I spent half of August and half of September on a month-long adventure of travel and plein air painting. Two weeks were in Colorado at the Estes Valley Plein Air event where I painted almost every day in beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park near the town of Estes Park, Colorado. And one week was in the spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains, near Blue Ridge, Georgia. I completed 11 paintings.
It was an honor to be juried into the Estes Valley Plein Air event, which was sponsored by the Art Center of Estes Park, and managed by the very capable team of Lars and Kristi. I opted to drive, instead of fly, from Florida to Colorado to reduce expenses. I had a cabin to stay in while I was there, thanks to the generosity of my friend Dr. Cynthia Reedy, but while traveling to and from, I tent-camped. I used love being in the great outdoors, “roughing it”. By camping and driving, I saved a $500 flight and a $900+ car rental and probably at least $500 in motels. I also saved the trouble and expense of shipping my frames and canvases and tools and equipment. I did buy new tires before I left, which I paid for by instructing a course for the employees of the business I had recently sold. Even so, except for the fact that I have family in Colorado, traveling this distance for an event is worthwhile as a business venture only if sales are generated.
My art/life vision is starting to manifest. A few years ago, after more than 30 years in a non-art career, I began to get a serious itch to be done with that work so that I could paint more. I continued to paint just once a week, and often blogged weekly, and late last year I sold my business. Now, I am lucky if I can get a blog written once a month, because I am painting so much more.
There often is a social element to painting en plein air, several artists painting together, working silently most of the time, but supportively interacting before and after painting. I find I enjoy that aspect immensely. It can take the sting out of challenging experiences, and it can reinforce the successful ones. The former was the case when 4 of us painted at Coastal Dune Lake Appreciation Day at Grayton Beach State Park in September. The weather was threatening, and the food vendor left soon after the festival started. There event was not very well attended, and our pavilion became the gathering place for the few die-hard sponsors and supporters. But we had each other, and that kept us there painting through the drizzle. At right is the painting I completed, showing the rich reds underneath the near grasses and bushes, and the beach dunes in the background.
I also enjoyed my first plein air painters trip that was independent of any festival or workshop. Three of us went to the mountains of North Georgia and North Carolina to paint for half a week. Our host, Theresia McInnis, had researched and mapped out a number of wonderful, scenic locations for us to paint, and we were absolutely in heaven. Below are the paintings I completed on that trip. I am happy to report that the painting titled Dry Falls sold to a tourist right off my easel.