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a surefire way to humble yourself as an artist….

by | Mar 31, 2015 | en plein air

self protrain by vincent van gogh

“self portrait” ~ by vincent van gogh ~ oil on canvas ~ c.1889

Yesterday was Vincent Van Gogh’s birthday (March 30, 1854). Happy Birthday Vincent! I could think of no finer way to honor him than by getting outside and painting en plein air—my first outdoor excursion of the year! Hooray!

Nor can imagine a more surefire and immediate way of humbling and frustrating myself as an artist than getting outside and painting en plein air for my first outdoor excursion of the year….


I haven’t painted en plein air since my October art residency at the Brush Creek Ranch.
Mind you, I’ve been painting. Oh MAN have I been painting! [More about that in a future post].
But not ‘traditional representational landscapes.
And not with oils.
And certainly not outside.

Till yesterday.

‘Been wanting to!
‘Been meaning to!

But….’Been so busy with other aspects of being an artist [More about that, too, in a future post].

blossoming orchard by vincent van gogh

“blossoming orchard” ~ by vincent van gogh ~ oil on canvas

But when The Met Museum reminded me yesterday via Instagram [More about that in a future post, too.] that March 30 is Vincent Van Gogh’s birthday, I thought, “THIS IS IT! I’VE GOT TO GET OUT AND PAINT TODAY!”

And so I did.
For the first time in months.
And if you are like me and you haven’t painted since last season, then this is what you have to look forward to:

— Forgetting your cool little stool.

— Discovering the the first 3rd of your tube of Titanium White paint is dried and needs to be gouged out with some kind of implement which you don’t have. (Finally found a small pocket knife in the bottom of my pack).

— Getting alizarin crimson all over your hands and clothes (note left edge of paint box)

— Dropping your loaded paintbrush in the dirt.

— Discovering you didn’t bring enough paper towels.

— Discovering you don’t have a bag for your soiled paper towels.

— A stiff back from sitting awkwardly on a rock that was just a wee bit too high.

— Setting out on a clear sunny afternoon and, just as you’re getting into your painting and the gorgeous play of sunlight on the foothills and spring time trees, having clouds appear out of nowhere—NO WHERE!—and suddenly kill the sunlight and shadows, effectively deadening your scene.

—  Despite it all, being utterly overjoyed to be out there painting!


the lomas foothills (albuquerque) ~ by dawn chandler ~ oil on panel

painting en plein air ~ the lomas foothills (albuquerque) ~ by dawn chandler ~ oil on panel ~ 5 x 7 inches ~ painted with a “limited palette” of just ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson, hansa yellow and titanium white (+ apple for sustenance)