Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Gatekeepers

The Gatekeepers, 6 x 8
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The temperature was in the thirties this morning at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. Since I already chickened out of the previous two paintouts due to cold weather, I decided I had better show up this time, lest I take on the rep of being a thin-blooded milktoast.

Unfortunately, I was, indeed, enough of a milktoast not to confirm by yesterday whether I would show up this time. This fear of committing on record was due to a sub-freezing forecast for early this morning.

As it turned out, even this less severe strain of artistic cowardice came back to haunt me. I did make good on my internal promise to come out to paint today, but of course, I was the only one to show up.

Here I was thinking I would finally get to see some painting friends I hadn't seen in three weeks due to my past milktoastness, only to be disappointed. Alone in my exposure to the early morning elements, I called the president and priestess of Plein Air Austin, Laurel Daniel, to learn that the paintout had been canceled, altogether. It turned out no one else replied to the email invitation, either, and because of the apparent lack of interest, the cancellation.

If I only had the guts yesterday to commit to painting this morning, I would not have had to paint alone. Laurel, at the very least, would have been more than happy to come out and paint, as long as she knew anyone else wanted to. In the meantime, however, she had already started in working on a commission and was too involved to come out on such late notice.

So — I learned a very important lesson this morning. When painting en plein air, it's okay to be a milktoast, as long as you admit your milktoast status up front. If you think you might NOT be a milktoast, but aren't quite sure, just be firm in your commitment. And do so at least one day in advance. Moving on.

In the landscape above, the various plant life on either side of the trail struck me as almost human sentinels, with the power to allow or deny access to anyone venturing down the path.

Hmm, plants with distinct personalities. I must have been more than cold this morning. I must have been really, really lonely.


Nancy Merkle said...

Definitely milktoast here. Plein air is such a challenge, I only attempt it on warm, sunny days with no wind. Congrats on your painting--it turned out well--a lovely painterly feel.

Trish Siegel said...

I too, am milktoast! I am super impressed you were able to paint in that cold. My weather window for plein air is much narrower than yours! Nice work!

Laurel Daniel said...

You are TOOOOOOO funny! I would never call you milktoast! You have painted in 100+ degree heat, in blinding sunlight, on edges of cliffs, in dangerous neighborhoods (I consider car thieves dangerous), in the rain from your dashboard.... no, not milktoast. Now you can add sub-freezing to your list - bragging rights, I say. :) And a very great painting came out of it all - good for you for sticking it out!

Kim said...

Well, you got a wonderful painting for your efforts! Plein air is full of challenges (but it's more fun when you're battling the elements with others for company >: )