounce in my step so to speak...but one wrong color or size brushstroke and then it can start going downhill as I start to try to save it. People don't realize you can't always duplicate what was there before you painted over a spot, because it was a result of multiple steps. Some planned based on what you know works and some brand new things just tried to see how well that might will for a change. Now the engineer would say, You must follow a plan from your knowledge base, experience and research, so just follow it, it is all in the planning why did you alter your plan?" But the artist is a creative problem solver and never satisfied with the predictable sure way to execute a project. HA! Plan B, plan C and even D or a combination of many plans is what make it new and alive. To make this all simpler most people just feel down when that little bird dies! But maybe the other ones in the nest are doing OK and ya feel better as you feed them. The painting has to be able to fly away on its own as well.

  2. Thank you, Cathy, for your comment. I totally agree on what you said above. It is so true that painting is definitely not a kind of relaxation. On the contrary, it is, more often than not, like frustration when you are not satisfied with yourself for what you did in the painting. Of course, there are times you feel good about yourself because of the progress you've made.