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September 2013



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Morning on the Fishing River--plein air

River--plein air, originally uploaded by Cathy (Kate) Johnson.

This past Saturday, we had a citywide plein air outdoor painting event, and I had a ball! It was intense and exhausting--I put in about 6 straight hours painting on the spot--but it was challenging, intriguing, and fun.

"Plein air" means literally fresh air, in French, and has come to mean painting outdoors on the spot. It's a bit like downhill skiing--none of your usual studio controls or comforts, just out there with the weather, the changing light, the bugs, and your art supplies. I LOVE it. I normally paint like this several times a week, winter and summer, but this was the first time I was part of an event, and working in a concerted fashion in my town's downtown area.

Fishing River runs right through Excelsior Springs, Missouri--a pretty little river that sometimes turns violent. Saturday morning she was at her limpid best, slipping quietly between early morning banks rich and thick with primal greens. Turtles swam lazily below the bridge; fish jumped. A heron speculated on the possibility of breakfast, and so did I.

It was humid and sticky; my watercolor paper felt as if it had been dipped in the bathtub. Pencil lines didn't want to take on the suddenly-soft surface--nothing behaved as it usually did, so I just threw caution to the winds and WINGED it!

I tried every technique in the book and a few that are NOT there. Spatter, calligraphic strokes, drybrush, wet-in-wet, spraying with clear water, fingerpainting...and meanwhile the light just kept changing.

I thoroughly disliked this painting when I finished...and by the next day it had grown on me. It's like that, sometimes...

...and I'm grateful.

So, Friday night I'll be one of the artists at the reception at Gallery 105, at 105 E. Broadway in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. If you're in the neighborhood, drop by and see everyone's work--both the permanent artists who show there all the time, and the gypsies, like me.


i can smell the humidity in that painting. i liked it the second it flashed up on my computer screen. i used to live right near minnehaha falls when i was a little kid--a nice falls right in the heart of the big city. this reminds me of the creek below, when it wanders off to join the mississippi river. it's no longer in a hurry to plummet over the precipice. the "work" is done, and now it can meander to its heart's content. love the greens, and the light dancing in there.

and i wish i could be there for the reception! i will be hawking thropot's porcelains at a renfest, instead. someday, i will turn up on your collective doorsteps down there, just grinning like a fool, paintbrushes and ignorance in hand, waiting for enlightenment!
Isn't that the same falls Emma Bull featured in War for the Oaks, one of my all-time favorite fantasy books? I LOVE the Pook...

I wish you could be here too, sweetie, and whenever you show up you know you'll be welcome!

And you're making me want to watch Cold Comfort Farm again. :-)


The day after

It's wonderful how sometimes a painting that was so so looks much better the day after. Of course, this one looked wonderful from the moment I saw it. I too love the greens and the water is perfect.

Re: The day after

Thank you! Yes, it's one of those little miracles, isn't it? Distance from our work is GOOD.


Ink splatters

I really love the ink splatters. They both fit and are somewhat abstract. Very cool.

Re: Ink splatters

Thanks, Domenic, I liked them too!
Lovely colors; very moody.
Thank you! I did like the color of the water...