Oil on panel, 9×12″ (reworked from original plein air) (larger)
Saturday was the first plein air paint-out of the season for the East Bay Plein Air Painters. We went to Old Borges Ranch, a charming historical old ranch with a blacksmith shop, old barns, farm animals, all surrounded by the brilliant green hills of springtime. It was very cloudy and I decided that what I wanted to focus on was trying to observe and paint the effect of the cloudy, cool, diffused light.
After wandering around trying to pick a spot, by the time I was ready to start painting I only had two hours left before our group critique. This is the same painting as above after two hours:
Oil on panel, 9×12″ (original plein air) (larger)
I probably should have left it alone and moved on. But I was frustrated with the way I seem to always be painting hills (I’m sick of painting hills!) and they always look flat. So after the critique, I went back and started working on the painting again, determined to figure out how to make the hills not look flat. I stood there painting for 2 more hours and although I made some discoveries about paint application and brush strokes, I hadn’t improved the painting at all (just the opposite).
What I’d planned to do after the paint-out at 1:00, was to take a walk on the beautiful trails and do some sketching of the interesting sights but it was too late when I finally gave up on the painting at 4:00 because I had a long drive home and had to get ready for a dinner party that evening.
Today, even though I tried to ignore it, the painting and my frustration about it continued to bug me. I finally decided to work on it some more until I either got it or killed it. I guess I did a little of both.
The truth is that today oil painting isn’t feeling like fun. I’m missing the watercolor sketchbooking and drawing for fun I did all the time before I took up oils. I’m jealous of all the people I see while I’m plein air painting who are taking a hike in pretty places instead of torturing themselves trying to paint them. I’m missing filling up my sketchbook with fun, wonky drawings and loose watercolors. I’m longing for working from still life set ups or photos where the light doesn’t change and where it’s not always a rush against time.
I also know that I’m persistent if nothing else, and that I’m not giving up the struggle. But it’s time to have more fun with my art. After all, I’m doing this for my own creative pleasure, and as much as I love learning, sometime a woman just needs to play, too.