Falls at Estabrook

October 3, 2013
Falls at Estabrook; Oil on Canvas Panel 11" x 14"

Falls at Estabrook; Oil on Canvas Panel 11″ x 14″

I participated in the Shorewood Plein Air Festival. It is a charming community at the north end of Milwaukee.

I arrived in the area on Wednesday evening and checked in early Thursday morning to get my canvases stamped (to verify that the paintings turned in were painted during this event). The sky was dark. Rain was immanent. I decided to take a drive around the community to scope out possibilities. The rain began. After touring the town, I made my way to one of the tree lined streets and found a scene that appealed to me. A homeowner indicated interest in having a house portrait created.

Because of the rain, I did not create any preliminary sketches. Mistake.  I spent the first hour and a half holding an umbrella in my left hand while painting with my right. My left arm ached. Wind added difficulty. The constant changes in lighting made my task a chore. I worked at it hoping that I could pull it together. The rain would stop and then start up again. As miserable as this work was going, something nice happened. At one point, a woman backed out of her driveway, rolled down her window to inquire if I would still be here for another twenty minutes or so. I said that I would be. Later, the woman returned and came over with her two young daughters to see the mess, er, I mean the work which I was creating. Better yet, about forty minutes later, the woman came back to deliver a couple fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. Very unexpected. Very delicious.

By the time I was finishing this painting, the rain had stopped, the sun was out and my painting was confused. I lost the initial vision.  I decided to stop and examine the painting later to see what could be done to save the work.

I took a break for lunch and made my way over to a park on the west end of town. Found a few other artists painting at the falls. I made my way down the stone stairs, and eased along the trail to examine the possibilities. It was getting warm and humid. I found a spot a couple hundred yards down the river, away from the other artists. I went back up to the parking lot to gather my gear. I returned to my spot and realized that in my haste, I grabbed an unstamped canvas. If I wanted to submit the painting to the competition, it had to be stamped. Not wanting to leave my gear unattended, I grabbed all of my gear and traveled back up to the parking lot, retrieved a stamped canvas and headed back to my spot. Lost about fifteen minutes and was now drenched with sweat.

I set up and got right to work. Wasn’t certain how I would handle the falls and the foreground foam, but I trusted that the solution would come to me while I worked the painting. About half way through  the painting, a young man approached. The fellow is with the association sponsoring the event and was filming a video blog of the artists. We spoke for awhile as he filmed. Flattered to say that part of our discussion made its way into the blog. I continued painting and the solution to the falls and foam came to me.  Took about 2-12 hours and two bottles of water to complete the painting.  Finished, I grabbed my gear, headed back to the car and then off to attend a dinner for the artists.

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