Plein air weekend—Country boy and city slicker

This weekend I worked both ends of the stick, hanging at home on Saturday and then going downtown to paint on Sunday.

Saturday’s effort was enlivened by my dog Bonnie who I gave a chance to get out of the house and accompany me. She’s getting a bit old but her favorite thing to do is go swimming in the creek that runs through our property. Most of the two and a half acres I own are wooded and on a hill. At the bottom of the hill is a creek that wonders through the neighborhoods here and ends up dumping into the Chattahoochee. It’s very overgrown but has it’s charm and I have painted it dozens of times. After all it’s close and I’m all about painting the places you see and experience every day. Bonnie wondered around while I worked to simplify this rather complicated view. I know it well having painted from this same spot three times in the last year—once in acrylic. The dog ended up getting bored and proceeded to sit in the creek while I finished up. When I got back up to the house I gave her a wash down with the hose and discovered about a million burs in her fur. This took nearly and hour to sort out and I was rushed to get to the store for some steaks and wine. I had invited Don and Suzy Maier over for dinner as a favor returned for hosting a few painting days at his house last spring. We had a nice evening with dinner on the screen porch talking about painting and drinking wine well into the night.

The painting had to be touched up a bit and simplified on Monday and it really helped. It has the impressionist mood I was looking for —that feeling of when the light is filters through the leaves and reflects off the running water.—”A moment of reflections”

Sunday was a different story. I was challenged by my brother to paint the center of the city so I loaded up the car headed downtown around 10. My plan was to park in one of the public garages and pay for secure parking and then spend the day right in the busiest section of town with a view of as much as I could handle. No problem on the parking and I knew the spot I wanted to start with. The Flat Iron building is  a very famous early skyscraper here in Atlanta. I once saw a painting by Ken Auster of it and was inspired to get down and give it a try in plein air. It’s located just south of the center of town at the corner of Peachtree and Forsyth. When I got there the light was flat with little shadow  so with the thought of doing two paintings I turned and was delighted with a view north right up Peachtree Street with the IBM building in the far distance, The Ritz Carlton, even the Hard Rock Cafe.  I used my larger 11 x 14 canvas  and set up right next to the street as it takes a bend down to the Flat Iron. The view is very centered, almost like I was in the middle of the street.

I was anticipating doing two paintings but really got involved in this complicated view. My confidence is high but I found that I got bogged down in details. Consequently this took until nearly 5PM to work out and while I was there the light went from left to right. Also the day was extremely windy— forcing me to load up the bag on tripod with everything I could find. I dealt with hundreds of passer byes all day none of whom were to much of a bother. That’s part of my interest in plein air and when you set up in a busy area you’re asking for it. As a painting it’s not as loose or confident as I would like but as an experience it was wonderful. The next time I’ll get that Flat Iron Building and keep it looser.

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