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?"

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