Plein Air paintings are the most fun to do. Sitting outside under a sun umbrella or inside the motor home, working very quickly with a lot of concentration, a painting is finished in one sitting. There’s a lot of visual information in the view and I must simplify. I tend not to move landscape elements like trees and mountains about, so a lot of time is spent driving around and looking for locations. If the weather is bad (too rainy, too hot, too cold, too windy) or there are too many bugs, I paint from inside the motor home looking out through the large window of the dinette. Both small motor homes that I’ve owned were chosen for their layout to allow for this.
Due to their smaller size, these paintings are more modest and less ambitious than the studio paintings. They don’t have the drama that comes with the contrast of detail and expanse that’s possible in a larger work, but they can show colour, light, motion of water and a looser form of expression. What’s more interesting in painting on location is the element of surprise for the painter. I don’t know which way the painting’s going - sometimes I want to rip the whole thing up in the middle - but usually I keep at it and I’m often glad I did. Months later, I’ll look back and think, “It looks fine. What was all the fuss about?”
In the early 90’s I mentioned to my husband Gene that I wanted to buy a small motor home and paint from it. I said that it would be wonderful to sit outside and eat cornflakes on a log. His response was “Yippee” with his tone indicating the opposite. He’s since changed his mind and has started painting too. I suspect that when all’s said and done and we’re reduced to the memory of our happiest times, a lot of what we thought was important won’t figure very large. It’ll be all the painting trips we took together that we’ll remember.