Painting Vacation

Since I began working in plein air several years ago, most locations I have painted have been near enough that I only had to pack my gear in the GMC and drive to my destination. Even when I head for northeast Mississippi from Louisiana, it’s not a big deal, as long as I remember to bring something to protect my wet paintings from ruining the interior of the vehicle.  So when one of our Paintin’ Posse (we finally have a name) suggested a painting trip to Lake Gaston on the North Carolina/Virginia border, I only hesitated a few minutes before committing to flying there on Memorial Day weekend.

Packing for travel is one thing, but packing for both painting and vacation is something else. I researched online, asked my  art colleagues how they managed, and tried to minimize what I put in my two suitcases. I have several easels for outdoor painting. I tried each and finally decided on the Soltek. The tubes of oil were carefully placed in the paint boxes I saved (I’m a box hoarder) and the number of brushes limited. The Best Brella took some room, but I knew I would need it at some point. Since we were going to a lake house I took a very limited wardrobe that included the hat I always wear when painting outdoors. It all fit and came in under the weight limit. Just learning to pack to paint was huge.

The house at Lake Gaston (AKA Artists' Retreat)
The house at Lake Gaston (AKA Artists’ Retreat)

The house was situated on an inlet of the lake. The weather was perfect every day except the day we left. We were able to paint several different areas and even took a trip to a winery. Our host family provided us with refrigerators full of food and beverages, prepared several meals for us, and

Sunset at Lake Gaston
Sunset at Lake Gaston

took us on boat tours around the lake.

I quickly acclimated myself to the artists’ retreat concept. I began five paintings, scrubbed one away, and pushed myself to paint more quickly in order to keep the light.

Now that I have learned to pack and paint, I think I am ready to head for new places, like Tuscany and Provence. After I finish the five paintings (and quite a few others) I have in my “to be completed” stack.

First painting (and the only one I finished).
First painting (and the only one I finished).

Painting the Bridge

 

Tombigbee River Bridge, Highway 82, Columbus, MS
Tombigbee River Bridge, Highway 82, Columbus, MS

When I was very young, crossing the Tombigbee River Bridge in our ’55 Bel Air meant we were going on an adventure out of town. When I was older, crossing the bridge meant we were going to the Southernaire or The Club. (I never went to Bob’s. Really.) The bridge seemed so long and big, maybe just a little scary too.

I am so impressed with the Riverwalk. It is well maintained, safe, and has some beautiful vistas. The citizens of Columbus have good reason to be proud of it. When I visit my family, I often bring my easel along and begin paintings of local scenery. The bridge of my youth was covered in rust, but even so, it was majestic and would make a fabulous landscape. I worked on the bridge a couple of hours to get a good underpainting and completed it when I got home.

One of the reasons I paint is to capture the subject. Photos are fine, but there is nothing to compare to the work created by the artist’s hand and heart. Plein air painting is not for everyone. I started painting on location about twenty years ago.  The results are not always good, but I enjoy it and love being outdoors. And, unlike some golfers, I have something to show after my morning outside.