I recently had the opportunity to paint for three and a half days in and around Burnet, as a participant in the Burnet Art Festival. My time spent out in the country side alone, doing what I love best was enjoyable but challenging at times. There is a certain thrill in driving around in search of a scene to paint. It is like a hunt for the perfect painting opportunity. But, after driving around for an hour or more, it becomes a bit stressful. I am wasting precious time and the ideal morning light is being lost as time ticks on.
On one such day, I finally happened upon a field with hay bales. I knew it was just the scene I had been in search of. There was enough shoulder space on this particular country road, near Joppa, Texas, so I pulled my van over, set up my easel and started painting. I began with the sky, layered with blue holes, white clouds and turbulent dark clouds over those. I wanted to capture the layers and movement in the sky quickly as it was ever changing.
I heard a tractor in the distance, then it neared and the farmer waved at me. I waved back. He headed for the hay bale closest to me. I had already done a pre-sketch in paint of the scene, including the hay bales. I suddenly realized he was on the way to move each of the bales and carry them away. I quickly mixed colors for the hay and began painting them in. One thing that I love about plein air painting is the thrill and adventure of each painting experience. I love the resulting painting of the golden field, cloudy sky and distant farm house. The painting titled, "Fields of Gold" was entered in the art festival as one of my two competition pieces.
On Friday morning, the final full day of painting, I awoke to a cold, rainy day. The temperature outside had dropped fifty degrees over night! Certainly not an ideal day for painting en plein air! I could not see waiting it out in the hotel room, so I made a shopping stop on the way to my painting destination for a coat, hat and gloves. This time, I knew where I was headed, to a view I had seen last March in downtown Marble Falls. After turning down the wrong street, I quickly found the view once again, parked my van and set up. It began to drizzle, so I opened the hatch back and stood under it as I painted.
A few passers by stopped to admire my work and give compliments. One man whose place of business was right next to my set up, talked to me a while then returned with a hot cup of tea. How sweet! He later brought me a barbecue sandwich for lunch, which I ate while warming up in the front seat of my van.
I think the painting titled, "Open Road", captures the vast space, as well as the dreary chilled day. I can't say it was the most pleasant of painting experiences, but it was definitely one I will always remember. Every painting is a story of the "hunt" for inspiration, the time spent in front of the easel (usually two to four hours), and the people I see and meet as I am creating the artwork. Next time you meet an artist, ask them about the experiences surrounding the creation of the artwork. You might find out that the story about the circumstances of its creation or just as interesting as the painting itself.