Plainly Plein Air

At this time a week ago, I was sitting by the edge of a pond, scribbling my way through a squiggly pastel drawing of a house in the woods. The occasion? My first plein air art competition. (For readers who know the Principia school area, I was about half a mile down the road at Longview Farm Park.)

A few hours later, I started and completed a little painting of a birdhouse. Since I had less than an hour and a half to do it, I challenged myself to capture my painting style during high school. (Click to enlarge.) To compare it to something I did paint in high school, click here.


From the contest I learned and reconfirmed a few things (some of which apply to life at large, not just art):

  1. Take your time — you have more of it than you think. Like the old toy mender in Toy Story 2 says to the impatient, money-seeking owner of Al’s Toy Barn, “You can’t rush art.”
  2. Similarly, it’s better to work steadily on one thing and be happy with it than throw five things together in a slapdash run for the finish.
  3. If you’re going to paint outside, it’s so much easier to use an easel that actually has legs. (I have a tabletop easel.)
  4. (& 4B) As much as I love the outdoors, landscape art, and imagining environments for my stories, plein air painting isn’t my thing. At least not with a short deadline — I appreciate having ample opportunity to shape my drawings & paintings into detailed completion.
  5. Try new things & revisit the old — it’s good for you.
  6. Never, ever drive to run errands during lunch hour.
  7. Display your artwork next to the cookies. Then everyone will see it. 🙂

Artwork from the competition is on display (and for sale) at Longview Farm House through Monday, November 17, including during the Holiday Boutique on the 15th. If you’re in the area and want to check out the gallery, the address is 13525 Clayton Rd., Town & Country, MO, 63141.