Practice sunset

Note to any artist who is wishing to paint more in plein air. Painting outside is awkward, and hard, and invaluable to what it adds to your ability to see and paint inside and out. My advice: practice. Practice setting up your easel, or paint box, practice inside when no one is watching and work out the kinks of your equipment.

I will paint you a scenario from last spring…. I set up to paint the sunset on the beach, in oil, with a new travel easel. I spend the summer painting sunrise and sunsets plein air, in the DESERT, in PASTELS. Imagine my arrogance at thinking I could handle this new medium, subject, and hardware with ease. Well, as beach sunsets at popular vacation destinations tend to do…a crowd gathered, and my easel offered more of an attraction. So I was setting up a new easel, in the sand, and the wind, with a crowd curiously looking on. I had NEVER set up this easel, it was almost like the old one. ALMOST, did I bring the instructions? Nope. Was I wishing I would have practiced at home? Hmmm, maybe this screw goes this way? Or perhaps I have to turn this bracket around? I was dropping bolts in the sand and cursing myself. I finally sat down in the sand embarrassed. I forced my way through the painting, but it was awkward. I wasn’t familiar with the colors I would need. Finally I rode my bike to a coffee shop the next day to use wifi, and found a video of how to set up the easel. NOTE: parts have been reversed for shipping the first time you set up this easel you will have to completely disassemble and reassemble. I learned my lesson.

I decided to take a bit of my own advice today. Paint a sunset (from a photo), no wind, no crowd, no pressure. I set my timer and set to work, I learned there are colors I wished I would have had and wished I would have pre toned the canvas. Good lessons for the next beach painting session.

Cello at Sunset

I wish I could add the music that I heard as I painted this sunset on Chimney Rock. It was a lovely evening.

Notice my 4 year old resting her head in my lap as I painted and we listened to music, and those are my son’s feet behind me. He did a painting, too, we shared a box of pastels.

Sunset 8:10pm

The World Is Too Much With Us
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

Miriam Rose in Rose Light

I love the way everything glows rose as the sun is setting. This painting was done from a photo under the skillful eye of artist Anna Rose Bain. I getting more comfortable with portraits and oils with each try. Thank you Rick, for encouraging me to keep trying.

Final Swing

We have all been there…watching the sky turn darker and knowing that any moment the dinner bell will ring and we will have stop reaching our toes to the sky, soon to wash up and help put dinner on the table. Those final swings are often the best, you feel the wind in your hair and the chill in the air more on the swing or two after the bell.

For you it might be the last sunset of a trip to the beach, the last present under the tree, the last few drops of your mom’s perfume that has long stopped being manufactured, or holding someone’s hand as you wait for the final breath. We often experience some regret for loosing track of all the sunsets or moments before this last one. For years my husband worked on an oncology ward. He passed some of the many lessons he learned from his patients on to us. Most people don’t suffer on their death beds wishing they had worked more, or saying “so glad we skipped the hike in the woods with our small children to organize the garage.” He often punctuates a family outing, telling us someday something will separate all of us. Far from being dark or morbid, I have come to take these reminders like a snooze button on an alarm, allowing me to continue what I was doing with a new awareness that opens me to the gift. Perhaps if you are quiet, you can hear the dinner bell ring….