Thursday, September 1, 2011

Plein air, resurrected

River  Boulder and Willow Stand
12x12 inches - pastel on Strathmore
© 2011, S Johnson
Sometimes things happen when you aren't really expecting them.  Like the completion of this painting.  I mentioned in a recent post about one of the plein air trips I did about 2 weeks ago where a sudden wind/water vortex developed just yards from where I was standing along the river, unnerving me, and the uncompleted painting that I'd planned to toss.  This is that painting.

It has been sitting, along with a few others, off to the side on my studio table, waiting...for what?  Who knows - I seldom toss paintings away immediately unless they are just downright atrocious.  Anyway, for whatever reason, when I walked by the table today, I had this urge to work on it.  Nothing left to lose, I suppose, and no expectations.  It was about 75% completed when I abandoned it, so there wasn't much to do.  There were already pastels laying about as well, so I didn't even need to pull out my plein air box to finish it.

I didn't even sit, put on my painting apron, or do anything that would indicate a dedicated studio session.  Just from memory, which actually was better than I might have thought.  

It's not going to go down as a personal favorite, but when I look at it, I'm reminded of what attracted me to the scene originally.  And, by golly, I actually finished it!  And, it felt really good to do so.  It could probably stand some vigorous cropping, and I see a few areas that could be tweaked a bit, but no big deal.

So, I guess maybe the take-home message (if you can call it that) is for those of you who have unfinished paintings, or any abandoned projects lingering around, perhaps destined for the trash...maybe don't toss them just yet.  Because you just never know when you might decide to get a proverbial wild hair and spontaneously finish it.  After all, you have nothing to lose, and it might just qualify as a success, at least on some level.  


  1. Beautiful painting and inspiring message. Maybe I'll need to take a look at my UFO (unfinished objects) pile this long weekend and save a long-neglected quilting project.

    LeAnn aka pasqueflower

  2. Thanks LeAnn - I'd be tickled pink if someone else decided to start working on or even finish up a similarly discarded/abandoned project after reading about me doing it :).

  3. So glad you didn't toss it!!! It's beautiful. I tossed one last week, but a 2nd that almost went in the trash is what I'm working on now. Good lesson to learn...

  4. Thanks Liz - it actually looks a bit better in person...a bit lighter and warmer.

    From time to time, I actually like tossing old/bad paintings out, or washing off/repainting surfaces when that's an option. I'm sure I would be horrified to see art that other artists have tossed that I probably would have loved. We are surely our own worst critics, but that's not always a bad thing.

  5. Really like the patterns, composition, and color in this one, Sonya. Nice work-reworked. Isn't it funny, if we sort of sneak up on a piece and pretend we've nothing to lose, so why not give it a stab, you didn't even sit or put an apron on... things turn out great. Maybe, it's giving the sub-conscious a little more free-reign that helps.

  6. Thanks much for your comments, Diane. I wasn't so happy with some of those elements as I was working on the painting (what I had in my mind and what ended up on the paper were different...happens not infrequently with plein air work, I find), so I really appreciate your thoughts.

    You are probably on to something with the subconscious involvement, too ;).

  7. Beautiful painting and post!

    Great finding your blog through the Etsy Finding Fine Arts team...
    I am your newest blog follower! #80!

    Mary C. Nasser

  8. Thanks so much for your visit and follow, Mary - I appreciate it!


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