Plein air season is fleeting in the northeast, so for those of us who participate in these events it fills our summers and autumns with painting and our winters and springs with planning . Calendars are blocked out months in advance, travel plans made, frames and canvases ordered or made, more art supplies brought in, and finally the cars are packed to their rooftops with easels, umbrellas, tents, screwdrivers, framing wires, bug spray, sunscreen, and off we go.
Sometimes we have a plan for what we’re going to paint, but often it’s the clouds or sun that determines whether or not we stop at a site—and whether or not it’s safe to do so. I recently added some triangular traffic “cones” to warn oncoming traffic to be alert.
What’s a day like? You’re up early, on the road, setting up, and maybe you’ve packed a lunch that you might remember to eat at 2:00. You get excited about where you’ve stopped to paint, and delve in as you have a number of hours to capture your subject. You keep it neat and tidy, respecting where you are, and consider what it is you want your painting to convey about the site you’ve chosen, and constantly assess. When you’re done, you pack it all up again, safely stow your new piece, and decide if you’re going to look for another place to paint. After sunset, you’re inside framing, and reorganizing for the next day’s work.
When the show and sale days roll around all of the participating artists are tired (perhaps exhausted!), but very excited to see how their body of work looks on their sales wall, and of course, they’re hoping to sell their work which is a result of years of painting, and months and months of planning.
If there’s a festival in your town, don’t hesitate to talk to the artists, and definitely go to the sale. You’ll be amazed at how they’ve seen your town or county, and you might just bring home a piece you’ll treasure.