Sunday, July 8, 2012

Paint It! Ellicott City, Maryland

July 5 - 9, 2012

The weather:  HOT

Ellicott City:  an APPROPRIATELY historic and desirable location

Juried Artists:  30

The temperature hovered around (and above) 100 degrees during the 2012 plein aire paint out in Ellicott City.

Working with the weather is always one of the primary factors in successful plein aire painting.  I viewed the weather forecast several times leading up to my date of departure.  The Washington D.C. area was stuck in an unusual heat wave of stifling temperatures and unhealthy air, and some households were still without electricity after an unusually violent derecho a week earlier. 

I decided that I'd work very early each morning and stay indoors during the hot afternoons for siesta, returning in the early evenings to work again.  This schedule worked well for me.  I woke up the first morning at 5 am, and light was breaking, so I ate breakfast, put on my sunblock and hat, and left for work.  This first painting of Ellicott City, MD was started at 6 am and completed by 10:30.  I sat right on Main Street and saw many of the artists as they arrived in town to paint.

I saw more unjuried artists during this event.  I guess the juried artists were staying out of the sun and in the shady nooks - which is a sign of experience.  Many of the unjuried artists had a habit of talking .... and talking......and talking.  I don't mind chatting, but it becomes difficult to concentrate and complete work when folks want to continue their conversations while perspiration is pouring down your back, your brain is heating up, and you'd rather nap than paint because of the extreme temperatures. 

Plein aire politeness rules  dictate that one can greet the artist, and make a comment or two - after that , though, remember...this artist is trying to complete a fine painting and is COMPETING for prizes.  Visitors, please respect the artist's space and concentration, and remember - this is their vocation, not their hobby.....thank you!

If you saw a surgeon working away on an appendix, how much chatting would you commit to...really???  The concentration required, and the final goals are fairly similar.  The artist is focusing on a complex set of circumstances and wants to leave with some well... constructed... handiwork.  Please keep this in mind.  I was particularly surprised at the lack of respect the unjuried artists demonstrated in the field.......experienced plein aire artists know not to linger and distract the working artist.

Heat always seems to bring out loquaciousness.  I can remember painting en plein aire is Rousillion, France, when it was 102 degrees and fellow tourists saw me painting, and  wanted to know where I was from....when they discovered I was an American, they insisted on beginning long discussions about George Bush, and how they hated him.......politics and heat...that was one difficult day.

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