Sometimes our local group of plein air painters receives an invitation to paint at an event. When that happens, usually 4 or 5 of us will show up, and it is always fun. The garden party today, at Clay30A, was no exception. It was the 5th anniversary for the Seagrove Beach, FL, nursery and gift shop. I meant to arrive an hour early, because the party was only scheduled for 2 hours in the afternoon, and I wanted a head start. Alas, somewhere I lost an hour, so I arrived right after the party started. Several fellow painters were already hard at it. The business is a cornucopia for plein air painting – brilliant light and color and contrasting dark shadows galore. I often bite off more than I can chew when we (the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters) paint here, so today I purposefully chose a simple subject, pots of flowers hanging from a tree. I correctly guessed that the sun would be starting to hit the flowers by the end of the party at 5:00, which was when I would be ready to paint the light. From when I started at 3:00 until then, I was busy with simple shape making and background colors. At the end, I was pleased with my result, so I gave it to the owner to thank her for inviting our group. To our surprise, she gave each of us a sweet card and gift. I am so grateful to live in such a classy place! Below is my painting. There was one change I made after shooting this photo — I removed the pot hanger I had started to paint in below the lowest hanging pot on the right. I decided that it would be difficult to identify, and that visually it would be less confusing to have the pots just hanging from the tree.
I recently completed two commissioned assignments in which specific subjects were requested. In the first case, a specific style also was requested. Fortunately for me, the stylistic samples I was given, ranged from the light and airy scenes of the French Impressionists to a piece of “outsider art” which had that sort of purely expressive sense of being painted by an artist who has not had formal training. I was confident I could paint within that wide of a range!
The location of the first commissioned piece was in the gardens at Grayt Grounds of Monet Monet, at a wedding reception, and my job was to paint the bride and groom’s first dance. When I arrived to get the background started, the Forrest Williams band was setting up, and the people from Grayton Beach Catering were bustling about. My background was blocked in when the first guests arrived, and I was enjoying the band singing “She’s as Sweet as Tupelo Honey”. By the time the guests started arriving, my 10×8 painting was well underway, and a few of the guests would wander over and watch as I worked. I let one of the children put some color on the bottom part. When the bride and groom were announced and made their entrance onto the dance floor, I put down my brush and picked up my sketchpad and my camera. After the dance, I laid in the figures on my nearly finished background and then finished the details in the studio using my sketch and my photos for reference. Afterwards, I decided to paint another painting in the studio, making effort to paint in a more “Impressionist” style, with layers of short, patterned brushstrokes loaded with color, which was great fun. (See also my later blog “Commissions under Pressure – Plein Air at Events”.)
|Plein air sketch
|Plein air painting, details in studio
The second commission was for Channing Gardner, a real estate agent, for a gift for his client. My task was to paint the Seagrove Beach property as it was when it was purchased, before anything was built on it. It took me two mornings to complete it, because of the changing light and the heat. I opted for a wider format, painting it 12×24, which allowed me to include more of the coastal development to contrast with the empty lot.
June is my busiest time of year in my day job, managing my pool service business, so I was not able to join the local plein air painters yet this summer until things lightened up this week. We met near the pond at Mystic Port, a small collection of shops and restaurants north of Grayton Beach, Florida. I was intrigued by the fountain, but never having painted one, I gladly accepted the suggestion of a more experienced artist, to put the splash on the surface of the water and then take a palette knife and drag upwards. I am happy with the results — I can hearing the water falling. Other works by our group on that day can be found on our Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.520412828081717.1073741866.285985251524477&type=1.