Sunday, November 15, 2009

Working plein air - the hazards

Norfolk, changing seasons, some past plein air oil paintings, Vivien Blackburn

I'm up to my eyes in work at the moment and so paintings are going slowly. I have to wrestle with a printer in a minute - it insists there is a paper jam - and there isn't. I want to print Sam's book.

As I'm not managing to get out to sketch I thought I'd write today about the downside to console myself.

Like ...................
  • - the winter trip to sketch when the wind howled straight off the sea, usually we could shelter in the dunes and somewhere we'd be able to get out of the wind. Not that day. The top right hand sketch was done in a tiny 6inch square sketch book in oils. It was the only thing I could hold still enough - a larger book just kept flipping in the wind and my hand with it, every time I got the paintbrush near. It's about the only thing I managed that day for a long day out, 200 mile round trip and hypothermia.
  • - a bitterly cold day with uninteresting light, working on one beach, moving to another to get some shelter, realising mobile phone was missing on first beach (and stupidly switched off - so no simple matter of ringing it on friends phone to find it :>( ) - returning to original beach as darkness fell, searching miles of identical looking dunes by torchlight until the battery went - friend realising she had now lost her handbag somewhere amongst the dunes whilst searching - walking a mile along the beach to the home of the warden of the nature reserve - him helping seach - finding handbag but not phone - arriving back home in the early hours of the morning (it's 100 miles away) and finding my phone in friends bag 8>O, she'd scooped it up by mistake - and no decent paintings to show for a long, cold, frustrating day.
  • - driving away at the end of a day painting only to hear a clatter as we drove onto the main road - yes, the paintings I'd left on the roof as we loaded up - we did rescue them unharmed :>)
  • -spectators - running commentary from behind when a family, with miles and miles of dunes on an empty beach to choose from, chose to sit just above us. 'Look she's using her fingers now' - 'what bit is she painting?' - 'she's using a knife now' - ' you could do that ....'
  • -a bossy bossy grandmother directing every move of her grandchildren building a sandcastle - no artistic input from them, the poor kids were just the labourers! 'no, no we don't want that - fetch one of those.....' etc etc Until finally she spotted us sketching. 'Go and look what those ladies are painting' they were directed - no polite request - I'd taken such a dislike to her that I just looked her in the eye and deliberately shut my book! She moved off, still directing those poor kids every move :>(

  • - sitting working wrapped up like Mrs Michelin in layers and layers of - ok not very smart painting clothes - in our little igloo tents for shelter and being asked by passing walkers if we'd 'been there all night'????? bag ladies????? tramps and hoboes?????
  • - being told by another passing walker that they run classes at the local community centre if we wanted to learn to paint ....
  • - trying to stop midges committing suicide and gaining immortality by landing in my wet oil painting
  • carrying heavy bags of paints etc long distances along dry sand at the top of the beach - oh how I hate that dry sand for walking in, and the scrambling up the dunes - give me Cornwall where the tide comes in properly and sand is decently firm and there are rocks!
Now I feel a bit less deprived :>)

21 comments:

Sherrie Y said...

I am chuckling away over here.... oh, how familiar these adventures! But today it's snowing in the Rockies, so I shall have to content myself with a cuppa and sketch out the window, sans bugs, commentators, wind, wet, road, dark. Wait a minute... WHY do we work outside? Oh, right. It's more fun!

Irina said...

I love the paintings very much. And the stories are the plot for a film about happy life of painters. Sorry, but I could not stop laughing. Specially about the guy from local art school. Turn off/turn on is my original repair method for any appliances :-) Good luck and thank you!

vivien said...

:>D fun in retrospect maybe? - nah on a good day it's brilliant :>)

Irina I've tried the on/offs and even thumping it! it's not listening yet .....

Lindsay said...

Well, now I too am consoled about not getting out...laughing too but only in sympathy. I can only hope to eventually collect stories this "rich".

Lisa McShane said...

Another one: yellow jackets. They seem drawn to linseed oil! And like to sting my fingers...

Africantapestry and Myfrenchkitchen said...

he he..very entertsaining vivien and very typical of plein air painting! you nake it sound like fun to be out there exposed to all these "downfalls"!
ronelle

Julie Broom said...

some great anecdotes - love that your friend had your phone all along :-)what a nightmare!

Sarah Wimperis said...

ooh you makes I laugh! So right, it can be a nightmare, the phone malarky sounds terrible!
Hope the printer behaves, sams book looks lovely

vivien said...

Oh I envy you the canoe Lindsay - I know you've told funny stories about Leaky :>D

Lisa. Yellow Jackets - ouch! we get wasps but rarely see hornets - I think that's what yellow jackets are?

Ronelle you get out much more than me and I've love the Coin Perdu stories too :>)

Julie I managed not to say anything unforgivable about her having my phone all along! I think I was just too tired!

Thanks Sarah - it isn't professional standard but I hope he'll like it - I'm enjoying your new illustration blog - dear reader please check it out - it's good.

Chris Bellinger said...

Like the sketches That woman with the children!!!(are people more rude now?)
Norfolk being very differeent fom Cornwall More Horizon line!!!

Cath Sheard said...

This one - being told by another passing walker that they run classes at the local community centre if we wanted to learn to paint .... - is just too too funny. Aren't people incredible!

vivien said...

Yes Chris - Norfolk is all vast spaces and huge skies and horizons. Very unlike Cornish coves and hidden lanes and steep little valleys.

The rude woman was a Londoner - the area is very trendy with Londoners who are buying up houses which they sometimes only visit once a year :>(

Cath - not a vote of confidence in our work that's for sure!

annie said...

Wonderful stories, Vivien. People's comments are so funny, but Bossy Britches supervising the children right OUT of living their lives is a sadbad influence.

I do like the paintings. There they shine despite wind and blowing sands, their jumping off car roofs (was that after the midges committed suicide jumping into their wet paint?).

I feel for Lisa,that brave lady.No way would I stay for fingenibbles. We have both Yellow Jackets and some aggressive bees that swarm in at odd times. One or the other(I did not stop to look) swarmed in and chased me and my sketches back to the house on Sunday.

caseytoussaint said...

Ah, but the result is worth it!

vivien said...

thank you Casey :>)

and Annie I so agree about Bossy Britches! and your insects sound downright scary 8>0 - we don't have much that is dangerous here

Kelly Marszycki said...

Ohhh. . . this was almost too painful but also too funny (you have a wry sense of humor) to read! Your heart must have stopped when those paintings slid off the roof of your car!!? Great entry -- it's nice once in awhile to read about other artists' intrepidness!

vivien said...

or ineptness Kelly!!!

annie said...

P.S. Yellow Jackets AREhornets--You are spot on, Vivien (I have been dying to get the chance to say that ever since I heard it on ANTIQUE ROADSHOWS).I had to look it up on Wickipedia) and I just took a sneaky peek at mine which are striped a little like YJs but are not, after all, though they act like them. So I hope you don't get these bad bees on top of the Yellow Jackets, Lisa.

vivien said...

I think I've only see a hornet a very few times and not close to me (thank heavens!) I would NOT like to meet a crowd of them

Cathy Gatland said...

So funny Vivien - a reminder that the pitfalls of plein air will make a good story some day, so hang on to your sense of humour, as you do so well!

Desiree said...

You make me laugh although I also feel the pain!