Plein Air Painting with Class

June 30, 2010

When I signed up in the spring for a late June plein air painting class (painting outdoors) offered by the Lawrence Art Center, it seemed like a great idea.  But last week with temperatures in the 90s and class due to begin this week on Monday, I had my doubts.  The class is for one week only, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. each evening Monday through Friday. (Husband doesn’t mind fixing his own dinner.  He views it as an opportunity to indulge in less healthy food.)  And Monday evening, standing up at the edge of a soybean field watching teacher Paul Hotvedt give a painting demonstration with the temperature still nearly 90, I wondered how I would endure.  When it was time to choose a spot to paint, with no natural shade in sight, I chose the only shade I could find, the shade made by my car.  The scene in front of me wasn’t that great, a road leading into some distant woods, but the shade made it possible to paint and eventually the temperature dropped a bit.

We six students are a hardy group ranging in age from late teens to 70s.  Two spoke of recent hospital stays, but still they were there.  Fortunately, by last evening  the temperature had dropped and we had moved to a shadier location, some KU research land in the hills northeast of Lawrence.  We met at the old Grant School and drove up the winding gravel roads following our teacher’s truck engulfed in clouds of dust so thick I could barely see the car in front of me.

But this location made it all worth it.  For those willing to lug their painting gear almost half a mile there was a wonderful spot overlooking the valley.  Being less energetic, I chose a shady spot at the edge of the woods on a concrete path.  Nearby frogs played in a puddle and blackberries were beginning to ripen.  I painted the dark woods with weeds and wildflowers in the foreground and pretty much finished the 12″ x 16″ canvas.  To me it looks pretty good.

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