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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A few words from our friend Brenda Behr...

Hey Bernie, great job on your blog. Thought I'd share with you what was going on at the “poppy field”.-Brenda

"Headed for the Crystal Coast"11x14" oil

Just got back from another two days of painting on the coast. Although it was under clouds, I have had time to photograph the paintings I did. But rats! Now, when I want so much to write this newsletter, it looks like the sky is going to open up, and Murphy is telling me that when it does, I'd better boot down.

I've developed such a case of computer-dependency. When I'm not painting en plein air, I'm painting à l'ordinateur (at the computer). And that's of course where I write as well. So it's almost like I'll be forced into domestic chores if lightning strikes. Horrors!

Last week an invitation from a friend led me to a couple of locations on the coast that are a little off my beaten path. One of them - "the poppy fields" near Emerald Isle - I've painted before. The other, Moe's Bug Shop, is a place that every time I've passed it, I've said, I've got to come back and paint this place. Please see the two paintings that I did at Moe's on my Hot Off the Easel blog - just a click away. Both paintings I'm pleased with, and I'm glad I did two different ones as they will show better this way should they find their way to a gallery.

The idea to paint the poppy field was for a couple of plein air painting groups to converge on the same location. This is what is popularly known as a "paint-out".

A little background . . . In 2003, I was invited to teach at the Arts Council of Wayne County. One of the things I put on my supply list for my students, was a stool for painting outside (en plein air). I still remember the grimace I saw on my students' faces. Because I had painted en plein air since 1981, and had belonged to a group in Minnesota who each spring through fall, scheduled regular paint-outs, I just kind of assumed it was something with which every landscape painter is familiar. Just before my first scheduled solo show at the Arts Council in 2004, the Goldsboro News Argus published a big spread about my work. The title of the article was, "She's Out and About".

The next year [2005] I put feelers out to all the artists I knew at that time who might be interested in putting together a plein air group and scheduling regular paint-outs. Only one artist responded positively. She is now a member of Greenville Brushstrokes, a group in Greenville, NC, who meet, probably nine months of the year to paint in the Greenville area. Other plein air groups have cropped up as well. I understand there's a group out of Oriental, NC, there's an OOPS group (Onslow Outdoor Painting Society), there's Outdoor Painter out of Alamance County in the Piedmont. Also in the Piedmont area is a group that call themselves Paint NC. Holy Cow! What's happened?

I'm hearing thunder!

Okay, thunder is a good point. Plein air painting, to a degree, is weather-dependent. My [low] cut off temperature to paint outside is 50º. In North Carolina, because of the dampness, 50º is about the equivalent bone chill factor as 30º in Minnesota. A friend of mine in the North Country, in fact, was pictured on a front page of the Saint Paul Pioneer Press painting en plein air in the snow. This is not a joke. He's a committed artist that has come to know that Mother Nature is the best teacher of color and atmosphere.

I'll save the pros and cons of plein air painting for a future newsletter. I realize not all of you are artists, and may find the process of painting a topic that is of little interest.

Rumor had it that the "poppy field" was all weeds this year. That may be true, but only if you refer to larkspur as weeds. What we found instead was a beautiful field of larkspur, with only occasional poppies. My buddy and I showed up at the field both Friday and Saturday. No one else showed up either day. The paintings I'm sharing are the result of two pretty much no-show paint-outs.

"Painting Buddy in a Larkspur Field"14x11" oil

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