Plein Aire Extraordinare
April 09, 2018
Forget painting in the quiet evening sunset by the side of a slow flowing canal, trees swaying in unison with the passing of a warm breeze; forget painting outside the café, sipping strong coffee, watching the light change on the cathedral across the square or on fields of grain and haystacks in the sunset. Of course, Monet did it all, and so well, in the loveliest of circumstances...well, okay, he did have the pressure of needing to feed a large family by brush alone. But, forget Monet. Who goes painting en plein aire in Alaska in December
My art buddies, that's who! Sometimes it takes more than one artist to make some paint come out of the tube. That's where the art buddy system comes into play; our mantra, "If you'll go, I will, too," is really put to the test in winter.
We dress in layers, layers, and more layers, and end up looking very much alike in our long coats, multiple scarves, hats, and gloves. All but one of us, one who is impervious to the cold; she who sits at her easel wearing a jaunty straw boater as the wind whips the icy cold water on the channel into tiny cyclones that speed north toward town.
The rest of us, after a walk up and down the beach and around the old mining buildings, beat a retreat to the relative warmth and shelter of our car, there to devour a picnic of scones with jam and butter, a treat provided by our good friend and neighbor who knew better than to actually join us.
We took photos, made sketches, and banged our hands together in futile attempts to get our blood flowing down to our fingertips while our intrepid friend completed her small oil painting. Not a lot of art was committed onto paper or canvas that day, but, dazzled by the beauty of sunshine sparkling on the water, ice on the beach, and fresh snow on the mountains, we went home with our fellowship confirmed and our heads full of imagery that might someday become paintings, but that was already securely locked into our memory banks.