Here we find ourselves, suddenly, not in a critical speculation, but in a holy place, and should go very warily and reverently. We stand before the secret of the world, there where Being passes into Appearance, and Unity into Variety.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Poet”
Today marks the second time this week I tried to paint en plein air while fishing in a Colorado mountain pond. This time I clipped a small bell to the end of my rod so I could stare at the landscape and try to paint, merely listening for the occasional strike. As it turned out, it was a good day for fishing as I managed to land seven rainbows. The painting was a tad more difficult as I began with the sun drenching everything before me beautifully, then, within thirty minutes, the skies darkened, the landscape lost all highlights and shadows and intensity of color, and the temperatures dropped into the upper thirties. And then it rained on us. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the experience of trying to capture what lay before me.
When I began this work, the dead tree in the heart of the composition was almost white against a brilliant forest, and the sagging limbs looked like the ribcage of a skeleton. So I used my masquepen on it, which is tricky at this altitude–the fluid bubbles out of the steel nib uncontrollably, and I had to scribble fast and loose with it. Then when it was time to replace the lid by inserting the pin into the nib, that proved difficult because the fluid continued to dribble out of the nib; there was no stopping it. Then, when the skies darkened, the dead tree all but disappeared into its surroundings, taking on a dull warm gray. I chose to keep it bright against its background and tried to keep my colors intense, though they were no longer so in the reality that lay before me. Such are the experiences of doing plein air in the midst of a living environment.
I hope that what I’ve just written hasn’t come across as negative. The day was beautiful even if the weather and environment didn’t pose still for me. When I gaze into the glories of mountain scenery I cannot help but wonder what I ever could have done to deserve such a Gift. Emerson got it right; this was a holy place and I felt nothing short of reverence as I stood enveloped in it. I’ve always said my favorite past times were fishing and plein air painting. This week has marked the first time I have tried to do both simultaneously. And it was a joy.
Thanks for reading.
I paint in order to learn.
I journal when I feel alone.
I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.