Never too Hot to Paint

July 13, 2011

After a week of vacation in Colorado I was glad to return to the plein air class on Monday.  But what a day it had been with temperatures hovering around or over 100 degrees.  I wondered if class would even be held.  But I received no notice that it wouldn’t so I packed a thermos of ice water in my backpack, loaded the rest of my gear into the car, including a straw hat, and headed out to the overlook at Clinton Lake where we had painted the last time class met.

This is usually a popular spot, although not on that Monday at 5 p.m.  But soon after I arrived the other senior citizen member of the class showed up and shortly after that our 25-year-old teacher, who said one of the younger class members had called him and said it was too hot to paint.  But here we were with the sun still brightly shining.  I decided not to paint the lake again since I hadn’t done very well with that the last time.  Moving all my gear very far was not appealing so I walked a short way down a concrete path looking for inspiration.

I found it looking not at the lake but in the other direction into a grove of trees with a picnic table and bench in the distance.  The rough texture of the bark and the colors in the trunks of the trees as the sun lit up on one side of them looked interesting.  Whole trees can be hard to paint with all their little branches.  So I used a small canvas 12″ x 16″ and painted primarily the trunks of the trees and parts of the larger branches where they diverged from the trunk.  The sun made dark shadows on the green grass with patches of yellow green light in between.  Dressed in long pants, long sleeved shirt and straw hat, I was painting fast, drinking cold water and snacking on dried fruit with sweat occasionally running into my eyes.  I left about 7:15 p.m. with the best painting I have done so far in this class.

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