2 1/2 Hour Flight

Watercolor, 22 x 30 inches


Yesterday, a short break in the weather (between cold rain storms), prompted a friend and I to go paint en plein air.

We arrived on the site around 12:15 PM . . .a light breeze was blowing off the harbor water and sun was out. If you have ever been to a large harbor with both working boats and pleasure boats, it can be a confusing morass of stuff. So, we took our time wandering and looking for the best spot from which to paint.

Why, I do not know, but I decided to really challenge myself: Paint a full sheet: 22 x 30 inches in the short time we had set aside to paint . . . .I had be gone by 3PM. By the time we had finished surveying the harbor for an ideal view and painting site, it was near 1PM. Two Hours left and I had a full sheet to finish in that time!! This is crazy!!! Who can do thaaaaat?

I set up my easel and paints and began the scramble. Pencil in hand I chose two boats among the hoard of masts, tarps, wires, lines, docks, net hangers and paraphenalia. This was going to be a race! So . . . .I began to think: Begin with a middle gray and block in the shadows, forget accuracy and just reach for blobs of color and value. Just react. Don't get to concerned with painting 'stuff'. Just react . . .and do it fast.

The wind was blowing lightly, so my easel was in danger of being thrown into the water. I couldn't leave it to consider my progress . . . .I had to be right on top of it in case it decided to behave like a falling tower and begin to fall toward the drink. Out came my two inch brush and I began slapping on wet paint . . .it ran, but I continued to "fly" unconcerned and just paint. To make matters worse, the paint in my palette was drying as fast as I would wet it. Mix a wash and get two strokes before it dried. (This was becoming nuts!)

I kept going. By then the wind was blowing. The board on which my paper was mounted was moving around like a flopping sail! I held it with one hand and painted with the other! It was 3PM. Thanks goodness, it was time to quit.

This was the result. I like the loose, direct quality of the piece, but it is by no means a strong painting: When you paint in the sun, the paint bakes and becomes a bit muddy. Oh well! What the hell. We got some sun, fresh air and different scenery out of the deal. In all, it was a great day. This painting will be a piece of scrap for some other purpose (but my wife actually likes it!). But you, Dear Reader, get to see that $%*&# happens! Us painters have to stick together knowing that our work doesn't always score big . . .or score at all. Plein Aire distractions or not, that is just the way art is. Some days the results are good and some days they aren't . . . especially when you are flying fast and loose.