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.

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