At the Arboretum

Into the Woods, acrylic, 18" x 14"

Into the Woods, acrylic, 18″ x 14″

During the last two weeks of May I participated in Stems Plein Air, an outdoor painting event at the Overland Park, KS, Aboretum.  This is an annual event which I did last year for the first time.  Artists are allowed to paint at the Arboretum and two other small locations any day during a two-week period.  Each artist may turn in three paintings for judging and those chosen will be in an art show at the Arboretum and at another location.  None of mine were chosen this year but it was still a very enjoyable experience.

I painted two days the first week and three the second and finished three paintings, including the one above, and had a good start on the fourth, which I have since finished.  I had an interesting experience with that one.  I began it on a Monday afternoon at the Arboretum sitting in front of a row of brightly colored pansies with a background of a dark hedge.  But flowers are ephemeral things.  I did not return again until Wednesday and they were beginning to look a little droopy but still paintable.  But then a hoard of master gardeners descended on the Arboretum, as I learned they do each Wednesday morning to tend to the gardens.  This made paintings a bit more difficult.  Then one told me the sprinkler system would go on in 45 minutes and I would have to move by that time.  But the crowing blow came when someone instructed the master gardeners who were working near me to pull up all the pansies and plant something else.

I thought this painting had the potential to be the best of mine from this event.  but it was not eligible to be entered because the rules state that the painting must be totally completed on site, and of course this was now impossible.  Fortunately, I had taken a photo of the pansies on Monday so I was able to complete the painting at home.  Actually, that is the way I usually work.  I do most of the painting on site and take photos.  Then at home I figure out what else needs to be done or changed and do it.  But outdoor painting to me isn’t ultimately about rules.  It is enjoying the outdoors and trying to create an impression of what I am experiencing in the hope that others will see the beauty of it too.


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