Thursday, June 7, 2012

Spanish Daggers, The Cove, Plein Air, Oil Paintings, Landscapes by Vonnie Kohn

"The Cove"

"Spanish Daggers"

May was a very busy month! Lately I've had several opportunities for painting "en plein aire"-a term which means painting in an outdoor setting. Sounds romantic, eh? In Texas, artists have to endure the elements of insects, heat, sudden spring storms, and prickly pears or cacti as they hike into remote areas to find beauty. Such was this trip. I was participating in Arte de los Brazos, a juried art competition at "Possum Kingdom" Lake, an area that survived wildfires involving hundreds of acres the previous year with a substantial loss of homes. This place has evolved into a resort community with retirees from corporate life escaping the large cities of Dallas and Ft. Worth. I was curious to see if "beauty had emerged from ashes." So it had. 

When I go on a plein air outing, I travel very light, carrying an 8 x 10" pochade box, some 9 x 12" wood panels, a set of water soluable oils, a paint thinner & a small amount of medium. Oh, yes, a couple of brushes, although my fingers have been known to "double" as a painting device. The morning had rained, delaying our party of about 15 painters. We headed out as soon as the clouds broke.

 In "The Cove", my goal was to capture the fast moving overcast clouds before blue sky completely covered the area-fifteen minutes later! There is an area of burnt ridges in the distant background. The sun was trying to break into the scene with a glow on the mesquite tree in the foreground. I had to paint quickly to capture the fleeting light.

"Spanish Daggers" was a term given to the yucca plant in the early days. It is amazing how our planet can renew itself when devastation has happened. This was originally intended to be the underpainting for additional layers, but became an impressionist painting itself as the colors emerged. The redder trees in the background behind the yucca stalks were burned-out post oak trees still standing. Juxtaposing the green yuccas in front of their red counterparts complemented the hardy plants. Yellow wildflowers completed the composition. "Beauty for Ashes," don't you agree?

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