Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Risk Success

I started plein air painting this year. Once a month, art instructor Phyl Doyon schedules an outdoor location where we paint for a few hours. It’s a totally different type of painting. I’ve come to believe that painting landscapes is the most difficult subject matter and painting outside is completely dissimilar than painting in a studio. There were seventeen of us who painted with Phyl last Monday. We were on a back road in a beautiful valley dotted with ranches and multi-million dollar homes. The valley is surrounded by the beginning of the Santa Monica Mountains on one side and gentle rolling hills on the other.
While I wasn’t particularly pleased with the results of the day, I was did enjoy being with nature and the process of trying to paint outside.

Saturday evening arrived, my husband was working and I was looking for something to do. I decided to gather up my paints and head for the hills. I love the Santa Monica Mountains with the combination of rolling green with an occasional outcrop of rocks jutting through the surface. That was what I was looking for. I decided to go down Mulholland Highway, well known as the subject in many movies about Los Angeles. Molholland dissects the length of the Santa Monica Mountains.

I was traveling along a stretch of road that didn’t offer many side roads. If I wanted to paint, I was going to have to pull onto the shoulder of the road, pull out my equipment and paint for the entire world to see. I was slightly self conscious, preferring not to be standing by the side of the road. There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t have stopped. Thoughts of, “What will people think?” would have prevailed and kept me from doing what I wanted.

As I get older I’m less inclined to let those thoughts dictate my actions. I may still have them, but they come, are examined and then gone. It was a beautiful evening and I was faintly aware of the cars and motorcycles that whizzed behind me. Did they wonder who the crazy lady was who painted by the side of the road? Maybe. But I focused instead on the color, the light and how it hit the hills and shadows cast by the setting sun and experienced a moment of bliss.

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