Monday, October 10, 2011

Plein Air Follow-through—More or Less

Well, after all my posturing about getting out of the studio and painting en plein air, I made myself do it! I mean, what could be better than a 70° autumn day in New Hampshire?
I started with a pencil sketch and quickly got bored and my back started aching. Once I sketched out the basic lines, I switched to an indelible black ink marker and wondered why I was even bothering.
The Perfectionist sitting on my shoulder, whispered, “You call yourself an artist? Is that what you call perspective? You haven’t laid down one plum line! And that, after resorting to an eraser!”
“What—you think I can’t see that?” I kept at it, telling myself that I really hate sketching. I was about to abandon my aspiration and simply call it an attempt. Then my Motivational Critic jumped in.
“What! You’re not even going to follow through and break out the paint—Oh, how pathetic are you!”
So, I cracked open my paint. After about 60 seconds, I got bored again and just wanted it to be over with, so started laying down paint more quickly (it dawned on me that this was likely what I should have been doing in the first place).
I shrugged the Perfectionist off my shoulder and heard my MC whisper, “At least you can say you tried and followed through—good for you!”
“But I don’t have to do this again, do I?”
“Well, did you have fun?”
“Not really.”
“Then why do it?”
“I don’t know— It’s such a romantic notion…I just really wanted to be the artist who could whip out my paints anywhere and produce something really stellar.”
“I feel as if I’m stagnating in the studio.”
“Really? But you produce some pretty remarkable stuff in there. You like it—I’ve seen how you study it afterward with satisfaction. Why can’t you be happy with that?”
“I’m not sure…”
“Well, you need to figure that out.”
“Yeah, I know…maybe I’ll carry my paints and tablet around just in case…”
Sigh. “Whatever…” 


  1. Maybe the inner conflict isn't really such a bad thing? Or maybe it is. I sure don't know. If only the perfectionist and free spirit could call a truce and embrace the beauty each has to offer. Wouldn't it be great if it was that easy!

  2. As much as I love painting, I'm simply not capable of creating work like that. Beautiful.

  3. And I thought I was the only one who had these kinds of conversations with myself... hehe

    It's beautiful! :)

  4. Sharon, I think the wrestling between these two different entities would be manageable if they’d confine their conflict to only one aspect of our life, but they affect everything!

    Charlie, Your profile says you paint—would sure love it if you’d post some of your work sometime!

    Michelle, I guess a lot of us artistic souls have these dialogues. What’s frustrating is that even if I figure stuff out one day, the next day it’s open for re-negotiation!

  5. Now this proves to me, to the world, and yourself that you are a paintist extraordinaire. You didn't want to do it, you disliked doing it, you scribbled some un-plumbed pencil marks on a paper, and in a fit of angst slapped some paint on the whole thing, and produced delicious product.

    'Now ladies and gentlemen, you will note that this gem is from her Angst Period. We think this is her first Desperation Painting and we are searching for more.'

    Did I mention -- I adore it!

  6. Aw, Jerry...You know I did this painting for you--if you hadn't 'nagged'--err, encouraged--me I'm not sure I would have followed through! I kept thinking--I promised Jerry--now FINISH it! :) If I had your address, I'd send it to you! :)

  7. Gee whiz, I have the same internal dialogues, and I carry my stuff everywhere and end up not using it. It feels like a security blanket, but I'm starting to find ways to trick myself into painting. Your painting is awesome, by the way! I'm glad that I passed through here, you've given me some inspiration and I wish to express my deepest gratitude! :)

  8. Seanskii, I think I might carry some bare-bones supplies, just in case I have a moment of bravery! At least it might make me feel more like the artist I claim to be.

    Thanks so much for stopping by and expressing such kind words--they really do make a difference...

  9. Send it to me. I love it! If that's what you can do when you are "conflicted" I'd love to see what happens when you resolve your demons.

  10. Liza, hehehe...I doubt I’ll ever resolve all my demons...Not sure there’s an artist alive who isn’t at least a bit conflicted (and writers certainly fall into that category!)

  11. Hello "You"!!!... Long time no talk!

    Glad to see that you made the commitment to take your... "on your shoulder perfectionist" outdoors!

    Despite all of your remarks supporting defeat... I would like to add my own words of praise and encouragement!

    I like the result that you have posted... and you're right.There is ceratinly a lot of "plum lining" goin' on in it... but it's fresh... colourful and honest Bridget! Very appealing!

    On your next trip "out there"... and I really hope there will be one... leave the POYS person at home... and take along Tink and Peter with you!

    Make fanciful and joyful strokes... using the pencil/marker in the palm of your hand... using your elbow instead of the wrist... and then!

    Play with colour.... wet-on-wet... wash... then the drybrush you use so magically to "tidy" it! Then call it a day! Compare your results and feelings about both experiences! Plein air painting is a process... which too... takes time and LOTS of practice... and yes... the F...(Failure) word! HA HA!!!

    I'll look for that piece and until then...

    Good Painting and Writing!
    Warmest regards,

  12. Oh Bruce, thank you so much for stopping by and leaving me that comment! You make me feel like going out and trying it again...I know it's a mental thing--you may not believe this, but I can be a bit tense, lol! (Okay, more than a bit). Sometimes I feel as if I have the energy to push it back, and sometimes it sucks me dry.

    I'm still mulling over all you said here, and I will refer back to it frequently--your commendation and encouragement are much appreciated...:)

  13. You are forgetting to take your notepad and paints with you when you step outside!

  14. No, Jerry, I'm not forgetting...I'm just not going outside too much these days! ...and it's true, I just haven't been in the mood...

  15. It's gotta' be the holiday blues. The tragedy and depression of the holidays. But then, that is the time to paint....allow the horror of life to come out on canvass.

    Okay, maybe not. I just want you to be okay. Okay?

  16. Don't you worry Jerry--it's not the blues...just a little distracted with PUBLISHING! :) I'm sure I'll get back into painting this winter...

  17. pretty painting. i have similar dialogues within. i'm cracking down on the voice calling me names whenever i color outside the lines, so to speak. i've also noticed that the mean voice has gained some steam in recent years, so i am truly attempting to tamp that guy down. we shall see:)

  18. Ed, what is it about us artist types?! Just when we make some headway, there's always some creepy voice trying to bring us down. Good luck with "tamping down" yours!

    One day, I will be more comfortable coloring outside the least that's what I'm shooting for.


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