May 26, 2013
It’s been several years since I’ve participated in a plein air event and I’m so glad Stems Plein Air was available locally and that I have been able to be a part of it. In the past I’ve had to drive some distance and stay in a motel to attend plein air events. This one at the Overland Park Arboretum is only about an hour’s drive from my house. I’ve even found a way to drive there that doesn’t involve rush hour traffic.
The weather has been just about perfect so far. No rain or high winds and just a little cold weather one morning. This arboretum is a huge place with both forest and flower gardens. Fortunately, the flower gardens are near the entrance. They are supposedly based on Monet’s gardens in France where he painted as a senior citizen painter.
This is a very laid back kind of event, which suits me perfectly. Artists come and go as they please and there are not a huge number of them. There are a couple competitive events, but I’m skipping those. I just show up on the days that I choose, set up my easel so that it doesn’t interfere with visitors to the garden and paint. Like Monet, I love flowers and there are a lot in bloom right now, poppies, irises, alium, peonies, etc. There are also various water features, including a Monet style bridge. When I go back to my car for lunch and a rest, I just leave my easel where it is.
A difference between this event and others I’ve attended, which were in small towns and the surrounding area, is that this is a popular public place so there are lots of visitors, who, of course, are intrigued by what the artists are doing. On Monday a busload of school children showed up. I didn’t mind them looking, since they pronounced my work awesome. On Tuesday the Arboretum does not charge admission, so that day I saw a number of young families with children not yet old enough to be in school. I overheard a parent admonish a little one, “You can play with ants and rolly pollies at home. We are here to look at the beautiful flowers.” In the restroom I heard, “Use three and save a tree.” On Wednesday the gardens were swarming with volunteer Master Gardners who come each Wednesday morning to plant, weed, and do whatever is required to keep the gardens looking beautiful.
The above painting is just one of the souveniers I’ll have to remind me of a very special time.