The thought of painting outside has not only resurfaced with the arrival of spring, it has taken my mind captive. As the sun shines, and the air is warming, the desire to pack up my vehicle, and set up my pastels just about anywhere, is a temptation not easy to ignore.
Today I found myself in the middle of a farmers field surrounded by a whole lot of nature. Red tailed hawks soaring overhead, honey bees buzzing by my feet, moose wandering around me. Okay... I didn't actually see a moose, the closest I got to one was ... well, let's just say there were many piles of droppings I had to walk carefully around to get to the top of the hill... but I 'sensed' their presence. It was me and nature, and I loved it.
It was pleasant for the most part. I could hear the singing of frogs in a near-by dugout. The occasional cow called out (nothing new). And a high pitched buzzing sound. At first I wondered if it was a neighbouring farmer using a power tool. Yah, I thought, that's possible. Until I spotted a small swarm of insects hovering near my easel. With a closer glance I realized they were most definitely mosquitoes, and upon hearing the familiar buzz, I was sure that they were discussing their method of attack. Either sending one in for the first bite, or deciding if they should all find exposed skin and bite simultaneously. Turns out, they went for the latter!
I continued to finish up my painting as best I could. The pastel was getting pretty thick on my fingers and hands as I worked. With each swatting motion, or scratch I made on a freshly bitten patch of skin, the pastel spread to my face, neck, arms, and feet. I quickly packed things up and added to my list of 'plein-air-must-haves' a can of insect repellent... and hurried off to the van.
I laugh now as I think of a blog post that I've read titled "Paint Fast - You're Being Chased" http://secretsofamodernpainter.blogspot.com/2010/12/paint-fast-youre-being-chased.html
Gabriel Boray shares great insight in the blog 'Secrets of a Modern Painter'. A good read. I recommend a visit, there is so much to learn! The blog post has nothing to do with hungry insects of course ... but that is all I could think of at the time! I was definitely being chased.
Have you had any interesting plein air experiences... any unexpected guests?
Oh, and here's the list of Plein Air Must Haves that I find helpful when I go out (with one recent addition).
*pastels, & pastel pencils, sponge & blending tools
*variety of papers pre-cut in smaller sizes
*small table to set pastels on
*ziplock bag with wet cloth for hand wiping
*water bottle for drinking and snacks of course
*camera (I use my iPhone) for taking a pic of the location for further reference if desired
*note pad for jotting down notes about the location, I also like to record the date and time
*and sometimes, I bring my husband along with the guitar... the perfect date!