Working a full time desk job, though it has some perks, definitely puts a damper on the free time I have to do the things I really want to do. Make art, exercise, spend time outside, travel, spend time with friends and family, the list goes on and on. Most nights after I finally get home I find I only have about 3 hours of time to do the things I’ve spent most of my day at the office thinking about. This is if I 1. don’t have any other plans and 2. don’t make dinner. What a bummer. I always want dinner! I know so many people live this daily life and I’m sure many have even less free time than this. I don’t have a family or even a pet to take care of! Though I do live with my boyfriend and it’s important to me that we spend quality time together as well. It’s crazy to me how much of our lives are spent taking care of obligations and not doing what we simply want to do or what makes us happy at our core. Maybe that topic is worth a totally different kind of post later on.
My point is, when I’m free from work or other obligations with some time to myself I like o try to make the most of it. I think it’s safe to say I’m a multitasker at heart and so if I can combine a couple things I’m passionate about into one little package, I’m all over it.
In the past year or so I’ve found great joy in taking a small field kit with me along on walks and hikes so I can paint while I’m out. When I know I’ve set aside the time to stop along the way and dedicate an hour or so to sitting and observing one specific section of the trail it puts me in a totally different state of mind. I find myself paying better attention to my surroundings. Looking more closely at the light and colors, listening to the sounds and taking in the smells. It’s really almost meditative.
Aside from all of that, I also think it’s really important to paint from life. Something that I’m not often able to do, or very comfortable doing frankly. Painting from life is a whole other beast in the world of art. Light changes, perspective changes with just a small tilt of your head, or adjustment of your seat, clouds shift, people come and go if you’re painting a street scene. It’s rough and easy to become confused and overwhelmed. For me anyway.
I really have no formal plein air training, and by “really” I mean I have absolutely zero plein air training. That’s going to change though, as I’m taking a landscape painting class this summer that I am so so excited for! I’m sure I will report back on that after things get rolling. For those who may not be familiar, “plein air” painting simply means to create a work of art outside, it’s a french term that means “open air.”
I find the more I practice setting time aside to paint on trail and through my travels, the more comfortable I become and the quicker my piece will come together. Already, I’ve found that I’m able to get my first wash or two down pretty swiftly without much hesitation, making my decision making for painting in the details a little easier. It’s nice to feel things begin to click and that’s just a testament to practice making perfect… though perfection is not a real thing in my mind.
As a person who always wants to do it all and use every second of my day to be productive this little combination of two things I love has really had a positive affect on my evenings and free time. I’m able to get outside, be a active and create and practice my art! I’m not yet creating masterpieces out there but maybe that will come with time. The important thing for now is being in nature and painting as much as I can.