Today was the final day of festivities and a good day it was, indeed. With Eric Rhoads I rode around looking at some fantastic locations, took lots of photos for reference. We guided some of the other painters to a particular location but he and I wanted to paint the St Regis Falls, so off we went. It’s funny how an event like this can forge such intense friendships so quickly; it truly has been a gift getting to know Eric and becoming friends. Ditto that with my Indiana friends, Rick, C.W. and Rebecca. I will be honored to paint with them again in Indiana now that C.W. has proffered that invitation.
A bunch of us were lined up at the falls and they were impressive. Yesterday I met a painter, Peter Miller, a crazy man if ever there was one. He is a tremendous painter, reminds me of Indiana painter Wyatt LeGrand in the sheer speed in which he executes a painting out-of-doors. They are loose and “juicy,” a term I began hearing a lot in hanging with C.W. i.e. lots of paint, lots of lost edges, impressionistic and then some. Peter’s works flirt with the abstract.
Peter is loath to, as C.W. is wont to say, “knick, knack, paddy whack, give-your-dog-a-bone” which simply means putting on details like individual leaves on trees before concentrating on the masses and composition. Too, he would say, “don’t put the damned curtains up before you finish framing the house in two-by-four.” Good counsel.
I painted much looser, much less tight today, probably because both of these crazy men kept coming up to my easel and yelling at me, ha! Whaddaya doing, don't put that there, there's no focus. Get that ochre off your palette, Peter would tell me, it's flat, doesn't stand up. At one point he grabbed my brush, dipped it deep in paint and hit my canvas, dug it into the tree masses, c'mon man, you gotta get in there, he'd say, use your teeth if you haveta, get in there and fight.
In a workshop environment, I don't know, maybe that would have thrown me, but this is cool, man, this is, dare I say, time spent with colleagues? These guys are here only to paint. My suite mate - I must needs write something about him, for he was an exceptional inspiration to me - George van Hook, he would get up early early, like real early, put on a pot of coffee that we also could enjoy some two hours later (!) and off he went to paint. He painted all day, well into evening. I counted thirteen paintings at the exhibit today, and those are the ones he chose to display, perhaps he had made even more sketches.
One night I decided to do a sunset, I knew that I wouldn't have a lot of time and was all set up with the easel and blocked in the scene and then would nail it when I began seeing the sky colors. Figured I had a window of twenty, maybe thirty minutes. At one point I smiled to myself thinking, wow, I am actually painting at a time that George perhaps isn't. Ten minutes somebody walks up to see what I'm doing. We chat for two minutes. She says, "You see George?" I reply, "What?" She says, pointing, "Yeah, he's right out there, you can see the buoy he pulls behind him. He wears a wet suit and swims the lake every night and every morning before and after painting."
Oh, does he, just? The guy is incredible, great energy and focus and he offered a standing invitation to travel to him and paint sometime. Wow.
But let me just say how important this trip has been and give some context. By virtue of participation I now am an honored member of Adirondack Mountain Painters. This is Year Three for the invitational. We should look at the volume of Adirondack paintings done by the Hudson Valley School of painters well over a century ago. It is my understanding they produced some 130 paintings. In three years, this group to which I belong has generated some 2,000 paintings of this very dear and protected region and landscape. It is incredible a thing that Eric and Plein Air Magazine is doing. It is important stuff. And often is brings the hair up on your arms.
Now I'm hustling to get back to the Midwest. Check in later and I shall add Friday's events to this blog. Happy Trails!
LATER. After all is done and the KIA is packed, I hustled eight hours to Bradford, PA, and was incredibly charmed by this historic town. Home of the Zippo Lighter (and subsequent museum) and Brad Penn Oil Refinery (Penn Oil). Dinner in a neighborhood bar that was lack-luster at best but anticipated. I had a room in Comfort Inn, thanks to the efforts of Travel Secretary, Diann, who made the arrangements for me and paid for it with the Chicago City Creatives (CCC) credit card; CCC is a joint-venture we started as partners three years ago that puts together various artistic disciplines - visual art, music, performance - and produces events. Often it is in association with Cap-a-pe Productions, the production company that I founded in 2004. However, a year ago she took away from me the c.c. that bears my name and conveyed to me that one had to put funds into the account in order then to make purchases against the account. Well, I thought then and I think now: that's stupid, whoever thought that up?
I am headed to Fort Wayne to visit with my mother four or five days. It'll take seven or so hours to reach Indiana. Diann will travel on Amtrak from Chicago and join me for the weekend with the family. After dinner I took a jacuzzi at the hotel as my back has been quite sore from camping, hiking, lugging gear, driving. I took another one the next morning even though the pool wasn't open. Then a huge complimentary breakfast in the lobby and, having learned in the Adirondacks, I packed a lunch of two croissant egg and sausage sandwiches, with yogurt, fruit, protein bars and couple of milks for the road. It'll get me to the Fort and I'll not have to stop for food.
In Fort Wayne, I have scheduled several meetings, including a meeting with a collector for a substantial commission that I will deliver sometime in September. I go back on contract at Chicago Shakespeare for the Free Shakespeare in the Parks production of THE COMEDY OF ERRORS, directed and adapted by David H Bell, one of my favorite directors and people in this world, what a classy guy. Rehearsals start mid-July and performances all of July and August. I am certain to meet Rahm Emmanuel again this year, but will not march up to him in the audience quite so aggressively after learning my lesson last year (later seeing all the Secret Service in a perimeter around him). I will arrive Chicago July 1st, ready to attack a new chapter in life. Turn the Page.