The last time I painted Plein Air things went terribly. Today, I decided to try again.
I drove out on 62, and turned off on Paris Ave where I saw a field full of hay bales. I ended up stopping and set up my easel on the side of the road and got to work.
I walked up and down the side of the road a bit before I settled on the scene. I decided to paint looking up the hill a bit because it gave more of a sense of perspective, and it seemed like a unique composition.
When it came time to paint, I fairly quickly realized that one of the big mistakes I tend to make when I paint outside is that I don’t pay close attention to the water content in the palette. This time, I tried to focus on this more closely, and I think the results were much better than past attempts.
I don’t have a whole lot to say about technique, other than I really tried to pay attention to the tones that I saw around me. When I think of hay bales, I think of them as yellow. I started painting them that way, and then reminded myself to “paint what you see, not what you think you see.” So I re-evaluated the scene, and noticed that the hay bales were actually a mix of purples and greys. So – I quickly changed my approach, and painted the hay bales grey instead. I’m glad I did this when I did, because they started driving a tractor and scooping up the bales. By the time I was done, all the hay bales were gone!
Halfway through, the folks across the street came out and tried to get their dogs to stop barking at me. They seemed like nice folks.
They drove off, and the dogs never came over – in fact, for the first time ever painting outside, no one stopped and asked me any questions. It was really quite pleasant.
So far, almost every Plein Air painting I have done, I have given away. Giving the paintings away is actually my favorite part of painting outside. I hate the fact that the Art world is so bourgeoise. It’s down-right asinine that owning art is a luxury that a lot of people can’t afford.
I want more people to own art, because the more people own art, the more people appreciate art. The more widespread art appreciation is, the more our culture will prioritize art. The more our culture prioritizes art, the more we will be culturally wired to look closely at the world around us. And the more closely we evaluate the world around us, the greater our ability to empathize with others. If we can build a culture based on empathy, we can literally change the world. How much less likely are hate crimes in a culture that values empathy?
That’s why it makes me so annoyed at shit like Jeff Koon’s “Balloon Dog,” Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ,” and any Vantablack monstrosity by Anish Kapoor. Hell, I even hate Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain” — which took a lot for me to say because his “Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2” is one of my favorite paintings of all time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these things aren’t art. They are. It’s just that when a manufactured metal balloon animal sells for 90 million dollars, everyone slaps their forehead. Art has become some kind of bullshit status symbol – it has to be difficult to understand, or abstracted from standard conceptions of beauty and symmetry and blah blah fucking blah. It’s incestuous. The ultra rich pay millions for a crucifix in a bottle of urine, or a photo of ejaculate, and the creator straightens his ascot and laughs to the bank, and 99% of the world sees how ridiculous it all is.
This isn’t just a problem for the people spending millions of dollars on two blue rectangles. It is a problem for our society at large. Because the art world is so far out of reach for most of the world, but financially and conceptually, most people just disregard art.
The art I create isn’t valuable, and often it’s not even very good, but as I work on improving, it’s important to me that the art I create remains accessible.
This time when I was done painting, I drove across the street and knocked on the door. No one was home, so I left the painting in the door. I hope they like it.