Thursday, September 5, 2013

Plein Air Painting- Yes, me!!

 So many of my friends are plein air painters. Perhaps it's my many years of living in Alaska, specifically Kodiak where the average number of sunny/partly sunny days comes to about 130, is why it never occurred to me to do much painting outdoors. Frankly, I think there are fewer than 130 sunny days in Kodiak, but I can't argue with statistics. That doesn't take into account the windy days and the cold days. But we're here now, in sunny Sequim, Washington, where we have a LOT of sunny days.

So when the Peninsula Fine Arts Center of Port Angeles came up with Paint the Peninsula, I thought, why not?

Participants have to have all of their substrates stamped for the event, meaning every canvas, every board, every watercolor needs to say "Paint the Peninsula" on the back. We have September 4, 5, 6 to paint plein air, and turn in our work for jurying on Saturday, September 7, one of which will be accepted into the show/sale that will be held Saturday night. Sunday is an added opportunity with a Quick Draw (timed two hour painting session) at Camaraderie Cellars. By Sunday I will really be needing a glass of wine. (Actually, I needed one last night, and will most likely follow suit tonight!)

Here's how it's going so far:
Yesterday my husband and I drove 30 miles to a town called Joyce, Washington, since it was on the list of recommended places to paint. We stopped at the Joyce General Store, Est 1911. If you can't find what you're looking for in there you probably don't need it. Two things I forgot to bring- an eraser (I know, I know. But it's a security thing.) which they had a fishbowl full of at 10 cents each, and oil painting medium. No art supplies in the general store, but I bought a small bottle of olive oil. Extra virgin. Five bucks. Works fine.

While I was remembering how to untangle the easel, my husband struck up a conversation with Leonard, the store's owner. Leonard's wife's grandfather built the store as a mercantile for the loggers. Leonard is 81 years old. He knows a lot.

While I painted away, finding not much satisfaction in my work, I might add, there were numerous people who stopped by to chat, ask questions, or just look. The day was overcast, so there was little in the way of contrasting values to add interest to my painting. But I found the most interest to be in the people- people who are fiercely proud of their town, their store and their history. Leonard was sporting a sweatshirt which he designed that read "University of Joyce- Mea Culpa Non." That's Latin for "Not my fault." I had to buy a sweatshirt. With it comes a document -signed by Leonard- that is a "Degree in Insignificance." Too many people, he said, put credence in their degrees. When he was in the working world, outside of Joyce, the only reason they looked at degrees for potential employees was if they made it through college, they probably had the tenacity to get a job done. If their transcripts showed good grades, then chances are they had good enough attendance and paid attention.

I told Leonard I attended the School of Hard Knocks and majored in Situational Awareness. He liked that.

After four hours of painting, I did a small sketch in the journaling style which took about a half hour, and we headed for lunch at the Blackberry Cafe where Roxanne makes the best blackberry pie we'd ever tasted! She has a bunch of first place ribbons from the Clallam County Fair to prove it, too.

As we drove out of town, we crossed bridges sporting signs that read "Itsa Creek" and "Uppa Creek."

The people of Joyce are pretty cool.

Forecast for thunderstorms. Swell. Started out seeing lightning over the Olympic Mountains. Counted "one chimpanzee, two chimpanzee, etc." Got to 10 or 12 before the thunderclaps made me jump. But....I paid my entry fee, so let's saddle up and go!

First to a farm out Port Williams Road about 10 minutes from home. Found a way to set up with the easel protected under the hatch of the minivan and painted the field, the mountains, the clouds. Life is good. Canada geese are on the move everywhere this time of year, but since it's plein air, they go by too fast to be in the paintings. (When I do some studio work from photos later on, the geese will be featured.) In between rain showers, things worked pretty well.

Next stop, John Wayne Marina to work on a little sailboat with a picturesque reflection in the still water. The "in between rain showers" was the drive from point A to point B. The actual painting session was plagued with thunder, lightning, pouring rain, and feeling good about being close to home where I know the paramedics.

Third stop, 3 Crabs Road, which dead ends at the water's edge where I could see the Dungeness Lighthouse in the distance, and lightning strikes out over the Straits. This painting turned out to be one quick study, since I was finally getting the hang of working on location, what to bring, how to set up the vehicle for efficiency and get the most out of this new experience.

More progress tomorrow......Additional images to come later!


  1. Luv'd reading your Paint the Peninsula and journey to Joyce adventures! I'll have some of that blackberry pie please and an engaging exchange with Leonard! Thanks for taking us with you!

  2. Thought your account of the fireworks on Thursday was hilarious. Think I'll quote it at the awards if they make me talk. You go girl!


I welcome your comments and feedback.