Having just participated in an art workshop for 3 days, it was so filled with adventure that I have come away comparing it to what kids might feel like when they go away to camp. The busyness of preparation with getting supplies together, the trepidation of feelings, “Am I going to succeed at new tasks?”, and the exhilaration of “I am having fun!” The fun, in addition to the satisfaction of learning something new, comes from being with other artists who encourage one another, give grace at the stumbles, tell funny jokes and some dumb ones, too, and express gratitude at the good days and the fact that we get to do what we do. The other fabulous feeling comes from admiration that another human being can do something unique and to such a high degree of competency that it fills me with inspiration and a grateful heart for being shown the way. Charlie Hunter, who has developed a style of his own, was so willing and generous to share his process and help us experience his way of working that I came away with faith that I will continue to find my bliss. I was inspired and feel that I can paint and explore processes in any way that I want, and that I, too, will find my own mountaintop. This is a good life. I am grateful.
Painting en plein air is not for everyone. There are challenges. First, logistics. I am my mother’s child, and I want to have my needs met at any given time. This means that I carry a lot of supplies – a rolling cart and usually another bag that holds the gadgets. I want my favorite brushes, stool, umbrella (sun protection), water device, the right canvas, sketchpad, viewer, pencils, palette paper, trashcan, easel, and tripod, camera for photographing scenes and birds, hat, sunscreen, bug spray, beverages, snack, and now there are new gadgets, oh, but they are such fun, mark making, tools.
The joy of getting away and focussing on art is such a gift that it makes the logistics part bearable. I’ve had the pleasure of taking a class with Charlie Hunter through The Chestnut Group this week. It was different than anything else so far, and frankly, I didn’t know that I would even like painting in this monochromatic, tonal style. Let me tell you, it has drawn me in like a moth to the flame.
If you have ever wanted to try painting, or if you already paint and you are looking for a community of artists, consider us, The Chestnut Group. We will encourage you and share what’s been shared with us.
I will continue to negotiate the cold, heat, humidity, sun, weather threats, bugs, long distances to restroom facilities, logistics and unknowns. The payoff is so worth it. Painting and birding, two of my favorite pastimes, are afforded in one outing. I am fortunate.
Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville, in 2015. Renee is inspired by nature and enjoys hiking, birding, and the garden. To see what she’s working on, visit her website: www.reneebatesartist.com. She contributes to HerSavvy, a blog featuring writings from a group of well-informed women wishing to share their support and experience with others. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, enjoying flora and fauna is a family affair.
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