To the right is my first plein -air pain- ting at the end of the second day. I’m planning on returning later in the summer, when the colors of the foliage are present, to work on it further.
I finished the afternoon at the falls further upstream. I began the second painting by painting much more thinly. As you can see from the photograph, there is a large flat rock obscuring my view of the water below the falls, but I’ve decided to remove it in the painting. I didn’t get that far on this painting, but I like my start better and look forward to returning.
Plein-air pain- ting along a pretty stream with the con- stant sound of the flowing water and no bugs, especially with a friend along to while away the time in conversation and reading aloud, has to be one of the pleasantest possible ways to spend an afternoon.
And we didn’t pick up a single tick…..
The light is, of course, con- stantly chan- ging. I knew from my previous visit that 2:00 was the optimal time for my first set-up location. By 4:30 the light had changed the scene completely, so I knocked off at that point. I’ve posted the canvas after two hours of painting.
After that, Josephine and I went for a walk up stream. There was another spot, shown below with me sitting on a big flat rock, that I wanted to paint on the following day. It is almost entirely in shadow until about 4:00, so I planned to go there after I’d spent the earlier part of the afternoon at my first set-up location.
The rock ledge at the bottom of my painting at the end of the first day appears disconcertingly upright in the painting. I would have to do some- thing about that. Also, the tree on the left would benefit by being narrow- er. That way, I could brush in a little more water on the left side of it.
I’m not very experienced in plein-air painting and am no doubt making all the possible mistakes one can make. I chose a detail of the landscape that I found particularly lovely: I could look through the clear water at the rocks, ledges and ripples of sand that lay at the bottom. Also the rock ledge invited me to scramble down the steep bank and get close to the water. The psychological invitation in that appealed to me. (I did in fact scramble down the bank on the following day, because my camera lens cap rolled down the embankment and fell into the stream, and I had to retrieve it.)
By focusing on this detail of the landscape, however, I’ve made it a challenge for the viewer to orient himself. The hillock upon which I’m standing isn’t in the picture, nor is the extension of the ledge that creates the near bank of the stream. That is why the rock ledge appears to “thrust upward” rather than “lie along.”
The adjustments I made to the composition will show on my Blog for Day Two.
This picture was my husband, Matt’s, idea. He took me to the Eau Claire Dells as a surprise and suggested that I paint a picture of a person reading Thoreau amidst the rocks and rapids. So, I asked him to pose for it. It’s a beautiful place. I’d never even heard of it, which is incredible considering I’ve lived in Wisconsin for almost forty years. Matt knows all the back roads though.
Here is a selection of what he may be reading:
“If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. But do not care to convince him. Men will believe what they see. Let them see.”
“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestioned ability of a man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.”
“Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.”
“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”
…and my favorite:
“There is no remedy for love, but to love more.”
Reading Thoreau, Eau Claire Dells, WI, oil on canvas, 11×14, Artist’s Collection
This John Deere Weather Vane is another one of my first tries at plein-air painting. I employed a technique I use all the time in studio painting: I underpainted the trees on the left and the foreground with a fucshia red and let it show through. It enlivens the dark mass of green foliage. This raised-bed garden and vane are located on my Aunt and Uncle Hogan’s farm in Aitkin, Minnesota. It was a hot day and I was out there with my french easle that is always falling apart and has irreplaceable hardware…..Thank goodness for duct tape! I’ve just bought myself a wonderful solution to the problem, Fed-exed to my door. More on that in another blog. All I need now for plein air painting is a head-to-toe mesh bug suit to protect me from deerflies and mosquitoes.
Below is two hours worth of a new painting of an cheese danish in progress. I may add another element to the composition, or simply change the color of the cloth. I wouldn’t mind at all if there were a pattern on the fabric. I love pattern on pattern. It takes a lot to overtax
I’ll be away from home and my paintbrushes for the weekend. Can’t wait to get back to the cheese danish and Anna Reading next week.
John Deere Weather Vane, 8×10, oil on canvas, Sold
This painting was done en plein air in Eagle River, Wisconsin, where we have a cabin in the woods, and finished in my studio later. At Burnt Rollway Dam there is a lock and a lift for boats and pontoons going up and down the Eagle River Chain of Lakes. I painted this at the canoe landing (left foreground). My husband is an avid Musky fisherman. Somehow we are going to combine plein-air painting and fishing this summer, most probably with an arrangement like this, where he leaves me on shore for a while.
Here is an excerpt from Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey”:
…For I have learned
To look on nature…
And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts, a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods….
I too am a “lover of the meadows and the woods”, an inveterate hiker in the North Woods and in the hilly, pastoral landscape of Southwestern Wisconsin. I’ve been to Tintern Abbey too. Wales is gorgeous! The above lines will remind readers of the Bible, I think and hope, of Romans 1:20.
Burnt Rollway Dam, 9×12 on untempered masonite panel, Private Collection