Had the best time at the lake trying to hone my 'skills' at plein air painting. I realized with this attempt that relaxing is key. The clock needs to be kept in the peripheral vision while the focus remains on the subject, keeping time in the back of the mind and the fingers moving -- but not fretting the traveling sun and growing shadows so much that you miss the colors before you.
The best part about plein air is the studio -- or lack thereof. No walls or light bulbs, just open space with the sky for a ceiling and a grass carpet underneath, the sun as the light source and the birds as the background music. I was visited frequently by a big, bold yellow butterfly, a robin gathering sticks and stems for her nest, and the occasional bug, casual observers that didn't ask questions or offer critiques, just curious as to why I was there.
My husband, Ron, spent the afternoon with me. I was afraid he would get bored and I would have to rush -- but he was most content to fish from the banks even if nothing was biting, and dipped into the lake in our canoe once in a while, exercising his own skills for the first time this summer.
Yeah, days like this can't be planned. They are a gift enjoyed when you respond to their spontaneous calling. And I've learned through these little painting excursions that sometimes I just need to let the dishes set and go out and play.