Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Adirondack Plein Air Festival

Rearview Mirror Inspiration, 9x12 pastel on board
Last week I participated for the first time in the Adirondack Plein Air Festival, in Saranac Lake. Below is a summarized account of what I did each day.

Day 1: Paint the Village
The trip to get there took me 4 hours but the scenery along the way was great and I had the chance to take lots of photos for future studio paintings. Once I got in the village the first thing I did was to get my boards stamped then immediately went around looking for a subject to paint in a 5x7 format that I had agreed to donate for a silent auction. After a while I found a river spot, by a supermarket, with a red bridge. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of it! Afterwards I headed for a place I had seen on my previous trip there, that had a nice field and a great view of the mountains.

A Magnificent View, 11x14" pastel on board by Adriana Meiss
 Day 2: Paint the VIC (Visitor Interpretive Center)/Paul Smith College
I got up very early and seeing fog from my bedroom window I decided to scout first some nearby locations before heading to Paul Smith College, 12 or so miles away. Once there I did more traveling looking for a pond to paint. After a while I settled for one I had seen earlier on that morning, but by then I had wasted 2 precious hours!  The funny thing is that three other pastellist arrived to paint the same scene after I got there, Then two other artists painting in oils joined us too. I worked slow and easy on this one and ended up spending close to 3 1/2 hours on it!

Kingfishers'Playground, 9x12" pastel on board
Afterwards, I headed for the VIC in search for more to paint. I really did not find anything inspiring there, but since there was to be dinner for the participants right there later on, I forced myself to paint trees. The painting was coming along well but at some point I ruined it; maybe I put too much darks to indicate areas under branches, in any case it wasn't worth posting it here.
  On the way home I stopped at Donellys' Ice Cream and started a painting of the barn and shed behind the store. I knew my chances of finishing right there were slim, but I got a lot done before it got too dark to continue.

Day 3: Paint the Adirondacks
I went to a marsh area on Rt 3 and found another artist painting there already. The day was cloudy and the clouds kept on changing, and I started chasing the clouds; good thing I realized what I was doing and changed gears. Next time I'm in a similar situation, I'll make sure I either stick with the original design (if it's good) or make the cloud area as small as possible in the painting.

Hope for a Sunny Day, 9x12", pastel on board
On my way to my next location by impulse, I stopped first to paint a shed with a painting of a moose head sticking from a window. My composition included mostly the road so the shed was tiny, but working under the shade of trees did not help and the painting will likely be erased.
I drove several miles to Clear Pond, which I had seen the day before, and although the scene was beautiful, I did not feel like when I saw it first. I had some serious struggles with this painting. First I started it in a vertical format but before I was done with the main outline I switched to a horizontal one. Then in the middle, I simply gave up and erased it right there, which I had never done before with any painting. Very disappointed I sat by the bridge railing and realized that things weren't working because I was very tired. After some minutes of relaxation I tried starting another painting but halfway into it I knew it was a waste of time. I spend  the next hour just taking pictures of what I had produced.

Before heading home (to frame) I went the opposite direction simply to take more photos. Seeing cattle under a tree, I looked for a way to get closer to them. I spotted a side road that intersected the road I was on just a few feet ahead so I took it and had a better view of the cows. I continued driving, looking for a spot to turn around, and that's when I saw  "my scene" in the rear view mirror. My tiredness magically dissipated. I pulled over, got my gear ready, and started to work. I worked fast and by the time it was dark I was done. This was my best painting in the event (it's the painting above). It did not win anything, but I got nice comments on it from several artists, and it sold!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pecking Order, 12x12"

Pecking Order, pastel on board by Adriana Meiss
This pastel will be among the twelve (or fifteen) pieces I'll have in the upcoming A Dialogue with Nature exhibit at Baltimore Woods starting next month.

   It's based on a photo that my friend Shailesh Joshi (artists/photographer) took of his backyard and posted on FB. I loved the light so much that I asked his permission in using it as a reference. He kindly sent to me more photos of that scene, and putting it altogether I came out with this. I actually flipped the image to have the focal area on the right.

   On another note, this week I'm heading to Saranac Lake for the Adirondacks Plein Air Festival. I've been so busy that I haven't had time to paint outdoors. However, I'm going with a new goal in mind: to conquer my tendency to finish work in a hurry. The most I have spend painting one piece on location is two and a half hours. Sometimes that works but very often it doesn't.  So, I need to learn to go the extra mile.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

In Hiding, 18x24"

In Hiding, pastel on board by Adriana Meiss
This is a studio painting done a few months ago for the Onondaga Art Guild Show. It's from one of my favorite places in the area, Meadowbrook Pond. Who's hiding?

Changing the subject, it's official now, I'll be showing at Baltimore Woods Nature Center this fall with my friend Maureen Barcza (oils). The title of the exhibit is A Dialogue with Nature. I gradually learned to converse with nature when I started painting outdoors. These conversations continue in the studio until the painting is finished. The funny thing is that now, even when painting from a reference photo, it is normal for me to engage in a conversation with the photo and my memories of the place.