WordPress keeps track: it has been 21 days since my last post. Oh, dear! I could look back at my calendar to nail down exactly what happened in these three weeks, but I know you’d rather not hear about physical therapy and closet cleanouts and yard sales. Or mishaps with cars. That last event will have long-lasting repercussions. My auto insurance company does not want me as a customer anymore. I feel humiliated. I’ve had a bunch of smallish accidents–fender benders, we used to call them–followed recently by my backing out of my garage with the hatch back still in the upright position. For safety reasons, cars crumple when they meet resistance, so the old-fashioned fender bender is now a very costly proposition. I never used to have any kind of accidents; in fact for many years I went without auto insurance and I never had reason to regret it. But now I am leasing a car and boy! that insurance coverage is a necessary resource. I am now thinking I need to find a way to survive without the luxury of car ownership. I won’t have to decide until June.
Last weekend Sharon Allen was my ride. She took me and my painting gear with her up to Bartlett for the Fall Artists’ Getaway Weekend. Besides Sharon and me, and Byron Carr of course (he organizes the event), we were joined by Betty Brown (Wolfeboro), Michele Fennell (Kensington), Suzanne Lewis (Rhode Island), Morgan Murdough of Henniker, Sean Carroll, Elaine Farmer of Amherst, and Beverly Belanger with her husband Joe. Our best day was the Thursday travel day. We painted from overlooks first on the Kancamagus Highway and then Bear Notch Road, which is a shortcut to Bartlett when it is not closed for snow. Sharon sold one right off her easel. While she was working on her 6×12 vista view, I was working on a tall tree portrait on a 16×12 panel. The blue peak in the far back is Mt. Chocorua:
Our next stop on Bear Notch Road produced this one from me, more of a vista on a smaller panel (9×12), very representative of my style.
Friday we spent the day at train stations, first the depot in Crawford Notch, then the big station in North Conway. The weather was threatening rain all day, so we chose spots where we could seek shelter and still paint, ergo, train depots. My morning painting never got finished, but it has potential. Trees need skeletons to hold up those leaves. Note the tiny hikers emerging from the path up Mt. Willard.
It was not finished because after only one hour, all of us agreed that it was simply too cold for us, and besides, we were hungry. We returned to the Inn to eat leftovers from Thursday night’s dinner and get ourselves warmed up for the next round.
The weather seemed somewhat improved after lunch–the rain seemed to have ended and all we had to contend with was clouds and wind. We did not need another train station for shelter, but for some reason, we ended up there. Silly artists! After the afternoon train pulled out of the station for its leisurely trip north to Crawford Notch–the very spot we had abandoned that morning–three of the four of us started a painting that depended on those tracks remaining clear of trains. What were we thinking? And I had deployed a 20×16 panel to work on–way too big to finish in an hour, which is about how much time we had before the train was back. Not a good day in terms of results. But did we learn anything? Beware of tracks bearing trains.
Friday night most of us dined together at the Red Parka and returned to the Inn to drink wine and talk, talk, talk. I held out until the end but it was getting pretty hard to keep the eyelids propped open. It wasn’t even ten p.m. and I usually stay up past midnight.
Arriving late to join us was Ginny Barrett, an artist I know from the Manchester Artists Association. Ginny is not a plein air painter. She was there to do a story about plein air painters on her local access TV program. Her videographer was to join her Saturday and they would be conducting an interview with each artist over the course of the day.
Saturday: Interview Day. To keep all of us in the same general area for the sake of the interviewers, we gathered at the meadow west of North Conway, via the road signed as “Balcony Seat View”. Albert Bierstadt was somewhere near this spot when he painted “Moat Mountain”, a beautiful and accurate vista that hangs in the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester. I learned something about the sun, my eyes, and the deceptions practiced upon me by both. You see, I had discovered years ago that when the sun shines directly on the surface of my painting, I paint too dark. So I avoid that situation, sometimes by using umbrellas to shade my work space, sometimes by turning my back to my subject matter and peeking over my shoulder. And sometimes by facing the sun so that the panel creates its own shade. Saturday morning I could have used an umbrella and faced White Horse Ledge, but I decided to face the opposite direction, and paint what I could see in that direction, which meant the third option: I was looking right into the sun. Imagine my shock and horror when I later discovered that my painting was just as dark as if I had the sun shining directly on it, instead of into my eyes. Michele said it probably had something to do with the narrowing of my pupils in the sun. Here is the result–the painting looks like a nocturne (painting of night scene).
The cold and wind chased us out of that spot too, so the softest of us (that would include me) decided to try our luck at Glen House. In January a few years ago, when Sharon and I tried to paint en plein air up north in the dead of winter, we had sought shelter at this oasis across from the Mt. Washington Auto Road, and they allowed us to paint inside, looking at the weather through their floor-to-ceiling windows. This time we came in with four painters plus Ginny and Paul (the photographer), but we were again allowed to set up and paint inside. Having already wasted two 16×20 panels, I wisely brought out a 9×12 to use for a modest painting of the clouds and peekaboo mountains. It was snowing on top of Mt. Washington, and the clouds swirled in and out, obscuring then revealing first this ridge, then that one, and the sun occasionally found a hole in the clouds with which to torture us with brief glimpses of light.
This was a fun and rewarding project–from the inside, where we were warm and sheltered from the wind. Outside there was rain, there was sleet, there was hail, and of course, some snow. I’ve decided I paint much better when I am not totally miserable. Must be age. Used to be that a little misery took me out of myself and allowed purer artistic instincts to emerge.
Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:
At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester. For the month of October I have two paintings in the Womens Club of Concord, part of a three-part 20th anniversary exhibit by the Womens Caucus for Art. However, the hours during which the WCC is accessible to the public are unpredictable. You can visit the other two parts of the 20th Anniversary exhibits at the Kimball Jenkins carriage house and the Concord Chamber of Commerce.
As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases and the like at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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