Sunday, November 15, 2009

Getting Out

Salem County by Lori Levin "Canton View"
acrylic on panel
click to purchase

Everyone in this neck of the woods has been wondering what happened to the sun. After days of rain and a damp chill that made me want to stay in bed until spring, the sun is out today. Being nearly 70 degrees on this autumn day has brought everyone out of their homes to do yard work or to play. The birds that have been feasting at my feeders lately have taken a break to day and are enjoying this weather elsewhere. Brady, the studio dog, is resting on the studio porch waiting patiently for a squirrel chase. I am sitting here with the doors and windows open in my beautiful studio finishing up some loose ends after my long, enjoyable walk.

Everywhere I look I see paintings. It is almost maddening really. If I had the energy I could paint three paintings a day and not run out of things to paint. Luckily I'm not the only one that feels that way. Alex Alampi also sees the beauty down every one of these little country roads and invited me to paint outside with him. He thought it would be great to get out and challenge ourselves. I couldn't agree more.

Plein air painting is something I haven't done since 2007. I forgot how rigorous of a sport it was. Decisions have to be made instantly; confidence and concentration must be high. Failure is likely if you measure success by a finished product. Success is guaranteed if dusting off the cobwebs is your goal. No matter the outcome, painting outdoors and becoming one with the landscape is an education that shouldn't be missed.

I never had someone to paint with and I cannot begin to tell you what a treat it is. Marriage is tough but finding a suitable creative partner is nearly impossible. Once Alex and I find our place to paint we are like a well oiled machine. Neither of us has yet to walk away with a masterpiece but the value of our experience is immeasurable.

The above painting was started on our last jaunt around Salem County. Alex shared with me one of his favorite places in Canton. I felt like I was walking on holy ground. The wetlands surrounding the road were mesmerizing and peaceful. How lucky am I that I get paid to push paint around in the cool fresh air? We spent a good part of the afternoon working and I came home with this one halfway finished. I wouldn't call my efforts true plein air but beginning the painting outside instead of from a photograph makes a world of difference. In my opinion the work is more honest.

I have two new pet portraits on the drawing board and am desperately trying to finish an oil painting due for Christmas. However, the walls of Soulful Studios may have to be abandoned one more time this week to paint my neighborhood. Winter is coming and getting out will be more difficult. Or will it be?