Monday, June 08, 2015
Old Dairy Barn in Whitehouse
I painted this barn in Whitehouse last Friday during the annual paint out sponsored by the Waterville Arts Commission. It is a 100 plus year old dairy barn owned by the Metro Parks, located north of the town off Shadel Road. It's located in an area known as the Blue Creek Conservation Area. There is a wildlife refuge next door, Nature's Nursery, where they accept and care for injured wildlife. The refuge saves more than 3,000 animals a year. What a great non-profit, and right in our own back yard. Here is a link to their website: http://www.natures-nursery.org/
As a plein air painter, you're always conscious of the weather, so I checked the forecast the night before. There was a 20% chance of thundershowers in the afternoon hours. We started painting around 10:45 AM. Generally, it takes 2-2-1/2 hours to complete a plein air painting. The lighting conditions will change dramatically if you try to paint any longer, especially in the sun. The one exception to this rule is on a cloudy day. You could almost paint all day when the light is consistent.
So we found ourselves still painting at 1:15 PM when the clouds rolled in. I'm not sure I would have added anything else to this painting, but I didn't have time to consider it. I packed my gear as quickly as possible, ran to the car with the painting and just barely made it inside before the clouds opened and a torrent of rain descended. We were lucky, but I know from experience I'll always remember this day.
Sunny days are enjoyable and the paintings are bright, with distinct patterns of light and shadow, but it's the sheer excitement of battling weather and bugs that creates a memorable day for me. The paintings I remember most are the ones I finished through sheer determination. How could I ever forget the young billy goat who tried to climb on top of my paint box, WHILE I painted. I cleaned cadmium yellow from his lips and hooves with baby wipes, praying he wouldn't be poisoned. At least once a year, a painting will blow off the easel or I'll drop it while carrying it to the car. It's an unwritten rule that these paintings always land face down. And it's usually a pretty good painting too, until I turn it over and see all the grass and pebbles adhered to the surface.
Plain air painting is not for artists who enjoy order. If you can embrace chaos and you're not frustrated easily, you will enjoy it. However, if you're one of those people who expect everything to go according to schedule and you like to trace your scene out before you even begin to paint, you might want to try a different hobby.