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Christine Beirne: Plein Air Painting is Not for the Fainthearted!

I recently went on a painting trip to the high Sierra's. I planned to paint plein air as well as explore other techniques in my motorhome. Before I left, some well-meaning friends said things like: have fun! Enjoy! How I envy you! And yes, plein air painting is fun... but it's also work and it is definitely not a Disney film. LOL For example: my 1st day. Found a great area by the North Yuba River. The only problem was it was very rocky and difficult to find a spot where I could be very stable. I also didn't want to be in the way of people that wanted to come down and swim. Another issue with plein air painting - is you want to face the direction for that will get you a nice contrast. So... I was all set up and had my basic shapes laid out and colors. The wind was building up slightly and I turned around to use my backpack as

an anchor and my set-up blew over. Do you see my shoes and socks? Well... A couple of things went in the river and I slipped and fell right on my tailbone and soaked my shoes and socks. So, like a good plein air painter, I painted the rest of the morning barefoot on this nice rock. Where's the finished painting you ask? Well... the light changed dramatically (another challenge for painting plein air!)  before I finished and I moved locations the next day - so will end up being a studio painting. I won't even go into crashing and burning on my bike... I told my husband when I got back home that I looked as if I had been beaten up! So, the next time you see an artist plein-air painting - realize they are fighting the elements, the bugs, the heat, the cold, the wind... all to create a painting!

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