Monday, June 19, 2017

Waiting for the Sun - Buck's County Plein Air Festival

"The Farm On York" (oil on linen, 14"x18"). Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

We spent a mostly cloudy week at the Buck's County Plein Air Festival, but when the sun finally did peak through, it made all the difference. The forecast was for overcast skies until Thursday, so when we struck out on Monday afternoon, I was looking for some high contrast subjects to paint.

We started in Newtown, Pennsylvania, a charming town filled with picturesque homes. From down the street, one house in particular caught our eyes. Its purple shutters made it stand out from the others around it. I set up across the street, and despite the occasional rain, got to work. As I painted, the sky continued to darken, and the threat of a more torrential downpour forced me to stop. I left feeling that the painting was flat and uninspired.

Painting in progress, before the sun made an appearance.

The next morning was more of the same weather, so Kimberly and I again searched for a subject that would lend itself to this type of lighting. We found it in Cuttalossa Farm, the former home of impressionist painter Daniel Garber. The farm is located in a deep valley, and the dense trees bounce the available light around, giving everything a beautiful cool green glow. Even on the wet, rainy morning we were there, the scene held a peaceful tranquility.

Cuttalossa Farm - photo by Saunders Fine Arts

I chose to paint the sheep barn on the property. I liked the way it fell back into the darkness of the trees, while the intense green of the algae on the water led the eye right to it.

"Cuttalossa Farm" (oil on linen, 18"x24"). Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

That afternoon, I decided to return to the painting I had begun in Newtown. After another hour of struggling in the gloomy weather, the sun finally made a brief appearance. This was all it needed. The light on the roof, tree and bushes added all of the depth that I felt it had been missing.

"Mercer & Congress" (oil on linen, 16"x20"). Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

The forecast for Thursday morning was finally for sun, but not for long. We had driven past a beautiful horse barn the previous afternoon, and I had a feeling that it would look great once the light finally hit. I arrived at 5 a.m. and waited for the sunrise. I was not disappointed. With all of the moisture in the air, the colors were intense. The light outlined the forms, and the painting came together in only a couple of hours.

Shortly after I finished, the sun decided to leave us once more. Kimberly and I chose to return to Cuttalossa Farm. Not only was the barn beautiful, but I wanted a crack at the tree line. The trees at the edge of the forest had a bone like quality that made them pop out from the rest of the foliage. It was yet another peaceful afternoon.

"Bones" (oil on linen, 16"x20"). Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.
Cuttalossa Farm Shed - photo by Saunders Fine Arts
Friday morning (the first full day of sun) was turn in time for all of our paintings. That evening at the awards ceremony, I was honored to receive third place for "The Farm On York."

3rd Place for "The Farm On York." Photo by D. J. Kane Photography.

Saturday morning was also a beautiful sun filled day, and the day of the quick draw. Buck's County Plein Air has a true quick draw, clocking in at only an hour and a half. After a week of searching for the form on gray days, the bright sun made painting a pleasure. I was able to complete my painting in only 45 minutes, and was awarded third place. The sun makes all the difference.

Finished - 45 minutes into the quick draw. Photo courtesy of Laurie Paola Rubinetti.

"Tyler Turret" (oil on linen, 12"x16"). 3rd Place at the quick draw.