My First Plein Air Experience
Plein air painting in Laguna Beach, California Heisler Park
After 20+ years living in Arizona finally, all the planets aligned so that we could escape the heat and move back to where I grew up, California! but instead of going back to the familiar San Francisco Bay Area we decided to go to where I had always dreamed of living as a child. Anywhere in Southern California. We didn't know much about the San Diego area except the week long trip we spent at the Sheraton Marina the summer before when we tried to narrow down the area we wanted to live in. Our move was in February. All we knew was that we wanted to live near the ocean so we landed in North County San Diego which we later regretted because we were so far away from everything.
I had never painted outdoors but when we moved to California I felt possessed to get all the gear I needed and to head to the ocean and start painting. I am not even sure if I had ever even seen anyone paint outside yet so where the passion came from I have no idea. After lots of research and reading through hundreds of reviews I ended up getting the Guerrilla box I got the larger box 9x12 as pictured and I like the big one because it has enough space to hold lots of paint, lots of brushes, my paper towels, mineral spirits, panels etc. and it is still lightweight. If you get a smaller one you will still need to find alternate methods of carrying all the things you need.
The Beginning of My New Life
My husband helped me schlep all my stuff down to Heisler Park where I ran into other artists, that I would later come to know, admire, and even make new friendships with.
A Jane Fulton, Fernando Micheli, and Karen Luz were all there that first day that I arrived armed and ready to paint with my Guerrilla box and my dog Daisy in tow also known as Daisy the teacup Pomeranian.
Yes it is cheesy but, you have to
least for a dog like Daisy. She is my Plein air guard dog.
Look close she's in the picture on bottom right too.
I was actually nervous to paint in front of other people (most people are I found out later), thats me up there nervous but trying to concentrate ha ha. I immediately noticed I had this sense of having to perform as people walked by making comments and also visiting with my dog.
This caused me to have a bit of unexpected anxiety I have to admit but, the enjoyment I was experiencing painting at the ocean completely outweighed any discomfort I was feeling. Also, I was getting help from Jane, Karen, and Fernando who were all very nice, helpful, and supportive when I had any questions. Jane told me to use more paint and get bold which I later learned I need to do! Fernando had just started oil painting he said about 15 months prior. His disclaimer though is that he had been an architect for many years. Which would explain how beautiful his paintings were and how he quickly advanced.
For a short while Jane, Karen and I made an every Friday thing out of it at Heisler but, then of course life got in the way and then I went completely hermit and stopped painting for a good 6 months because another artist said eh to my work. The funny thing was that I didn't really like his work that much either but, I had just lost my mother was in a deep depression and not thinking too clearly so that was all that it took.
It took me 6 months to force myself out of that slump and start painting again. Not the mom slump I am still in that slump but at least I am painting through it now. Why in the world would the opinion of someone else affect me so much? No idea but that was maybe a couple years ago now and my paints are out and ready every single day now.
This first plein air visit lead to so much more for me, from there I learned more about plein air painting by attending my first plein air convention in San Diego. The Plein Air Convention also known as Pace really opened my eyes to the plein air world. There I met some amazing artists that would later become my teachers like Debra Huse, Camille Przewodek, Bryan Mark Taylor, and Karl Dempwolf.
If you are on the fence about painting outside I would tell you not to be. There is nothing like painting outdoors with fresh air all around you and you won't know till you try it.