Saturday, June 27, 2009

FINAL POST - 2009 Gettysburg Fringe Festival Plein Air Paint Out

Plein air painting on the Gettysburg Battlefield was an incredible experience I will not soon forget. Over the past nine days of painting and making new friendships with some very talented artists, learning more about the battle of Gettysburg from the tour guides, talking to interested observers, and fighting off bugs and heat, several thoughts came to mind.

First of all, many thanks to Mary Beth Brath and Peter Plant for organizing this entire event, and then for pulling it all together for a fantastic exhibit. It takes a lot of thought and effort to make this work successfully, and you both did an amazing job. (Pictures from the exhibit will be further down this entry).

I also want to thank everyone who has followed the progress of this plein air event on my blog, all the folks at Wet Canvas who have followed this event's daily progress and have provided so many kind words and encouragement, and also thanks go to the people who read this blog, and sent me amazing emails about their experiences on the Gettysburg Battlefield. You all have added to this experience in ways I will forever appreciate.

There are many different ways to learn how to paint, but it has always been my contention that the act of painting itself is the best teacher. Picking up that brush, dipping it into some paint, and attacking the canvas each day will teach you something new every time, and the more mistakes you make, the more you will learn along the way.

You can't be afraid when you're out there plein air painting - you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone. It is so easy to be complacent, to find the easy way and stick with it. For example, when painting the summer landscape, you will be surrounded by many, many different shades of green. It is easy to hold on to the notion we learned in grade school that 'green = yellow + blue'. As a painter, we need to stop, look and find the actual color that we need. Sometimes green has a lavender or blue cast, sometimes it is the deep olive green that you can get by mixing ivory black and cadmium yellow, and sometimes it really is just a yellow and blue mixed together. As an artist, what I marvel in is that sometimes when you really look, you will see that what you originally thought was green may not even be green at all!

As a plein air painter, sunscreen and bug spray are your FRIENDS! I also was very, very glad that I had the umbrella that attached to my Judson Guerrilla pochade paint box - especially the last few days of painting when it provided my only source of shade under a merciless, hot sun.

I've never minded when people come up to talk to me while I am painting. Even if they don't have an artistic bone in their body, they are always interested, and ask some really creative questions. This is the first time that I ever painted around such a large amount of people, and one of the things I noticed during this paint out was that little children outdid the adults in politeness a hundred to one when it came to blocking the artist's view. It always made me smile to see a little one scrunch down so they wouldn't be in the way - even though many times they weren't tall enough to even be in the line of vision - and I always made sure to say 'thank you!'

Being on this historical site made me think more than once of my high school history teacher, Mr. Willis Kocher. He expected a lot, and gave back even more by bringing history to life each day in his classes. Thanks, Mr. Kocher!

Kudos to the Gettysburg Battlefield tour guides. Each day I heard snippets from many different guides as they led tourists through the various battle sites. Talk about having a passion for your work - these folks are incredible.

I asked each artist to send me a picture of their favorite painting from this esperience, and here they are:

My Painting

Mary Beth Brath

Dianne Lorden

William Lukens

Lyn O'Neal

William Fosnaught

Susan Gray

Deborah Richardson

Sharon Benner

Becky Jackson

Peter Plant

Jackie Mickler

Glenn Souders

Dorothea Barrick

Amy Lindenberger

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