Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Lieutennt River Morning
Rain and then wind, and a busy, busy schedule has kept me in the studio, though I desperately want to get out to paint as I watch the trees beginning to turn. But I have contented myself with doing another large studio piece based on a plein air painting. It is really amazing how a piece done outside helps you recall in vivid detail what the day was like when you painted the scene. The field study this piece is based on was painted on an August morning. It was HOT, record temperatures were reached and as I recall that particular day ended up being the hottest day of the summer. I stood under a large, old spreading tree looking south along the river. The Lieutenant River feeds into the Long Island Sound and is very much affected by the tides. Tide was out when I began, and it was pretty smelly, and quite a few gnats and mosquitoes were pestering me. The thing I remember most was that the sky was bright but hazy and the light from the left was bright and diffused and fell gently over the landscape. I-95 crosses the river and there was a major accident further north and you could hear the sirens of emergency vehicles, and see the traffic backed up for quite a while. The thought of a traffic accident made me think how our lives can be changed forever in an instant and reminded me to count my blessings and enjoy each precious day and the beauty that's all around us. Towards the end of my painting session a long string of Canada Geese came swimming down the river, and a heron or two flew over and a peace and calm settled over the river and marsh as the mid-day temperatures rose. All of these memories brought back by the field study I was able to draw upon when working on this larger piece in the studio. That's why I rarely, if ever, work from photographs. Plein air is just so much more real.

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