My daughter had three friends spend the night on Saturday and they requested a trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Art on Sunday. We had a great time spending a couple of hours admiring the art. The friends had only ever been once before and they all seemed to enjoy themselves. They even volunteered to submit themselves to art experiments and adventures under my guidance here at the house. Which we were going to start that very afternoon with a paper marbling session, but I got a call from a painter friend who wondered if I would be her plein air partner for the afternoon, so the girls took a raincheck so I could go try my hand at open air painting (more on that later).
Rather than lug my sketchbook or a bag in the museum, I grabbed two sheets of 6x8 paper and folded them into my pocket which also contained a Sakura micron pen. That way when I wanted to sketch I could just whip out my mini supply kit and go for it. That is one advantage of going to a museum with 15 year olds, they can wander well ahead and no one gets lost or scared. I managed only three drawings in the museum, and when I got home I ripped the folded paper into tiny sheets each with its own drawing, and then I glued them into my journal and added frames. I like the results and I will go to the museum that way again. Always amazing how one drawing ends up "the warmup" and is not as accurate (horse in this case).
After returning I packed up my gear, really my bag full of paints and clips and a drawing board along with some paper, and went out to Excelsior to paint with my friend Pat, who is an amazing painter and my coworker. I have been wanting to do some plein air painting, it just seems to go along with the on location sketching that I have been doing. Pat has been raving about Golden Open acrylics all spring and how great they are to paint with, even though she is usually a watercolor painter. So I figured I would go paint, nervously, with Pat and try my sample kit of Open while I was at it.
All that being said, Pat told me she did the same thing earlier this summer, with the paper. She also told me it took her about a year to get the hang of the plein air thing. So I am not going to give up, I just need to try again, next Sunday with Pat. She said she would call me with a location.
All that being said I made a couple of mistakes/tactical errors that afternoon.
First - I have been using watercolor or liquid acrylics (also by Golden, they are simply the best) in my sketchbook and in my art for the last couple of years. Which means I have experience in these mediums and should have tried the new plein air part in a medium I was comfortable with rather than switch to something I was new to using.
Second - I chose to use Arches watercolor paper, because I love it and it works well for me when I use it to paint the way I normally paint. Let's just say I was frustrated from the beginning. The paint is different than I am used to, I like washy color and using layers of translucent paint which is a very different feel and process than the Open acrylics. The paint and the paper did not get along - at all. Watercolor paper absorbs paint and water, that is what makes it fabulous to paint on with wet watery paint. With thick, slow to dry paint being applied with lots of water, it also absorbs paint and water, but in a new and frustrating way.
Third - I froze, I thought too much, and I let my mind overtake the process. Rather than enjoy my day and just let go and try something new, I got in the way of myself. Which artists can do quite regularly.
So my first try at open air painting was frustrating and I hate the painting, which I abandoned in favor of my sketchbook, a pen, and watercolor.