Kelsey Arboretum, Boxford, Massachusetts
acrylic on canvas panel
I've been eager to get out and paint, but the weather hasn't been too agreeable. We had one really warm week (when I was swamped with projects!) but then it turned cold again. This morning didn't feel too chilly, and after catching up on some of my favorite plein air painters blogs (make sure you check out Sonya Johnson's pastels!) I decided that I NEEDED to get out!
I was so eager to get out, that of course I forgot my hat and gloves, so I knew I wouldn't last too long - but I figured any time out would be a start. I have promised myself that I would take the pressure off myself to "produce" when painting en plein air and just enjoy the process - and realize that I learn something from each experience, even when the painting is not satisfactory. I also told myself that it is okay to paint sitting, with my tiny box in my lap if that makes me feel more comfortable. I think I am a little intimidated by setting up with an easel - it makes me feel really self conscious! I plan on getting a little camp stool to throw in the back of my car so I can figure out what will work best for me.
I have also told myself that it is even okay to paint from the back of my car when needed, so I don't have to wait for perfect conditions or a "perfect" spot - that I don't need to do things a "certain" way. Isn't it funny how some of us feel like we need to give ourselves "permission" to find our own way? I love painting still lifes, but something keeps drawing me back to painting outdoors - maybe it is just the love of nature and landscapes in general. I know my landscape techniques need a lot of work, but it is going to take a lot of practice to get even close to where I would like to be.
Anyways, today I headed to the little arboretum around the corner from my house. Some forsythia in bloom, some green buds, but not much color at all. It looks like the Korean Rhododendrons may have tried to bloom in the warm weather we had earlier, but then were thwarted by the later frosts. The bushes had no leaves at all, but had some shriveled up purple flowers - very strange looking. I wandered into the edge of the woods and spotted some wonderfully shaped old dead trees. I believe this one is a Canadian Hemlock. I'd like do a few studies of the tree - I think it might have potential as a subject of a larger studio painting.
I sat on a big rock - and found that I like working with the box on my lap. So the painting was quick - and rough - but I was glad to get out there and am looking forward to an active plein air season!