If an artist is near a lighthouse, she must paint it. We were on St. George Island after a few days of rain. The sky was clear and the air cool. Since I never have painted a lighthouse, it was time. The dunes lead to the structure, which stands magnificently against the deep blue sky. The deep shadow on the left of the lighthouse adds drama to the painting. I tried to get a sense of the loneliness associated with lighthouses posted at the far end of a strip of land, but this particular place was anything but lonely…many vacationers were on the site, as well as a number of painters participating in Plein Air South.
Visiting downtown Apalachicola, Florida is almost like taking a trip back in time. The buildings along the waterfront have such personality, even though they may be vacant. The huge palm tree in front of this building is what initially caught my attention, but the painting became more about the structure as I worked on it.
It’s October, the one month of the year when wearing orange with black is acceptable. The sky is usually a brilliant cobalt blue and the cadmium yellow flowers in the pastures and along the highway are in bloom (as those with allergies know only too well!). This month is one of change, from warm summer days to cooler mornings and a little breeze. It’s also one of the best months for painting outdoors.
Autumn is the best time of the year to visit the Gulf coast…the tourists are gone, it’s not so hot, and the beaches are just beautiful. I had the opportunity to attend Plein Air South in Apalachicola, Florida earlier this month. It was the first event held in that area in months, and even though it was smaller than the previous PAS events, it was great. There were new faculty members and events, new participants and locations to paint, not to mention more painting time. Everyone was just glad to be out painting, even if we were socially distancing and wearing masks.
One thing I have to say about painting outdoors: it’s always there. No matter the situation, no matter one’s ability, plein air painting is always open. I am not sure what I would have done had I not been able to paint outdoors during the stay-at-home orders earlier this year. I could have learned a new language, organized my closet, or binge-watched Netflix. Instead, I showed up at the canvas, painted my yard, and tried doing still life compositions outdoors. I looked forward to painting on the beach at Apalachicola and felt prepared because I kept up with my practice. Some of my paintings are actually keepers!
But back to October. This crazy year, the leaves are actually turning yellow in October rather than late November and December as they usually do here in South Louisiana. I am excited about painting autumn colors and hope to see orange foliage in the Corbet green trees behind all those cadmium yellow flowers in the pasture under the cobalt blue sky. And of course, I will be wearing orange and black while I paint. Because it’s October.
My friend, Marylyn, and I are working through Larry Moore’s Fishing for Elephants Insights and Exercises to Inspire Authentic Creativity. We heard him speak and demonstrate at Plein Air South in May, 2019 and thought if we read and discussed it together, we would get more from it. I have begun quite a few self-help books without completing them (sound familiar?), so this would hold me accountable. At least it would provide opportunities to have lunch once a week and talk about it.
So after painting and having our chicken salad (the quintessential Southern Ladies’ lunch ), we were discussing Chapter Five, Resistance, when we both mentioned how “Do It Now!” truly resonated with us. Both Marylyn and I spent years not making art because Life was happening (raising a family, working a job); we both realized making art was our priority and we need to Do It Now or it may not get done.
I recently wrote about using your good things because life is short. Time is short and there is none to be wasted. Whatever your passion, don’t wait. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. DIN!