Sunday, July 24, 2016

Long absence, acrylic and plein air

It's been a tremendously long time since I've posted anything. Unfortunately, I'm still not painting in a serious way, but I've tried to dabble in a couple of new things to try and restart my creative life.

Yesterday, I took a plein air class at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Va., taught by a local art teacher, Cindy Redmon.

I've not really done plein air before (I did a plein air demo of sorts years ago at the local craft co-op, where I mucked around tremendously), and certainly not painted in a group setting for a while.

The other spin on this class was that the medium was acrylic, which I have no experience with.

Add in the triple-digit heat index in the Shenandoah Valley, and it certainly looked like it would be a very long day.


However, it ended up being a very enjoyable experience. The gardens at MSV, which are part of the Glen Burnie estate, are magnificent. The class coordinator, Courtney, was great at taking care of our needs (and providing lots of water). And Cindy did a great job leading the class.

The sketch I've posted here is of the statue at the end of the Pleached Allée. I completely lost the light as I moved down the figure, so it doesn't make a lot of sense, but I did move quickly enough to get the light set on her face. I think that's the biggest challenge of plein air....the sun moves so quickly that the scene completely changes in no time.

The acrylic was really frustrating for me at the onset, and still was frustrating by the end of the day (the value shift as it dries is maddening), but it was oddly fun to make a different kind of mess. I'm not switching to acrylic, but I think I would like to play with an opaque medium a bit more.

If you are traveling through the Valley, take time to visit MSV and see the gardens. Learn more at