Monday, September 26, 2005

Fall Plein Air Retreat

Painting in Wisconsin

So we arrived in scenic Kewaunee Wisconsin on Thursday evening. The ride up was not bad, but we were happy to check into our rooms and settle in. The weekend started with an early morning model session indoors. I had forgotten how confusing some light sources can be and struggled a bit determining the temperature of the light. After lunch we ventured outdoors to paint the boats in the harbors of Lake Michigan. Everything was so beautiful. The wind was fierce but we anchored ourselves down (literally, one of the fisherman borrowed me an anchor to keep my easel stable) and began to paint. I decided on a 6x8 canvas thinking with the insane gusts of wind I would have much more success tackling a smaller canvas. The fishermen came by every so often as they were just hanging out unable to take their boats out due to the heavy winds. As I was further along in my painting one man came up to me and took a look, He said he was hoping I had chosen to paint his boat as he would have purchased it, I guess the owner of my boat had decided to stay indoors that afternoon. After packing up for dinner we drove around the town a bit scouting out locations for the following morning, How do you pick a spot when everything around you is so quaint and picturesque? After dinner we gathered up our energy for one more model session. I was lucky enough to paint next to Ken Dewaard, A wonderful painter and instructor at the Barnsite Academy. We were very fortunate to have had him there during our retreat. He and Aaron Holland ( another instructor at the academy) were gracious enough to stay late on Saturday to do a critique of our work done during the weekend. They did a wonderful job, all who participated learned so much. On Saturday morning we painted out on the beach, the weather was just perfect and the seagulls sang there song of calm restfulness. In the afternoon, we brought a costumed model outside to try and capture the dappled sunlight on a figure seated under a tree. I decided this venture may be better left to tackle in the not so near future, after many more miles of canvas are covered plein air painting minus the model. The sun light moving so fast, reflected light bouncing everywhere, getting the drawing right, I guess was a little much or perhaps I just expected too much out of myself. So I closed down early and found a simpler scene. I put my head phones on and tried to focus once more. Though I only had an hour more before our critique, I was happy to start anew and was re-energized. After the critique we enjoyed a wonderful dinner together and chatted. Sunday morning, our last day in Kewaunee and one last painting before heading back to Chicago. The fall leaves were changing and we decided to capture a bit of the season in this quaint little town. Susan and I had parked ourselves on the side of the road just near a small wood. As we began to set up we heard a sudden noise from the woods that sounded like an angry animal screaming. We were startled and jumped back from our easels. What was it? It was so loud and would not stop. We looked up in the tree and saw two animals looking down at us. I thought they were monkeys at first because of there stripped tails but was highly unlikely. It happened they were two wild cats fighting over territories. We were a little shaken up but they soon calmed down and we were able to paint. I would say the weather was the most beautiful this day and was a perfect close to a weekend of painting. If only every day was full of that much painting, soon I hope.

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