Saturday I drove to Little Mulberry Park in Gwinnett for session number four of the Parks Plein Air Challenge. I’m not sure who named this park “little” —it’s huge and encompasses a large lake and damn along with equestrian and jogging trails. I left a bit later with the idea of staying late to catch some afternoon light. The weather has been delightfully cool this spring and perfect for painting. As usual I was attracted to the water and set up with a view of one of the fishing docks looking across the lake to the earthen dam on the far shore.
Working on 9×12″ I decided to go vertical and include a tree in the composition. Keeping the background in a high key has been successful for me so I kept with the idea and worked for 4+ hours. It was my thought to warm up with a 9×12 and finish with a larger 11 x 14 that I brought with me along with me. As the day wore on I became dismayed with he dock painting— It got to busy and tight. In the end I finished up late—about 5pm but decided to try to make something out of the day and quickly got to work on the larger canvas. As is the case, most of the time I was rushed and frantic working in the late afternoon with the light changing minute to minute and an in my mind deadline. I had simply turned to my right and was inspired by a view of a small island in the lake with bird boxes and the sun lighting up the small trees and butterscotch colored shallow water. As I was working, a heron came in and alighted on one of the boxes so I sketched him in. This much looser and vigorous painting was just what I was looking for and at 6:30 I buttoned everything up and headed home.
I was a bit frustrated after wasting hours on a poor effort but relived that I took another go at it and came up with something worthwhile. With all my experience, I still get pulled into refining and trying to force my will on a bad idea. The key is to loosen up first, get the kinks out and then go at it with vigor. Some times calculated effort is trumped by inspiration and action. Easy to say —hard to do.
This Friday the painting for the Smith-Gilbert Gardens competition is due — looks like about a dozen other artist have submitted work so it should be good show. I still need to get my painting varnished and framed. The reception is on Saturday the 30th—Everyone is invited! I’ll be sure to take some shots and post a report.