Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Plein Air Painting

I've had several people ask me what "Plein Air" means. Simply, it means painting in the outdoors. It also means being prepared for cold, fog, rain, sun, heat, wind, bugs, dehydration, starvation, criticism, and anything else that comes with painting outdoors. There are also a lot of positive things about painting outdoors. I have the opinion that it keeps me "honest" in my work. When you paint outdoors with all the colors and elements there before you, it can be the best teacher. I also enjoy being able to re-connect with artist friends that I haven't seen in a year.

I'm in Cedarburg, Wisconsin participating in its annual Plein Air Festival - a 10 day event featuring 160 artists from around the country. Here is how it works:

Check in on a Wednesday. Paint in Port Washington, WI.
Thursday - paint in Cedarburg or Port Washington
Friday - paint in Cedarburg
Saturday - QUICK PAINT. Each artist must check in at the registration table in town with a blank canvas. The volunteers stamp the back of the canvas, and record the time that you check in. You are given 2-1/2 hours to get to where you want to paint, set-up (it's wise to lay out paints before you check in), sketch out and paint an entire painting, frame it, and return to the registration table with it. It sounds intimidating, but is actually exhilarating.
Sunday-Thursday - paint in Cedarburg
Thursday morning - Turn in paintings. Each artist can turn in their "best" two paintings from the Cedarburg days, and one painting from Port Washington.
Friday (June 27) - Come and see all the works on display!

Saturday and Sunday (June 28-29) is Strawberry Festival in Cedarburg. If an artist wishes, they can participate in "Paint the Festival." I won't be painting the festival this year, but it can be a fun experience. This festival draws tens of thousands of people and is the climax of the Plein Air Festival. Most of the artists will opt to leave any unsold paintings at the Cedarburg Cultural Center, to be on display until August 9.

I've also been asked how difficult it is to transport wet oil paintings. For those who aren't familiar with oils, they can take up to six weeks to dry. These panel carriers have come in very handy: https://www.raymarart.com/Wet-Painting-Carriers-Wet-Panel-Carriers-s/21.htm. I like to paint on panels when painting outdoors. The thicker surface keeps light from shining through from the back side.

Here is one of the paintings I worked on while here:

Cedarburg is a lovely community!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Be Not Afraid

This is my most recent painting in a series of Angels. There is a story behind it if you care to read further. If you are interested in this original painting, or a print of this image, please contact me at kathleen@kathleeneatonart.com. Thank you for looking!

Be Not Afraid
36" x 24"

I started out this year full of good, artistic intentions. Nothing was going to get in the way. I joined some online art marketing sites and purchased books to inspire my growth as an artist. But I wasn't “myself.” My asthma had gotten worse, and I was susceptible to viruses and infections. I didn't feel like working, and, if you are an artist, you know that it takes focused attention, and some physical labor, for your work to be successful.

I'm sharing this, not for sympathy, but to raise awareness and maybe help even one person who might be similarly afflicted. For the past two or so years I've struggled with a variety of ailments. It started with a tooth infection. After two root canals and multiple antibiotics, I asked my dentist to pull the tooth. It wasn't his fault my roots are so long that they almost reach to my brain. (That's a joke, but it did take two hours to remove the tooth.) Healing was slow, but I thought I would finally start to feel better.

I continued to have a variety of issues like sinus infections, sore joints, tiredness, and low-grade fevers. I was starting to wonder if I had cancer, lupus, fibromyalgia, or whatever. Well-meaning friends and family told me to stop working in oil paints. I wasn't as productive as I had been in the past, but I didn't believe that the paint was the issue. I have an industrial, barrel air cleaner going constantly in my studio, whether or not I'm painting, and it keeps the air very clean. I take vitamins and probiotics, exercise (probably not enough), and eat fairly healthy, avoiding fast food and limiting alcohol.

Recently I saw an allergy specialist because my asthma continued through the winter when, in the past, I've only had a seasonal form of it brought on by molds and some pollens. She told me I likely have an overgrowth of yeast ("candidiasis") in my system due to the antibiotics I had taken, which could bring on all of the symptoms I was experiencing. Plus, being allergic to molds, I was probably having an allergic reaction to the yeast in my body.

The solution? Avoid sugar, alcohol, vinegar, aged cheeses, breads made with yeast, mushrooms, dried fruit, etc… basically anything that is made with a fermented process, or promotes the growth of yeast. It isn't easy, but I'm trying, and I'm starting to get my energy back. Even though I thought I was doing everything right, I had to take it a step further. It's not easy to avoid all the things that make yeast flourish in the body, but I'm doing the best I can. There are medications that can be taken to speed up the process, but there is nothing like good old-fashioned, conscientious avoidance of what makes you ill.

Of course, my body had other ideas about this new-found health. My gallbladder, which was already known to be somewhat faulty, decided it didn't like my new, healthy regime. So on top of all the other things that I've cut out of my diet, I also removed red meat and fats. I'm not avoiding fats altogether, but cut way back. And, to my surprise, my gallbladder pain is starting to get better too!

If you are reading this, and suffering from similar issues, I encourage you to try modifying your diet. It won't be an overnight cure, but your body didn't get that way overnight either. I read that it can take 3-6 months to reverse the overgrowth of yeast in your system. On the positive side, I've lost weight and am feeling better. I'm back on track and more productive than ever! I have 5-6 paintings in the works at this time, and several more that were recently finished. I've been surrounding myself with angels!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Why Paintings Should Begin From Life

This photo is a good example of why it's so important to paint "on the spot." Look carefully at this photo. As I stood in front of this beautiful home, I painted exactly what I saw. It was a quick study - about two hours of work. But I was able to get enough information to go back to my studio and finish this piece from the photos I took. If I had not had the time to set-up and paint here, the roof and sky would have been lost to me. If you look at the roof of the house in the photo, it fades out. That's what photos can do, especially with digital cameras. They are mini-computers with a mind of their own. Photos rarely record actual colors and depth. Granted, the light has shifted from when I began to work, but the light on the roof was fairly constant. This is the same reason I practice portrait work as much as possible from life. If you don't have the experience of painting from life, it is that much more difficult to paint from photos.