Painting pleine aire, even when there are amenities (water, bathrooms, shelter) isn’t always easy.
Having gotten a late start on our way to Fossil, Oregon, we stayed overnight in Prineville, a town of about 10,000. It rained. and rained. and rained some more. For the most part, neither oil paints nor artists do well in the rain.
However, at our motel, the corridor ended in an enlarged hallway with a window. Across the parking lot, the little railroad, and the highway could be seen a shopping complex with a barber shop and a sub shop. Painting it was better than laying about in a motel room, wanting to paint. And the scene was typical of Prineville, at least as we know it.
Quizno Subs, Prineville (OR), oil on board, 12 x 16.
I’m particularly fond of the bluff above the shops — they surround Prineville and give the town its high-desert character.
The next day we went on to Fossil, stopping at the Painted HIlls (in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, near Mitchell, Oregon) where I did another attempt at capturing that weird and wonderful landscape:
The Painted Hills Overlook, John Day Fossil Beds (May, 2008), Oil on board, 12 x 16
The photo here isn’t of the finished product; I did a bit of tweaking after we got to Fossil but sold it before I could photograph it.
On Friday, we headed off to another unit of the John Day Fossil Beds, the Clarno Palisades area. And there I did my favorite of these sessions:
Clarno Palisades and Ranger Station, oil on board, 12 x 16
The winding road sign took on a snaky resemblance, which delighted me, since rattlesnakes, my bete noir, are habitues of these rocky climes. And the slightly off-kilter ranger station came out of my desire to fix what I was actually seeing. I’ve been reading Rackstraw Downes on visual perception and the odd visual things that we actually see, as opposed to what we think we see. So here’s the evidence:
This photo was taken from where I sat to paint. The camera, and our eyes, would tilt the horizontal base of the building upward a bit, particularly because I had the camera set for the widest angle photo I could manage. In the painting, I had to crunch the elements together a bit because of the verticality of the surface and that changed the way the building sat on the ground. I keep learning more and more about empirical perception versus “scientific” perception and what our minds tell us we are seeing. –June