Every year, the forest preserve district performs what they call “prescribed burns” at Hadley Valley Preserve. They even have a bright orange sign they put at the roadside that proclaims “Prescribed Burn in Progress” so as not to alarm motorists and others passing by. Of course, I was anxious to paint this change in the valley, so I went for a painting session last weekend.
As it was a beautiful day, many people were out on the trail: runners, joggers, bikers, walkers. There were no equestrians while I was there, but later that day I saw some out enjoying the weather. Plein air painting is different than studio painting in a lot of ways. One of those ways is that you are often among other people, and those people usually show an interest in the artist’s activity and progress. I welcome the interruptions. I enjoy talking with folks. I also find it gives me a forced “break” from the artistic flow. Rather than stunting my creative process, this actually allows me to be more productively critical of my work. To assess it more objectively as a viewer, not just as the creator. If I’m painting on a day when no one is around, I often get so immersed in a painting or particular part of a painting that I lose sight of the “big picture” – for me, this often results in a weaker composition.
I’m hoping to get out there again next week – everything is so suddenly GREEN!