Back in the late 1800s, the Impressionists were on to something. The Parisians became familiar with this odd, at times raucous, group of artists who became known as the Impressionists and famous for their "en plein air," (French for in open air) painting. It is not that "en plein air" had never been done before but painting became easier for artists in that time. Paint became available in tubes and portable easels were built. Artists could venture out. Painting "en plein air" gave way to capturing life as they saw it in the streets, ballet schools, restaurants and parks of Paris and a camaraderie was built among each other.
Yesterday, I was a little discouraged by the economy and slow sales. The thought of struggling through another larger painting to make sure it reached some level of perfection in my mind was just more than I could take for the day. I grabbed my painting gear armed with with paintbox, tripod and camera, and out the door I went. My neighborhood offers the best of Denver: quaint, lovely cafes and shops. I ended up at a coffee and wine bar (Highland Coffee and Cork at 32nd and Meade) that offers a great patio and porch. The weather was iffy so I chose the porch.
Some friends joined me fat te end of the day for a glass of wine on the patio while a small band started setting up their equipment for an evening of blue grass music. A crowd had gathered and that is when the clouds opened up. We all ran inside to the small house where the wine bar was located and crowded into a warm, festive, cozy house dripping with coffeehouse ambiance. The band started playing, and I grabbed my paints. The house became a retreat of savory music and jovial laughter as small children danced around their parents and parents tapped their feet in rhythm. The band played and I painted.
What discouragement I had was lifted by this diverse band of talented musicians called "Dr. Harlen's Amazing Blue Grass Tonic" http://www.reverbnation.com/drharlansamazingbluegrasstonic. In the end, they realized I was painting them and were thoroughly delighted.
A friend sent me an email that evening in an unrelated conversation and said, "your life is so rich and full." I felt conflicted as I read that email. because I did not feel that way but knew she was right.. Sometimes I think my art is for me and what I get out of it. Partly that is true but in fact its really for others. Maybe that is what drove the Impressionists out into the streets of Paris to paint life as they saw it. They figured out that half the fun was letting others experience that life through their impression of what they saw in those lively Parisian streets. Sure they were trying to learn things about color, values, edges, texture, and etc., but the pure enjoyment of painting from life and experiencing life as they painted it was the elixir that filled them up from their art. Their lives were rich and full.
In that little cafe last night, I was reminded of that. The Impressionists knew their share of discouragement as their art was not viewed favorably at times by the Parisian establishment, but the pure joy of painting and painting from life must have kept them going. The moments I experienced in that little cafe where life swirled around me and where I couldn't throw paint on the canvas fast enough was enough to send the blues away. That moment helped me remember that the life of an artist may not be an easy one, but it is rich and full. For that I am grateful to be reminded.
So here's the deal. I may not have much to say this summer other than this blog, but I am going to post my weekly events through acrylic studies. I am hoping you can experience what I did as I paint them. Besides, it will keep me accountable for plein air painting each week as I have made a promise to you for this summer:) Others feel free to share your paintings also!