Last weekend I participated in a plein air competition on Cape Cod hosted by the National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society in conjunction with Addison Art Gallery. I've done a few of these things, you show up with an empty canvas, they stamp the back to show they saw it blank, and you come back in a set amount of time with a finished piece to hang. As a (mostly) studio painter, I spend a good deal of time alone, painting solo, being a hermit, and the part of me that thinks it knows what's good for me always insists I register for these plein air events when they're local--to get out and meet people, pretend to be social. But somehow that never works. It seems to me that most people attend such events either with the intention of slipping off alone to some secret painting spot, or in the company of friends who already know each other and so don't really need to meet anyone new. And so every time I attend, I end up by myself, marginally irritated with the world, and wondering why I thought it was a good idea to leave the studio in the first place. Except, standing in a beautiful place for a few hours really is reward enough. Even with only paint and ticks for company. And I'm never irritated enough to stop myself registering for the next one--my cynicism is endless betrayed by the persistent hope that the next one will be different. There really should be a Society of Plein Air Hermits. I'd be right at home.
Oh, and here's proof I was there ('cause the ticks are dodgy witnesses). Set up in progress, and the end result: