Friday, May 28, 2010

Not That Kind of Painters

By now, the weather has started to stabilize too hot, humid, and sunny. Tim and I had a cup of coffee when I picked him up. By the time we left for breakfast it was 10:00 A.M. After breakfast it was closer to 11:00 A.M. The day was running away from us. "Where to?" I said, " Rich Valley", a small berg with a large elevator.

It's all those angles and rectilinear elements we like. After we pulled up to the office to get permission to set up our painting equipment, I walked into the office. " Hi, we're painters. We'd like to paint the elevator. Before I could get any more words out of my mouth the manager of the elevator replied. "We don't need any paint on the elevators. They are fine just as they are. I don't need any painters." I laughed. "No, no we're not-that-kind of painters. We want to make paintings of the elevator. We're artists."
"Ohhhh, yeah go ahead its okay. Just wait 'til that truck gets filled and you can drive on back." We sat in the shade and waited for the grain truck to get filled. All that corn headed for an ethanol plant in Ohio. That's what the Mexico elevator manager had told us. We pulled behind to back of the elevators and parked along the RR tracks.

Tim set up near one set of tracks and I went around the small woods to get a better look down the tracks. We didn't really focus on the elevator at all. That's what happens. Each of us needs to find a viewpoint which makes us want to paint whatever we find interesting or worth capturing. A few minutes later we hear the signal bell ringing. Both of us were not more than ten feet from the rails.

A freight train roared past. Both of us jumped up and moved behind my small Scion. That little car wouldn't be any more protection from the inertia of those freight cars than a cotton bed sheet. Still it felt a little safer. When it had finally passed we returned to our seats. By now we had begun and had a good  start on our landscapes. The bell started ringing again. We looked up just in time for us to run for the woods nearby. It was a weed sprayer car on the tracks hitting a pretty good clip. The mist came out of the high pressure nozzles. I could see Tim close his eyes and hold his breath. Minutes later he opened his eyes and said, "I know what that stuff is like. It takes twenty years for the soil to grow grass again. We'll, probably, die." We didn't but he was brakeman and conductor for 2o yrs or more so I think he knew what he was talking about. We both returned to our work and tried to focus again. I was working wet on wet acrylic as I wanted to explore this method more. I think I need a drying retarder as the paint was setting up too fast. Perhaps a spray bottle would keep the surface wet just a little longer. Tim was now back in the saddle. I stopped a few minutes later and stood up "Done." I was losing the spontaneous feeling in the liquidity (juicyness) of the acrylic paint. The color lays down differently on a wetted surface. It's more like shoving the paint ahead of the bristles. It takes a while however to learn and use a painting technique.

Tim I know wasn't anywhere near finished. He replied. " Pretty soon all we'll be doing is going to breakfast." "Yeah, and then back home so neither of us miss our naps." I grabbed a spare canvas and started again. The temperature had reached 91 degrees and I fought the paint on the second painting as it started to turn into long stringy slubs as I moved it from the palette to the canvas. By this time Tim was spraying the fixative. "Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose." I don't think he was too happy about his pastel." "Cold beers", he said.  I showed him the two that I had completed and he held up his pastel. "I like that!" He laughed.
That's what friends are for. Actually, I did like his vantage point and most of the landscape features worked. He gets the roof angles off sometimes but he can straighten them out. " I need an easel . I'm too close to the paper to see how the perspective is looking." Well, I know what to get him for his birthday now.
And still it wasn't a bad of a day. Freight trains, sprayers, humidity and heat are all a part of the painting outdoors game. "Hey, Ed Monet, do you have any acrylic retarder?"

Monday, May 24, 2010

Up A Lazy Creek

Summertime and the living is not easy although its better than winter by a mile.It's my sinuses and the pollen today is at its highest this month somewhere around 210%. Drip, drip, drip and my nasal passages are like sandpaper. This is the start of today's outdoor painting trip. Breakfast, Thank God, is good. Picture perfect eggs, crisp hashbrowns and dry so so...not bad Tim's turn to pay. I have an idea today of where we can go to paint. Tim wants to paint a creek. A creek, a lazy slow run with rivulets (water running through small pebbled creek beds). Actually, this is exactly what I had discovered a few days ago when my wife offered to take me out for a Sundae. We stopped and parked on the outskirts of town near the Coon Hunters Lodge. I said let's just sit on the rocks and eat our ice cream. A creek was running from last week's thunderstorms. I had to explore it. I have loved creeks from kidhood. They are the last remaining remnant of the primeval we have left in our Cro-Magnon brain. Yes, there's campfires but creeks are natural. They just happen because the land is not flat in spite of the glaciers that plowed Indiana thousands of years ago. So I made a mental note of the creek for Tim to paint the next time we were out.
Creeks are littered with stones and other interesting items dugout of the ground by the torrents when the creeks flood. They are storehouses for treasure...not the pirate kind but the kind that I loved when I was seven. I had a box that I hid my "finds" in and guarded them under my bed. And there was hell to pay if someone got into it. I still get a kick out of scouring the creek beds for interesting stuff.
Tim probably likes them for the same reasons. He is drawn to them like I am or he wouldn't mention them so often. So today we are painting the creek. I find a place to set up my chairs on the blacktop just a few feet from the bank. Tim moves closer and down the bank for a creek-run vantage point. The temperature is climbing and the humidity is running to catch up. By the time we are well into our artworks my shirt is clinging and the paint is 'runny' and dries so very slowly. Tim is having a time only because I can hear his discomfort. I am finishing up quicker because I decide to use the 'wet on wet look' in this piece. A way of taking a snaphot of this steamy May weather is what I am trying to achieve. The brush just pushes the wet color around like the creek is doing to the land around it. We finish about the same time as I can smell his fixative.
Here's my finsihed piece while Tim's is above.
All in all its been a good morning session in spite of the humidity. And maybe it's been successful just because of it. There's two dark and cold beers waiting for us. A short critique is also hashed over the 'suds.' "Hey, I like your artwork." "I like yours, too. Maybe if you took your finger and smoothed out the highlights on the water it would appear to be more 'watery'." More watery? Maybe its too hot to be drinking beer outdoors today??

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Victory and Monarchs

Crazy title today, but it will get us there eventually. I am reading a good book right now by the title of ON NOT BEING ABLE TO PAINT by Joanna Field ISBN 0-87477-263-X. The reason I suggest this book is that it unapologizingly attacks the demons artists tackle every day. It might seem simplisitc but it is a method of getting past that "artist's-writer's block." While I'm on the subject I would also suggest Anne Truitt's Diary. You can 'google' the actual title if you are inerested. It is a 'pearl' kind of a book. You have to read it. Right now, I am NOT using this post to talk about her diary but I may later.What I want to do in this post is to say something about the artist's  whom I admire.
The list begins with Lyonel Feininger, Fairfield Porter, Anne Truitt, and Milton Avery. These artists are not what I would call mainstream nor superstars in the art world. They are well known, however. I appreciate their honsesty. An artist needs at some point in their career to admit some things. Namely, 1.They are rarely going to exceed their limitations, 2. Their syle is personal and unique and okay being that way. 3. Being famous as an artist is an illusion as it does little for the artist's actual growth and personal satisfaction.

These individuals seem to have recognized these ideas. 

The works displayed are I feel represenational of their styles. They are not represenationalists nor realists as are much of the pantheon of great artists. But that's okay. I think they are their own persons. One must remember that the mainstream artists or the Old Masters were paid to create religious or flattering works. They had to copy the natural world. Modernity allows for the freedom of the individual to be his own person. I like that idea. Afterall, when a life is completed what satisfaction can a person derive from following another's perceptions?
That's where the Victory comes in. A victory in accepting what one is. That's a lifelong struggle. The Monarch? A monarch makes one of the longest transcontinental flights of all species of animals. It weighs as much as a 'paperclip.' That's what I call overcoming ones limitations. But actually, it is not a part of their limitations because they know a secret. Now I'm trying to learn that secret as an artist. I am not a monarch but I can learn to ride the air currents in life and cover a lot more ground. So Milton, Lyonel, Anne and Fairfield here's my journey's snapshot;

Pueblo Bonita and Back Alley

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thirty Minutes ... now Paint!

Hello, artists and passerbys. It's not going to rain. Great, Tim is on his way. I think it's my turn to drive and buy breakfast. This whole thing is really great for the mind, body, and soul. Last night we were called upon to speak and give a little expose' on our plein air painting trips. We've been at it almost a year. It's kind of like an anniversary. Actually, it was Tim and Carolyn's anniversary too. My beautiful wife also attended with us at Cafe Cirque for the monthly art group meeting. I don't know if they have a name but they are good people and are interested in art and creating. That's good. And here they are. I took the photo with my Ipod. Nice little gadget phone.
We decided that we'd both talk at the meeting. Someone said we were like Rowan and Martin of Laugh- In. Ahh the publicity and accolades. Today we are out and hunting for subject matter and something to inspire us. We stopped at this location because the owner has about 50 old Airstreams parked in a small newly planted "Airstream Park." The sign said beware of the dogs. We got out and walked around calling. "Anybody homeeee? Hello, anybody here?" Two black labs came wheeling around the building and these two soft baby's WEREN'T guard dogs. They had a "c'mon rub me" written all over their faces and fluffy collars on. They were even a little embarrassed because they knew they weren't in it for anything but the grub. I almost petted one out of sympathy for these two guys. "Hey, we aren't really guard dogs mister, but could you spare a dime? or a doggie treat, c'mon?"
I figured I'd email the guy at as it was on the Office window. The place used to be the Old Poor Farm, literally. People who couldn't make ends meet and needed a home came here and with their kids too. I guess that was the way they did things in those days. We looked after each other. It was a kinder world in those days in some ways and meaner in other ways, racially. Damn shame people can't stand each other for the damnest reasons.When We hit the 30 minute mark and we hadn't found a spot yet. Tim's telling me we have to stop and paint. We were around the top south ridge othe the Wabash River Valley overlooking Peru. Iv'e painted from here years ago, but what the hell. When I turn around there was a big utility pole truck blocking the road so I parked right where we stood. And this is what we decided to paint. These were two old stuccoed homes dated, I figure, somewhere in the 30's. The design was interesting and they had character...good subject material. I was using the new technique of wet acrylic paint on wet acrylic paint. I've had some success with this so I am staying with it for awhile. Nothing more said we sat down on the curb and got to work. Just about an hour later after only a few random comments here and there, Tim was spraying his pastel with fixative. The stuff smells like White Rain or old copy machine fluid for a radidograph??? I think? Here's Tim's pastel.Sorry Tim I guess I moved when I was taking the picture. The slant is the shutter closing while I moved the Ipod thinking it was's mine.Well we finished with a short critique in my garage and Tim and I are ready for our next plein air painting trip.Hey Tim, how's the beer? Now if that isn't a happy man, I'll give you my stack of paint brushes.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pushing the Clouds Away with my Mind

Today the rain continued as yesterday. Rain, a lead gray sky, and 50 degrees fahrenheit. Not a good chance for  a plein air day. Tim was occupied today with his mother's medical emergency of a few days ago. It's time. I have to keep the juices flowing. Several freshly stretched and primed canvases were laying on my workbench. I grabbed one and brought my paints up from my old studio in the basement...I just can't paint there anymore...I need the light.
I had taken several picture images with my Iphone a handy little device to own. The images were landscapes that had prompted my interest both compositionally and as color combinations that I have been working on. I have always liked landscape much in the same way Edward Hopper did. My graduate watercolor show was so much like a series of Hopper's watercolors. I recall the light contrasts of high noon shadows in deep blues and violets. I guess, I have always been a colorist like the Fauves, Impressionists, and the  Der Blaue Reiter group.
This particular landscape had very little color but their was a variety of multi-colored grays and that deep scarlet door panel with its reflections on the wet pavement. Today was overcast like the day I took the photograph. I had to eliminate most of the details.
By the time I laid a coat of wet pewter gray and white, I had slipped into that marvelous space between thought and the creative process. The hand and eye takes over and an hour and half dissolve.

 Whatever I do to make it happen is outside of my control as long as I just mix colors and apply the paint as my hand and eye direct.
I think this old building or shed reminds me of an old house trailer sometiemout of my past. There is a melancholy about the building like a throw away. It's not used anymore except to hold junk that also is not going to be used, more than likely, by the owner who just can't discard either.

This one came from the next day as I was late in posting these. Tomorrow Tim and I are scheduled to paint outdoors, sunny with a high of the 80's. Tonite we are scheduled to give a talk about plein air painting to a local art group at the Cafe du Cirque a small resturant in town. Who'da thought? Just started to paint together 'plein air' a year ago and now we're famous!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rain, Rain,Rain & no plein air

Today the map displayed a storm in Illinois running all the way into Indiana. I looked outdoors as the phone rang. It was Tim. "Hullo, it's raining here. How about there? What do you think paint today or go back to bed?" I replied without needing to think on the matter. "No, I guess we'll shoot for Wednesady, huh?" "Sure."  With that I layed the phone down.
When we were at the grain elevator last week, I shot a few images of the office which caught my attention because of the whiteness of the building in the sunlight and the blue sky outlining the triangular shape as an abstraction. I remembered it and figured today would work since we weren't goingto apint today. I was getting into the habit and a habit is hard to quit.
I grabbed a canvas I stretched last week and brought up several jars of acrylic paint setting up in the kitchen.The image was on my laptop sitting on the table across from the counter. I began and the moment was changed into the painting process which keeps most artists going when they are at the bottom of their creative roller coaster. Dark strong blues and whites poured out on the glass palette and deep crimson. Beginning with a line sketch in the wet underpainting of gray and white quickly laid down. I started to lay in color keeping the paint wet by adding a wet brush to the canvas intermittently. Color after color layer built while a part of me painted. The part that I meet only when I make my art. We, rarely, talk to each other to avoid disturbing the 'other'. My eyes and hand know what to do. Just leave them alone is all I can think. Before I know it, the canvas has an image on it that wasn't there an hour ago. I am finished but for the signature. The difference, an older artist told me, between a painting that is discarded and kept is a signature. C.SPEAR 2010 is added and I set the painting in another room. I didn't look at it 'til later. Who does these artworks I wondered. Such is the nature of the creative process.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tornado Watch and Something Weird in the Air

Today was going to be a weird kind of day. The weatherman had predicted rain,thunderstorms and tornados. It didn't look too threatening to me so I waited for Tim to arrive. It was his turn to drive and buy breakfast today. We were checking out a new breakfast watering hole called Country Cooking by none other than Granma Masons. We never actually saw Nanny  (Gra nny)and the food was so so.
Tim has a difficult time deciding just where we will paint as he really doesn't like decisions. Who does? So we drive and drive and end up in Wabash County. My GPS Iphone tells me we are going to pass Friends Cemetery. That's good. Why get buried with enemies around? We end up in Wabash again not finding any good place to settle down and set up our plein air painting "camp." We drive up hill to the courthouse and Tim says how about here? Old Lincoln is sitting on a chair in front of the courthouse just down the hill from us.The poor guy looks tired. I think that maybe this sculpture really captured this man. Civil war, slavery, abolition, secessionists, South against the North... who wouldn't get tired of that? He just sits there head bent forward and body in a slight tilt. "Should I go to bed and see what it's like in the morning?", could be the title. Lincoln's statue is in the picture at the far left center.
I decide to paint up the street and Tim is doing a pastel of the Courthouse. The sky starts to look threatening and rain is imminent.

I lay down an underpainting of gray and white and mix it on the paper surface to gesso or prime the paper. It's going to rain so  I decide to head right into the painting with the gesso still very wet. I had to lay the color in full strength as it mixed with the gray and white. Tim also said that he was trying something different with the rain not too far away. We dug in and worked feverishly for an hour. The wind had picked up and even Lincoln had grabbed hold onto the chair. My board started to shake and made it difficult to lay the color down.
Tim's phone beeped or twittered or some cell phone musical. It was his wife, 'Carolyn the Boulder Collector.' She couldn't get his mom to answer the door. She's 88 and the daughter of Art Johns a local deceased artist, signpainter and circus wagon painter. Tim's grandpa. Betty is an
artist also, Tim's mom.We packup and head home.

When we get to his mom's home we find Betty on the floor. Tim calls 911 and before we know it she is off to Marion to an orthopedic specialist with a broken hip from falling earlier that night. By the way, it never rained and the weather actually turned out quite nice. The tornado watches were also cancelled, mysteriously. I know it doesn't seem too odd but I tell you there was something weird in the air. Our pictures both took on that quality even though you might not believe me.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Painting in the Middle of Town and Selling Trailers to Boot

It's cool out today and were both hungry. Tim and I, me driving, head for the End of the Tracks. The breakfast there today was splendid, sumpteous and downright heart stopping. "Past the butter please, Tim." Today, I decided as we've been talking about it for awhile to paint some of the local downtown scenery of the Amateur Circus Capital of the World, Peru. Which by the way has the most antique and second hand stores per capita beating only Bolivia Peru. They are 1.5 per 200 people and we are 2 per 200 people. Like I said its cool out this morning. Sort of going backwards like we were heading into March again. Canadian geese have all made nests and laid their eggs so we can't turn back. It must be global cooling based upon the wind coming from the mouths of all the people saying GAH!!! who are Global warming yay-sayers. We, no I decided, we'd set up down by the 'bars end' of town. "Outrageous Joe's" is having a pool tournament, $5 dollars entry fee.  More local color down here at this end. We are parked in Club 14's parking lot another local watering hole. We are surrounded by enclosed trailers the big black rouded bullet kind people haul horses or meth labs in.

Just for the record Club 14 is famous for one of its regulars who tells everyone about his favorite meal. "Y'a see you need a good pack of weiners. Put these in a pan and fry them like you would baloney. When the get real smoky and cripsy and black take 'em out and put in a little milk and flour and stir like hell. "Ahhh, weiner gravy." What does one do with weiner gravy? "Ya chop up them weiners and put 'em over toast and smother all this with the 'oinkish' pink brown weiner gravy. Pu'e heaven!"  Not a dry eye in the place. Everyone is crying so hard from the laughter the have held back for the last five minutes.Mike and him almost get into a fist fight. Mike goads him with,"Jake that's the stupidest thing I have ever heard in my life. Weiners are just piggy buttholes and snouts." Jake's swinging but he's had one too many this morning since he started when they opened.

When we set up two fellas come over to me and Tim and ask. "Are these 14 footers?" How in the hell do I know? I'm a plein air painter. Tim thought we ought to go ahead and sell them but tell them to pick them up a few minutes after we have left. "Yeah, they are for sale and yeah, they are 14 footers. And today only, we'll take $400 bucks for each and $1200 for all three." I think maybe they thought something was supsicious because I started to roll my eyes like these guys were downsized from the marble factory in Northeastern Tenn. at Agateville.

The location has a few old bars across the street and a real estate agency run by a local wheeler dealer. Every town has 'em. They drive around in huge Suburbans or Hummers. I decide to paint the three building across the street but zoom in a litlle while Tim on the other hand goes for the big picture of the south end of town inlcuding parked cars. What a glutton for punishment. He and I are both complaining as this is a tough one because there is nothing really to focus on. The buildings are run down and girlie trucks keep parking in front of the empty storefronts.

A girlie truck is a big ass Dodge Ram 4000 Hp. with a polyethyelne bed-liner and a tail gate that is curved in to assure no damn sheet of plywood will ever scar up the bed liner. Thye also have a hell of a lot of chrome and geegaws on the hood of the truck. "Aw gee guys, why don't you just buy a big Lincoln with steer horns on the front?"

Tim is busy tapping away at his board so I figure he's getting somewhere. I can't seem to get a handle on this because today this corner is the loudest I've ever heard it with Big ass Dodge Rams gunning their 4000 Hp. engines going aorund the corner looking at these "honey trailers." We haven't had any other takers on the enclosed trailers but we still have about a half hour left. Finally, I start to get a hold on the feelling of the sunlight on the buildings and start focusing on that with the hard shadows falling on the crumbling concrete sidewalks. I didn't gesso the paper today so I'm getting more of a 'watercolor' look to the painting.

Tim gets up with a grunt or two later. "I'm done." "Okay,I'm just about there,too,I reply." The heater in the car will feel good. My fingers are like cold sausages. We pack up the car and get in. Just then a guy is looking over the trailers."Hey let me do the talking this time," I say. Tim starts laughing because we know they aren't going t' buy a trailer. They just need something to pull around behind their Big Ass Dodge Rams, probably a set of tennis balls in a pantyhose swinging from the trailer ball hitch.

We'll see you next time and this time bring some gloves. Might just have enough time to grab a cone at the Corner Curl this morning.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The ' End of the Tracks '

I call. "Where are you? It's nine."
I open the garage and Tim is backing in to load up my painting equipment.

He's getting to be a regular "Johnny on the Spot." Not his past record but we're retired now, so who cares? We head for the watering hole for breakfast. It's in the air, like Monday, change!  I'm sure of it . "Let's try somewhere else today, Tim asks."  "Sure." We pass by the End of the Tracks a local diner which is no longer at the end of the tracks because it has moved to the edge of town. The original End of the Tracks was literally at the end of the tracks for the N&W R.R. It was also called the "Dorm" because layovers, guys who couldn't work anymore until they had slept 8hrs stayed overnight. So the new place was affectionately called the End of the Tracks and they still serve meals. It has a place for railroaders to "layover" although it doesn't seem like there are too many of them these days, railroaders.
Breakfast is good but more expensive by a few bucks but there's no smoke. So this might be a regular here on in. The place is clean and white like a Steak and Shake but even whiter and cleaner. The food is plentiful and shiny. Shiny means the bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and onions are liberally oiled.
After breakfast we head out of town west. Tim wants to know where, I want to go. "Hey, your driving it's your call." So we meander here and there and snake our way back to US31. However, just before we get onto the maindrag we spot a farm with pines planted as wind breaks in the 40's. "That'll do."
Tim sits down about five feet away from me and briskly gets to work taping paper down and sketching his composition. "Orange, I'll use orange paper because of all the green.",Tim comments.
I have to squeeze out a palette of paint in the oversize snap lid tupperware. I also have to gesso the cotton paper  I am working on, a good quality Canson printmaking paper,140lb.

 This the place we are working from today. I shot this when we were done. This was a hard subject I guess from the stand point is that it is standard type of scenery. It is difficult to put a different twist on it so that it's not just another "barn painting." Our conversation runs into what makes great artists leave the conventional. What is it that gives them the spark to try a different approach. What is that magic something? Monet's father was in the grocery business and wanted him to take over. Monet drew all the time and had plenty of sketch books denoting his rather keen ability of observation. Mostly landscapes filled his books. His mentor another painter suggested he stick with landscapes because he had an affinity for them. Monet accepted his advice and focused on landscapes. He was also a follower of Jongkind another artist. Jongkind was using bright color, light and spotty colored landscapes more towards pointilism. Monet picked up on that idea and used his brush dabbing color as if he were pushing colored lights into his canvas. His virtuosity in this techniques and his ability to derive the lighting essence of the scene put his name on the map of Whose Who in the Arts.
 So we are back to the question, "What is it that makes an artist step out of the mainstream and try "______ ____ , new?" What is the catalyst? Tim is finishing up as I feel I could work another hour. But I am just fussing, a mortal sin for artists to fuss over their work. I'm done.
Friday we'll try again. I'm going to look at Monet's work between then and now. Maybe I will be able to put a name to the magic substance he possessed. Talent? No.  Luck? No. Duh, he was Monet! We're not. Yet.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Change in the Plein-Air

Something was different today; Tim was ready to go. He was waiting outside the gate as I pulled up. That was the beginning of the 'unusual' that began to unravel for the rest of the morning. I was driving today and the threat of rain was looming overhead as we pulled into our favorite restaurant. The place was nearly empty except for a few old guys 'smoking it up' on the other side of the divider. Like a divider was going to keep the rancid owl shit smell of cigarettes on that side. We sat as far from the smokin’ side as we could place ourselves. Our waitress was a new gal. She seemed to still have that “Good morning you are the most important people in my life right now.” That’s kind of nice for a change. And there it was, the second unusual occurrence that this morning was cooking up for us. It was a ‘ham’ morning on the menu board. Tim opted for the Western omelet: two eggs, chopped ham, hashbrowns, cheese and peppers. I  stuck with my usual: two eggs suuny side over, hashbrowns,unchopped ham, no cheese and no peppers.

We expected it to rain any minute. Our breakfasts came in record time and were picture perfect. Our new waitress flitted around the table making us feel really special. That was going to be a dollar tip more. I asked her to crisp everything. I didn’t mean the eggs-over-easy crisped. We ate and talked. A fellow and his wife were sitting across from us in the no smoking section. Tim said that he had forgotten all of the names of things. I think he meant that to be a heads-up for where we were heading in the not too distant future. He told me that his neighbor was a victim of Alzheimer’s. You slowly forget everything. Sounded familiar. He said that his neighbor didn’t know Tim’s name anymore. But if Tim told him he lived in the house down the road with four different colored sides on the house (orange, mustard yellow, reddish brown,and olivegreen). He’d say,” Yeah I know you.”

I paid the bill tipping a little extra this time. As we were leaving the parking lot, Tim says, “Where're we painting today?” I didn’t have the slightest idea but I knew I didn’t want to keep painting with the three primary colors anymore. I was changing brushes as well. I figured we’d drive around for a while waiting for today's subject to reveal itself.
And there it was, a burned out house.We painted the same house last year before it had burned. Still we thought it would be an interesting return to a previous subject. It was Joe K's house. Someone had probably set it on fire. What a shame. It was a good subject last year. We walked around looking for an interesting angle. Tim set up in the driveway.
I walked back down the drive to where I had painted the scene last year. By now the weather had completely changed. The threat of rain was gone. The sun was out and the temperature had warmed up. Maybe this wasn't unusual since we live in Indiana but the change was rather sudden. I pulled out a new brush. I was changing brushes and color palette. Tim said he was trying something new as well. The strokes of his pastel were now sidestrokes of the pastel square not on edge or tip but on the pastel face. He also had laid in an underpainting and smudged the drawing. He sprayed it with a fixative and worked again on top of this softened 'ground.' I, on the otherhand, was reawakening my old watercolor techniques with the spring of these new brushes. These were  a white Tacklon synthetic sable brush. Years ago, I worked with a similar brush type in watercolor,  a 1/2" flat sable brush.
My completed watercolor
Tim's finished pastel.
After we packed up, I thought it was an unusual morning session but a successful one for all the changes that had come about. That's the great thing about plein air. You take whatever is. Today was a royal flush and a 'ham' day.