Self-Forgiveness and Transcendence in Plein Air Painting

May 14, 2015 in Landscape, Plein Air by joanvienot

I often say that I meet myself coming and going, when I am plein air painting. By that I mean that I have to do a lot of work on self-acceptance throughout the process of making a painting. Every painting is a struggle – none go exactly as planned. Some paintings go better than others, but some seem like every stroke, every color, every value, every shape, is wrong and needs to be corrected. Those paintings require self-forgiveness and self-acceptance all the way through, or else I would quit and they would end up in the trash. If I don’t forgive myself, then I become angry, and then painting is no fun. I have to reach the “zen” of the process, that point where I start to let be whatever mark I make, without conscious judgement of “good” or “bad”. The artistic analysis and corrections become unconscious, and that is when painting becomes meditative and personally transcending.

I recently have done a number of paintings, some with the local Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters, and some at an event in Apalachicola, the Forgotten Coast En Plein Air. Yesterday I did not complete my painting. I often wait until last to develop the focal area of my painting. Yesterday I worked on the focal area first, and I lost track of the time, so the call for group critique came while I still had half the canvas bare.  I quickly slapped in the greenery and a suggestion of the ground to give some context and the following image of the Bruce Cafe was the result.

2015-0513 Bruce Cafe, unfinished

Unfinished — Bruce Cafe

Last week’s regular plein air session was at Oak Marina in Niceville, Florida, yielding my impression of the graphic light on the foreground and the massive oak tree trunk.

Oil painting of the big tree trunks and light patterns on the ground at Oak Marina at Niceville, Florida

I painted 3 paintings during the span of the Forgotten Coast En Plein Air. I painted in the Quickdraw Competition the first weekend and was pleased that my painting sold during the judging! The scene included a row of potted plants in front of a landscapers office, some in the shade, and some in the sun. I called it “Garden Ready”.

Oil painting of potted plants and rocking chair at the 2015 Apalachicola Quickdraw, sold to a festival attendee

The next day my eye was caught by the light on the crumbling stucco wall and corrugated tin covering the windows of the abandoned waterfront Joe Taranto Seafood Company building. Across the street is the iconic wall of buoys, but I just suggested the buoys in order to keep attention of the texture of the wall and tin.

Oil painting of the light on the cracked stucco side of the Seafood building, with the wall of buoys across the street, downtown Apalachicola, FL

I could not stay for the entire event — my pool service business is experiencing a growth spurt, so I needed to be home during the week, but I returned on the weekend for the final showing of the works of the professional invited artists. While there, I painted what was told to me was the oldest structure in town, a building which now is just four walls, with no roof, draped with trumpet vines. The stark shadows of the palms on the wall were what initially attracted me to the scene. Unfortunately, I made a lot of what we painters refer to as mud when I was painting the spaces between the shadows, so I came back to the scene the next morning and cleaned them up. This is my result.

2015-0509 Apalachicola Memories

The week before last, our local plein air group painted at Four Mile Landing in Freeport, FL. I chose the industrial scene of the port, where barges were ready to be loaded, and on one bank, a new fireboat’s water cannons were being tested. The light alternated between a sunny glare and muted overcast as the atmosphere wafted in and out. The result was more impressionistic, with extra emphasis on the lights and darks.

Oil painting of the industrial facilities and barges at Four Mile Landing in Freeport, FL

All of my paintings are available for sale — click on the painting for an individual view showing the price, with a form to contact me.

In addition to “Garden Ready”, the Quickdraw competition painting shown above, the following paintings also recently sold. “Marsh at Indian Pass” sold during the Artists of Apalachicola Area member show two weekends ago, and “Island Plantation” sold this past Monday night at a meeting of the local women artists network.

Oil painting of the marsh, crossing over onto Indian Pass peninsula, Port St. Joe, FL Oil painting of the clearing from the bay boardwalk on St. George Island