Foul Weather Painters.
What is a foul weather painter? No it is not a painter who has been away from a shower for a while. These are the bluebloods and die hards of painters; the Bruce Willis's of plein air, beaten up by bitter cold winds, soaked and cold with snow and rain, burned by the scorching sun, eaten by bugs, scratched by thorns and branches, and even chased by irate land-owners and dogs.
A few years ago, I was priviledged to be invited to join a group of artists from the Arts and Letters Club in Toronto, at the Bridgewater Retreat near Tweed, Ontario. The weather was very typical of spring here in Ontario, with plenty of cold wind, sleet and rain. John Joy, one of Canada's iconic plein-air painters, was in attendance and showed his true grit as he painted while the wind-driven sleet kept most of the other artists inside.
I watched and talked to John as he showed me how he dealt with winter painting in watercolour.
John used a propane heater for drying the painting and saline solution for his brush water.
Watching John paint in those conditions prompted me to get out there and do the same. I managed to get three small 12" x 16" oils done in short order. Although I was not impressed with the scenes in front of me since there was no sun to enhance any shapes or colours, it dawned on me that really all I needed to do was simply paint what I saw and felt at that time.
"Ice Break-up at Bridgewater" - 12" x 16" Oil on Panel
"Bridgewater in April" - 12" x 16" - Oil on Panel
Summertime photo of the Bridgewater scene painted above
We cannot always choose the conditions that we paint in if we are to really call ourselves "Plein-Air Painters". John Joy and I did not necessarily paint pretty pictures that day, but we did do our best to produce an honest interpretation of what we saw and felt.
Perhaps if you happen to see one of these dedicated souls working away in the wretched weather at the side of a highway, just wave or blow your horn from the comfort of your car to let them know that they are not forgotten. ;-)
Keep those brushes clean and ready to go!
John Joy - 1925-2012
Quote of the week:
"Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing."