Using Your Imagination

New Dawn 20 x 16 acrylic on Canvas

The McMichael Plein Air Painting Competiton was a wonderful experience and something I will not soon forget. The true beauty of the event was that the grounds are fabulous, the gallery was top notch and the vounteers and organization were spectacular.

We started day one with a map of the grounds, fresh made coffee and treats in the log cabin style meeting hall, which was to be our home perch for 2 days. The Event co-ordinator Erica, told us that we were exempt from parking fees and the gallery was open for us to wander though, again no charge to participants.

There were tents set up around the grounds as rain was in the forecast. I naturally headed into the forest as I was hoping to catch some dappled rays shining through trees. I was rewarded with a breathtaking sunrise, just catching the branchs on a steep hill. I walked a bit farther on and found a gorgeous river view with several artists already starting their day. I went a bit farther but could not forget the sunlit hill that I had seen, so I headed back to what I now considered my spot.

There was ample space to set up an easel and I organized my gear and primed my canvas with napthol crimson. I then took several reference photos of the spot so that when the lighting changed later in the day, I would have a memory of it. That was the best decision I made as it turned out that I had only a couple of hours before torrential rain came down. I was about half way through my painting when I felt the first few drops and I quickly packed up my gear and headed to the meeting hall.

There the organizors of the event told us that we were welcome to stay in the cabin and paint from reference there. I thought that would be not as much fun as painting outdoors so I decided to visit the gallery. I would come back the second day and complete my painting with the new dawn.

I returned on day two finding the drive much shorter for some reason and it was also faster for me to set up. The sun was glowing again through the trees as I set up my easel and paint. I managed to paint for about a half hour before I noticed the change in the light. Then I felt the first rain drops through the trees. It was getting warm out so I was sure the clouds would clear, but a half hour later, it was obvious that we were in for some weather.

I trudged up the hill and landed again in the log cabin, but this time, there were a few other artists there already. The words, “if you can’t beat them join” them entered my mind. I am so glad that I did as I found the light much better and the company was fabulous. Hillary and John were there and Karen  came in a bit later. Kathy came in with some paintings and I also saw Bridget and met another wonderful volunteer named Miriam.

I stayed there for a short while and then Kathy said, hey the weather was clearing up and it was getting really hot out there. I had started to work on the painting pretty steady by then and I decided that I would work more from my imagination then the reference photos. It was actually my neighbour John who mentioned that he does that quite often. To me, it made more sense to stay put and just have a bit of fun with my painting, using it as a learning experience. Another thing that my painting neighbour John said is something that will stick with me forever. He said that we were working in Plein Air Conditioning!

The real surprise of the day is what follows. My painting, New Dawn received first place in the canvas category.

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