Wekiva Paint Out – Part Two
At the end of a week of plein air painting, the gallery was full of work completed in the field by dozens of artists. Friday night they offered live music and some moonlight plein air painting at Wekiva Island, so my husband and I decided to go down and check it out. After all, it must be interesting to watch people paint in the dark. I have painted until 3am, but always at my easel under my studio lights… in climate control.
Doug had rented a new lens he was coveting that was supposed to function well in low light situations,. He grabbed his camera in hopes of capturing some images of the painters at work. There’s nothing like being a blogger and an artist with a professional photographer at your side. Just saying.
Experimenting with Low Light
You can never tell just what you are going to get, as far as quality of photos, from the camera preview screen. Doug seemed happy with the quality of the lens, but he had to wait until the images were in his computer to truly tell. We both remember the days long before digital photography when film was the norm and you never knew WHAT you were going to get until you were in the darkroom. Doug and I both attended Syracuse University where he dual majored in advertising design and photography in the Newhouse School of Communications and I majored in advertising design in the School of Visual and Performing Arts. Doug took many many more photo classes than I did, but there was a small photography requirement for my degree as well. My small photo requirement became a BIG photo requirement when I printed and reprinted just about every image I ever shot, spending countless hours in the darkroom trying to overcome dust and scratches and CRAP on my negatives. I’m a general mess when it comes to that sort of thing, but I was determined to get a good grade. Digital is much better, having Doug take the photos is EVEN better yet. I mean really, I can compose an image but do NOT ask me to figure out the MATH of F-stops and aperture. OMG.
The Beauty of Darkness
Steve Andrews took the time to show me how he was keeping is painting loose. He talked about having started painting 30 years ago when his wife gave him a small watercolor box. He said that painting was incredibly relaxing for him because it was something that was very different from his day-to-day. Steve is actually an attorney with a small private practice in Tallahassee. He told me that he had his blue-tooth ear piece and took some cell phone calls while in the field painting this week. “I just said, ‘well I don’t have your file in front of me at the moment, I’ll have to get back to you on that.'” He told me with a smile. Every one of the artists were happy to take the time to tell you about their art and their inspiration and their week in Wekiva. If you paint in plein air, I guess you have to be good with people.
I asked Steve if it was difficult to paint in the dark and he said “no.” “You know why? because the light doesn’t change in the dark. During the day you are chasing the light and trying to get your painting right before the shadows change, at night it stays just the same.” That was something I hadn’t thought of. I think you would still have to get used to it, painting in the dark, painting outside, enduring temperature and weather extremes. Friday night it was cool, as you can see from the jackets on the painters and the fire in the background keeping people warm at the Island.
A Different Perspective
We met artist Shelby Keefe from Wisconsin who did not think it was very cold at all! She sat down with a red/orange toned canvas panel and started “drawing” with her long handled thin paintbrush loaded with a blackish/blue. Her subject was the food trucks that were lined up in the parking lot, I leaned over and said to her “what does a landscape painter do with all that perspective and straight lines?” “Oh, I LOVE it!” she replied, “That’s what I do.” And she handed me a card with a wonderful plein air painting of a fantastic old three story house with a store window at the bottom.
Shelby was super sweet and as we watched her sketch out that perspective and lay in the lights and darks like it was second nature. She really captured the glow of the light emanating from the food trucks, it was amazing to watch. Every mark she made was a keeper, she never went back in and reworked or overworked anything. That’s talent. As the night got late, the second food truck shut off its lights, packed up, and pulled away. “Oh noooo, smiled Shelby,” but she had enough information to complete her painting. She never missed a beat. She had started her painting only working by the light from the tent and the fire, when she attached her clip light to the top of her easel I was totally surprised that the top right was blue! It had looked black in the low light. “Wow! I exclaimed, that’s actually blue, I thought it was black.” “Oh no, said Shelby, I knew it was blue.” Too funny, I was RIGHT over her shoulder the whole time.
Living and Learning
All of the artists at the Wekiva Paint Out were happy to discuss their not only their painting, but their individual set ups for paints and canvas in the field, they were open and even entertaining at times. I saw an artist who set his palette up on a miniature ironing board and some glass shelves over the top of it. Charles Dickinson (above) said to me, “Now THAT guy has the most elaborate setup I have EVER seen.” about his neighbor in the parking lot. They were both painting the patrons at the bar.
I was glad we went down to Wekiva Island for the last night of the Paint Out even though it was chilly. We had a wonderful opportunity to see all the work in the gallery as well as meet and talk to several artists painting in the moonlight right by the bar area. Throughout the week these artists have hiked into the woods, floated in canoes, gone up to the camp grounds and setup their easels all over the Wekiva State Park, tonight was a great opportunity to see quite a few of them in one place. I truly enjoyed talking to the artists and learning about their craft.
And wow, aren’t these are some lovely photographs? Click on any image to enlarge.