When I paint outside I’m at the mercy of the elements, a pawn of chance. Painting outside means dealing with change. Many artists say they are capturing a moment, the truth is we capture a series of moments. A painting isn’t a picture it’s a notation of a block of moments, a collection of recordings of the passing of time within a relatively narrow frame of reference. Maybe we are tackling a scene with trees and mountains and sky, a series of different objects each being recorded at different times during a, say, 2-3 hour period. That means that the trees have one direction of light source and the mountains, when you get to them, are a little later in the day. The same is true for the objects in the frame, some are prone to move or come and go entirely and planning a composition around these free range objects takes a little faith.
Case in point is this painting I did in Easton. I saw this subject one day while painting a moored boat next to this wonderful boat makers shop. When I saw this scene I knew I had to have a go. But it was a scene in need of a focal point. The boat was there, not going anywhere in the next day or two, and then there was the peripheral stuff, the paint cans and windows and architecture of the joint. But it lacked the human element. Many times I avoid people in a landscape. Who needs them when you have mother natures resplendent beauty. But here I had a boat being worked on in need of a boat worker. When I set up the next day there was scaffolding present so all I could do was hope that someone would show up, that they would end up in the right place at the right time and that I would get them in under the right light conditions… a lot to hope for. But that’s just how I go on these things. Either it works out or it doesn’t. With this scene the workers showed up as I painted around them. They started at the bow and worked their way south to the stern. The sun peeped through the windows for about an hour and a half and as this one sanding and heavily tatooed gentleman worked his way toward the hotspot I waited, working around where I hoped he would be and sort of praying it all just worked out. As it turned out the light and the worker ended up in the same place at the same time. He was in that spot for maybe 10 minutes and I happened to get him right without one edit. Doesn’t always work that way but I keep the faith that it will.