Posts Tagged ‘Mountain Home’

First Day of the Plein Air on the White River, Cotter, Arkansas

May 19, 2011

Billingsley House - Cotter

Tripp Demonstrating at the Plein Air on the White River EventBillingsley House - Cotter

Thursday, May 19, 2011, First Day of the Plein Air on the White River, Cotter, Arkansas.  The first day is in the books.  My eyelids are heavy, but I really wish to get this information on the blog.  Yesterday, Sandi and I made the nine-hour drive from Arlington, Texas to Cotter, Arkansas to begin this event this morning at 8:00.

Twenty-seven artists registered today, and quickly dispersed throughout the thirty-mile designated radius of small Ozark Mountain towns in search of subjects to paint en plein air.  It is my privilege this year to judge the competition, and I found it difficult to avoid seeing the artists’ paintings (I am supposed to judge the works without signatures and without prior knowledge of who painted what).  It seemed that everywhere I turned throughout the day, there was an artist working at an easel!

The town of Cotter was bathed in yellow sunlight throughout this afternoon, and I think I felt some of that joy that Winslow Homer knew in 1878 when he figured it out that transparent watercolor offers a magnificent way of experiencing the effects of light shimmering off the white paper as it glows through the washes of transparent watercolor.  This afternoon I was privileged to experience the excitement of layering washes of transparent color and experiencing the changes in light that appeared through the layers from the paper surface beneath.  I cannot wait to get in on this some more tomorrow.  I have quite a few experimental ideas percolating this night.

My only responsibility today was to present a 3:00 demonstration of the plein air process in watercolor.  I chose this house built around 1914, today known as the Billingsley House.  As I looked across the backyard and attempted to paint what I saw, and enjoyed the participating artists gathered to watch the demonstration, I could not help but wonder what kind of personal history this property carried with it.  I was to find out later that evening.  Mrs. Billingsley lived alone in this house during the 1950’s and the story is that she would stand inside her fenced-in yard and visit with students walking by on their way to school.  She would walk the entire property, talking with the children all the way to her furthest boundary, and continue talking as they journeyed further and further away, en route to the school house.  No doubt much of what they were learning from textbooks contained a diminished value compared to what she had lived, witnessed and was willing to share to anyone who would listen.

Cotter was launched with the coming of the railroad around 1902 and the erection of a lumber company between 1903 and 1904.  With the lumber company came the construction of the most famous landmark houses of this small town, now with a population slightly under 1,000.

Hopefully I will be able to recover some lost sleep tonight and put in a productive day of painting tomorrow.  I already look forward to posting more tomorrow evening when the day is done.

Thanks for reading.