Melanie is a college buddy of Angela's and I have spent time with her in the distant past, but not much in the last 25 years. (Am I honestly that far from my youth?!?) When I saw her last April she invited me to stop by any time, so I took her up on it. She lives on her family's farm with her 13 year old son, Yasha, two lively dogs, two cats and Carina, the PhD-girl from my Kentucky post. Mel insisted I use her own bedroom.
The next morning we took a walk with the dogs after Yasha got on the bus. Mel pointed out areas to paint. Down several hills from her house sits a small farmhouse, built in the 1880's. She and her parents lived there when they first bought the property. No one lives there now. Just below that was a faded red barn.
I decided to paint the two old structures. It seemed they had interesting stories to tell and, while I can't begin to guess what they are, I like to tease at their presence. I perched on a hill, leaning forward, and looked up at them. The wind was sharp and a dog from the farm below barked and barked and barked. Twice a rooster joined in. His effort made me laugh.
I sketched and then blocked in the darkest colors. The wind bit. I thought, "I DO have a good reason to do this, right?" The dog continued barking. I focused. I wanted to work quickly and leave before one because of a 5 hour drive home. By 11:30 I was hanging onto the canvas with one hand and slashing the sky on with the other. I was freezing. Mel had let me use her new pickup to drive all my supplies down several grassy slopes (see what I mean about generous?) so at noon I packed up and threw my stuff in the truck quickly in order to get inside and warm.
Today I am home. It is windy here but not very chilly. I lit a fire in the wood stove anyway. It feels good to be home. Charlie cried at me for a long time when I arrived. This morning I took him for a 3 miler and now he is sleeping the heavy sleep of relief.
After working several hours in my studio (on Kentucky), this is what I realized about plein air painting: when painting outside, you do not have time to dilly-dally, especially when it's cold. There is absolutely no agony over choices (like what color, exactly), you just paint. I noticed today that I bring that sense of urgency back with me into the studio. A few "tough" bouts outside and I'm recharged.
This was a successful trip. I am happy to have wrapped up three states with minimal fuss and maximum enjoyment.