ARTisSpectrum Vol. 31, May 2014 - page 42

ARTisSpectrum | Volume 31 |
As I painted at the San Luis Obispo train station during a juried plein air competition in October of 2012, I reflected, it’s “what
plein air painting gives you – the chance to be surprised” as noted in the poem “Not Fade Away” written by Patti Sullivan.
Three noted California poets tailed three plein air painters during this festival, describing their own reactions and experiences
while observing us working on-site. Writing about it is no less difficult than actually creating a painting…and Patti found the
perfect words to give an unbiased life to the process of painting on-site.
I’ve got crickets on the brain
the kind you can fall asleep listening to
and the kind that rock and roll
My assignment – to meet up with a Plein Air Painter
near the train station
to observe and write about the experience
but first there’s a coffee break at Sally Loo’s Café
then it’s onto business
there’s art to be made – a poem to write
He sets up his easel and shows me the tools of his
colorful round disks called pan pastels, hard
soft pastels, how they can be crushed
have the highest pigment
they will last forever – won’t discolor like oils
and do not fade away like watercolors
Which brings me to the crickets
Yesterday I read about our historic railroad district
how Jack Keroauc stayed here in 1953
writing home that the “nights were hushed…
falling asleep listening to crickets…”
Which made me think of Buddy Holly and his
singing “Not Fade Away”
the song would not leave me all night
Forgotten until today when my painter brings it up
and I’m back in that 45 rpm groove
“…your love for me has got to be real…”
Now I’m concentrating again – hearing about
“…blocking, the big ones first, killing, tooth
warms already down, cool down with hard
He tells me the details always find their way into
the story
but that skateboarder zooming by didn’t make the
same with those two yellow taxis parked out front
of the station
He says he paints what he sees, not what he
knows is there
that’s why the roof tiles look just like what they are
even though they aren’t drawn in
the shading and colors have recreated them
Yesterday when he did his sketches
in the white heat of the day – abundant shadows
then this morning’s fog
“only flat light” to work with
I’m thinking that’s what Plein Air painting gives you
the chance to be surprised
have all your plans come undone
to step back and review all the positives and
a little creative erasing here and there
grumbling and sighing over one “hard wall”
An odd brownish sheet of paper
has been transformed into amazing beauty
pastel sticks left in a jumbled mountain
This is not photo realism
there’s no blue or yellow on that building
but there is now and we’re all the better for it
Now the sun wants back into the action
too late – we’re done here
“it has got to be real and not fade away…”
Plein-Air Poetry with the artist Steven R. Hill
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