My First Plein Air Event or painting outside anywhere except my home and the boat docks in Tennessee has made a lover of Plein Air Art out of me. I don't usually paint very fast. In fact, I am probably one of the slowest artists around. I am a stickler for details and details take more time. However, I have been trying to "stop" more quickly...to "see Less" and "More" at the same time. So when the Ellijay Vineyards and Gilmer County joined forces and arranged their first Plein Art Vineyard Event, I decided it was time. Time for me to accept a new challenge, time to leave the safety of my loft at home, to leave the never ending art supplies at home and to get out and allow the fresh air, sounds and scenery consume my creative juices.
Besides the Georgia Gnats and the intense heat in the afternoon sun, I truly enjoyed my new experience. Meeting other artists, seeing how they attacked the canvas, what they used and how they used it was definitely an eye-opening experience. Before the event, I started training.. Yes, my training did involve tennis shoes and exercise (carrying my equipment), but I started painting outside the cabin and trying to paint something presentable within 2 hours. I finally did manage to complete a painting in two hours after watching YouTube instructions and reading many articles by Plein Air Artists. It is true, you can teach an old dog or Artist some new tricks. I completely changed how I started my approach to begin a painting and the amount of mediums and types I used. I used less colors. I aimed for 6 tubes, but probably used 8 different colors. I only used black once. I also tried painting on Cherokee Lake in Morresburg, TN at the my brother and sister-in-law's boat dock. I was in some intense shade and realized that after I came out into the open with what I thought was a beautiful painting, the colors were completely different because of the lighting under the roof of the docks. So when setting up in Ellijay, I decided to use my white canopy I use for festivals. There are other smaller umbrellas available, but my husband and in-laws went with me so I needed more shade room. The Fest canopy worked well! My husband even went and bought a battery-operated small fan to attach to my French easel. My sister-in-law sat by my side the entire weekend and was a tremendous help anticipating my every need even before I did. My husband and Brother-in-law were also a big help setting up and spending most of the weekend with us.
The first morning I arrived before anyone else, even the Vineyard workers, and rejoiced in the great Sky God left for me after Sunrise. Even though I had staked out the vineyards before hand, I knew immediately where and what to paint as soon as I arrived. We set up next to a little stream with a foot bridge facing the vineyard with the dirt road traveling right into the colorful sun. Besides the beautiful view, you could actually hear the stream babbling over the rocks and birds and insects talking, feel a cool breeze thankfully, and smell the wild flowers around us. The Vineyard dogs came first to welcome me to their home, wet from a dip in the creek. Then the Vineyard Worker came and I explained why we had crawled under the fence. The time of opening was different on his sheet than mine. The Vineyard employees and the Gilmer Arts Hosts were very hospitable and welcoming. They kept us supplied in cold water and brought us lunch.
I was able to finish my first painting at the Vineyard in about 5 hours. Surprisingly, my First Plein Air Painting, "Sunshine Bridge at the Cartecay" was chosen from among the other 13 Artist's submissions as the "Vintner's Choice Award" on the last evening at the Auction, where I also sold two more paintings from the weekend. Twenty percent of the Proceeds were given to the Boys and Girls Club of Ellijay. After lunch, I moved locations and painted an old chimney that was the original chimney of the old homestead that had been torn down and now used as a Patio Venue for the Vineyard. This painting, "Chimney Love" was sold at the auction to a young couple that run a local Tavern/Grill in Downtown Ellijay. So needless to say, I was happy with the results of my first day.
I will always remember my first day and the entire experience. I thank my husband and family for supporting me in this event. I thank my new and old artist friends for supporting and promoting and just putting up with all the hoopla of my event on Facebook and allowing me to share my excitement. I will definitely use what I have learned in my "indoor paintings" as well as any new attempts of outdoor painting. And next time, I will tell you about Day 2 of the Event... not as pretty as Day 1. :)