Here’s wishing all my family and friends a very Happy Holiday and Blessed New Year.
I’ve managed to get out every week to paint, except for this week. I scheduled a paint out at Willistead for Monday, but the fog had other ideas. Many of our group members are from the county. The last thing I want is for someone to drive in that mess. It looks like December’s weather is going to continue to make things difficult for painting outdoors. We can paint in most weather, however, rain is a pain!
I’m happy to say we did get out and paint in the first snow of the year. We went to the Transportation Museum and Heritage Village. They were decorating the museum and village for Christmas. We had planned on a group breakfast in their 50’s inspired diner. Little did we realize that they had changed the diners hours for the winter. How disappointing! However, the kitchen staff was there cooking up lunch for the volunteers, so they kindly opened up just for us. We were blessed!
I painted a wee log cabin that day. It was originally owned by the Clark family. They were some of the original settlers in Essex County. The family still lives in the area, as do many who were granted land by the Crown. I went to school with the descendants of the family who lived in this tiny home. I had no idea that was the name of the cabin until someone mentioned it on Facebook. Funny thing, my maiden name is Clarke. Call me silly, but it made my day.
snow, oh no!
It was a chilly day, and while I was painting it started to snow. Regular oil paints would not be budged in this weather, but I paint with water soluble oils, and they don’t like to get wet! Like the Richard Harris song, you don’t want to leave the cake out in the rain. I had to quickly turn the painting upside down. I ran off to get my van and umbrella to try to shelter my work from the snow. I did manage to continue painting in spite of the snow. I wanted to complete it on site. Almost all of my work is done entirely on location. I live in a very tiny house, and as a result I have no indoor studio space. The great outdoors in my studio.
I made the painting into a holiday gif, that you can see above. That was NOT easy! I had to learn how to do it. I looked up the tutorials online and worked on it for days, in a free program called The Gimp. The Gimp is much like Photoshop. I struggled with the tutorials, and it just was just not working. Eventually, just did it my own way. Guess what, it worked! You can see the original painting without the snow below, and soon on my available paintings page.
On The Clark Cabin painting, as well as many of my paintings, I used a limited Palette. On the Clark Cabin palette included: Yellow Ocher, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Yellow Light, Quinacridone purple, a dab of Cadmium red on the bow, and Titanium White. I’m sure those strange colour names can be a bit confusing; artist quality colours are generally named for their ingredients.
A limited palette is a challenge many artists impose on themselves. The goal is to see how well you can mix colour. For Plein Air Artists, the less paint you have to carry in your gear, the better. A back pack can get heavy very quickly. If you are flying with your gear you really have to watch your luggage weight.
I’ve taken up this challenge many times. I’ve not always recorded what paint I used. I’m embarking on a new habit of photographing my palette before and after the finished painting. A three colour plus white is the ultimate limited palette. This palette usually includes some form of the three primary colours of Red, Yellow and Blue, but there are many shades, and hues of these three colours and knowing how to work with them is the challenge.
In the slideshow above you can see the limited palette I used on the painting, Malden Hiltop, along with an on location sight size photo. Sight size is another very common method of painting which I will cover in a future article.
Other painting locations last month include: Studio, still life Pear Study, Lakeside Park in Kingsville, and McAuliffe Park, in Tecumseh. (Click on any image to see details.)
I’d like share with you what I’ve been up to in the last few weeks. As always, I’ve been busy organizing paint outs with my group, framing paintings to exhibit at Artilicious, painting, entering paintings in contests with the Oil Painters of America, delivered a painting to its new home in Amherstburg, cleaned up a flooded basement, (yah that happened) and went to three fundraisers in one week. Yep, I never stop.
I sent a photo to Arms Bumanlag the weather reporter at CTV Windsor that he used on his Facebook site on October 27th.
I Painted a few paintings
Delivered a painting that I painted at the Doors Open event in Amherstburg.
Had a great time at Artilicious, the Kidney Foundation fundraiser at Caesars Windsor
I entered these two paintings in the Oil Painters of America Online Showcase.
Donated a painting to a fund raiser to help a family with three children who are going blind.
People say I’m busy. I guess they are right! Thank you for following my painting journey.
Acrylic, Art, Bible, Canada, Corporate greed, Death, determined, Disgrace, Do not go gentle into that goodnight, dogged, dying, dylan thomas, Forgive, Forgiveness, Genisis 1:28, God, Grandmother, indefatigable, insistent, Land grab, Landscape, life, Nature, Oil painting, Ojibway, Ontario, patient, persistent, Plein Air, resolute, Revive, Spiritual, Spirituality, staunch, steadfast, Strong, strong-willed, tenacious, Threatened woodland, tireless, Tree, unflagging, unshakable, unswerving, untiring, unwavering, unyielding, urban sprawl, Watercolor, Watercolour, Willow, Windsor Ontario, Wisdom
I’ve actually painted this old willow more than three times. I’m continually drawn to it. It’s tenacity to remain upright no matter how much the storms and age try to take it down, intrigues me. With broken limbs, and burled trunk she sprouts new leaves every spring. Each time I set up in front of her, I study her many bruises. I think how much we also get bruised and battered in life. Hopefully, we hang in there like this strong tenacious willow.
She is respectfully known as “The Grandmother” by the Ojibway natives. She resides at the beginning of the northern trail at Ojibway Park. She, maybe broken, but her spirit is strong. No one who passes by, can ignore her. This park is currently threatened on all sides by urban sprawl. Stand tall Grandmother. Stand your ground. Speak of all that you’ve seen in your long lived years. Speak to the world a wise word of warning.
Genesis 1: 29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.
30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. ~NIV
God help us. What have we done? Forgive mankind for our disrespect of your precious gifts. I pray it’s not too late.
Dylan Thomas, 1914 – 1953
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Art, Art and Music Festival, Art Council Windsor and Region, Art Exhibition, Art Festival, Art Reception, Art Show, Art Show and Sale, Art Walk, Artist, Artspeak Gallery, Canada, Canadian Artist, Color, Colour, Creative, Creativity, Exhibition, Festival, Festivals, Fine Art, Food, July, Landscape, Live Rock Bands, Local Food, Music, Music Festival, Nature, Oil painting, Ojibway, Ontario, Outdoor Painter, Patio, Patio season, Plein Air, Plein Air Artist, Public, Rock Festival, Sale, Summer, Summer Fun, Walkerville, Walkerville Art Walk & Rock 2015, Windsor Ontario
So many things happening this month. Oh the EXCITEMENT!! I’m finally having my first solo exhibition! Next week should be quite interesting. Over a year ago I booked our local Art’s Council. I actually booked last week, but they called me and said they had to move me one week ahead, did I mind. Actually, I did mind as there was another event that I like to attend every year, Explore the Shore. Moving the date would mean missing that weekend. There were no other openings, so I had to take it or loose out on the gallery all together. Little did I know what would happen.
Every year the neighborhood of Walkerville has an Art Festival. I happen to live in this great historic neighborhood. This is a pretty exciting weekend. They close down the streets. Rock bands play, patio’s fill up and there is a great deal of excitement. You never know what weekend they will choose. Well, what made this so exciting is that my show just happens to be running during on the weekend of this great event! I did not plan this, but mind you, I had hoped. This means that the traffic in the gallery will be quite high. So, think of me next week, and come visit me at the Artspeak Gallery. My show runs from July 20th until July 25th.
Arts Council Windsor & Region
1942 Wyandotte Street East
Windsor ON N8Y 1E4
So what else is happening?
As you may or may not know, I run the Windsor & Essex County Plein Air Artists group. We have a solo show in the lovely town of Amherstburg at the historic Gibson Gallery. The show has 12 fantastic artists participating in it. The work is simply phenomenal. Our opening was a great success with a full house. We have been asked to hold the show over to August 2nd, and we are planning a closing reception on that Sunday afternoon. So if you missed the first reception, you have the opportunity to attend the 2nd. Join us from 2 until 5 at the Gibson Gallery in Amherstburg, On.
the Gibson Gallery
Fort Malden Guild of Arts & Crafts
140 Richmond Street
Amherstburg, ON N9V1G4
Earlier this year the University of Windsor Alumni Magazine contacted the Alumni and asked them to submit articles for publication. They published my article in its entirely. I guess that makes me a published writer now?
Or read it here or go to the source:
Elizabeth Gaye MacDonald, BFA ‘01
I’ve had a wonderful 2014, and 2015 looks to be a great year as well. I am an extreme plein air painter, currently working in oil. Extreme, in that I paint in all weather, even sub zero temperatures. There are no bad weather days, only bad clothing choices. I make sure I dress for the weather. I rather paint in cold weather than in extreme heat. You can always dress warm. My dream is to paint in remote areas. However, getting to these areas is a challenge, due mainly to the cost of an expedition of this sort. The biggest cost is camping gear, canoe/kayak, and 4 wheel drive transportation. The other challenge is convincing my loved ones that this type of extreme expedition is safe. There are many dangers in the wild. I grew up extreme camping with my family. I don’t live in fear of the wild. I embrace it.
What is Plein Air Painting?
It never surprises me when people ask me what I mean by Painting en Plein Air. En Plein air is a French expression which means “in the open air”, and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors. I often think that many know to whom I’m referring when I mention Canada’s plein air “Group of Seven.” The reality is that many haven’t any idea what or whom I’m talking about. Happily, Plein Air Painting is currently celebrating a revival around the globe. Just do a Google search on Plein Air Painting and you will get over 3 million hits, and the Windsor & Essex County Plein Air Artists won’t be very far down the first page.
Plein air painting is not easy, but it is extremely rewarding. First off, being outdoors, in itself, is the best reward. When painting outdoors, you learn to work quickly. Light and shadow are constantly changing. You can’t chase the light, you must make a decision on when to capture that one moment in time. The artist must always be aware of where the sun will be at any point during the day. How will the sun affect the scene? Then again, you might be painting at night or on a cloud covered day where shadows are scarce. That’s when Plein air gets really interesting. What effect does the available light have on the scene? Can you recreate the mood? Cloudy days are difficult, night time is near impossible. How do you even see your canvas at night? I have a head mounted LED light that helps me to see the canvas.
You maybe a studio painter and think that Plein Air painting is not for you. However, the act of painting from life outdoors will improve your studio work. I must warn you that painting outdoors from life may just spoil you from ever painting from a photograph again. The experience becomes a memory not soon forgotten. Ask anyone in our and they will tell you that there is no greater joy for us, then when we are able to paint outdoors. But, introducing others to painting en Plein Air is a joy in itself.
2014 – 2015
2014 gave me the opportunity to paint in some great locations. In August, I painted at the Paint Dexter Plein Air Festival. This is one of many week-long painting competitions available throughout the U.S. There are a few in Canada, but nowhere near as many as in the states. There were two categories judged during the Dexter event. The judge for the Dexter Plein Air Festival was internationally acclaimed artist Kenneth Cadwallade, current President of Oil Painters of America. The first category was for work completed on location during the week, the second category was a quick paint. The artists had 3 hours to paint, frame and submit their work for judging. The quick paint is nerve wracking, but I thrive under pressure. It forces me to transcribe what I see as quickly as I can. Painting quickly tends to loosen my touch, and I record only what is necessary. Because I paint outdoors regularly, I feel I have an advantage others less practiced artists. To my joy, I placed 2nd in this category. I also sold all 5 paintings that I produced during this event. I am looking forward to participating at the event again in August of 2015.
In addition to the Dexter event, I spent the month of September painting in Seattle, Washington. I had the opportunity to paint with many different Washington based artists. There is camaraderie amongst Plein Air Painters. The common bond of painting outdoors joins us across miles, generations and social stature. Another significant event in 2014, is that my work was featured on the cover of the publication Important World Artists vol 1 https://wwab.us/shop/publications/important-world-artists/ In 2015, I was accepted as an associate member of the Oil Painters of America.
In 2009 I co-founded, and run the Windsor & Essex County Plein Air Society. We’ve recently changed our name to the Windsor & Essex County Plein Air Artists. We have missed only a couple of weeks in the last year, due to rain. I’ve even managed to paint in the rain under the shelter of a plein air umbrella. Please feel free to visit the group website: https://wepleinair.wordpress.com/ Here you will find a blog post for every outing we’ve done since September 2011. The full list of outings dating back to 2009 can be found on our Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WindsorEssexPleinAir/events/?past
About the group
Our group, The Windsor & Essex County Plein Air Society, was established in 2009, and is devoted to educating and promoting plein air painting. The core members of the group have painted together since the mid 1990’s. We meet weekly on location, usually on Mondays, at various locations throughout Windsor, and Essex County. The group is open to anyone, and is free to join. For more information email: PaintPleinAir@gmail.com
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Click on images to enlarge.
I spent two blissful days on Pelee Island, but now it’s time for me to buckle down and let everyone know what’s happening in the near future. June has already been a busy month, but there is still more to come. July kicks off many events in Windsor and Essex County. There are festivals everywhere. Amherstburg hosts many summer events. My group, The Windsor & Essex County Plein Air Artists, will be part of Amherstburg summer activities. The Gibson Gallery in Amherstburg, Ontario will host our member’s exhibition during the Month of July.
One of Windsor’s best events is the Walkerville Art Walk & Rock street festival. The streets are closed and Walkerville businesses open their doors and host the work of area artists. You can dine at one of the many great restaurants, or sit and listen to tribute bands as you sip wine and nibble on hors-d’œuvre on the patios.
Last but definitely not least, I’m doing it! For many years I’ve arranged group shows, and never had time for my own solo show. Well this is the year I finally get out there and present my work at the Artspeak Gallery. Do come out and see what I’ve been up to this past year.
Paint out at the Lavender Fest
My group the Windsor & Essex County Plein Air Artists are invited to paint in the lavender fields during the event. We will be there on Saturday June 27th from 10 until 5
Windsor & Essex County Plein Air Artist Group Show
at the Gibson Gallery in Amherstburg.
July 7th to August 1st.
Meet the artists reception Sunday July 12th Noon – 5:00
Website and Map to the: Gibson Gallery
Exhibition & Sale
Extreme Outdoor Painter, Elizabeth MacDonald
Solo Show Artspeak Gallery, Arts Council of Windsor & Region. July 20th – 25th
Two Day Reception during the festival Walkerville Art Walk & Rock July 24th & 25th.
Questions? Feel free to contact me:
Ok, it’s JUNE 1st! WHY do we have 15 MPH winds, and 53oF weather? Monday is painting day, and come hell or high water I go painting. Today, I dressed for winter. I wore leggings under my jeans, a sleeveless T shirt, turtleneck sweater, winter jacket, and a shop coat! I found a winter toque in the van and put that on under my straw hat. I did bring gloves and I wish I had worn them. By the end of the day my hands were so stiff I could not hold my brush. I may have looked ridiculous, but I was warm, except for my hands that is. In spite of the horrid weather it was a good day. Good friends, curious wildlife, many curious onlookers, and I did get a decent painting completed.
Three blocks east of Willistead Park, home of Art in the Park
NO ADMISSION – Parking available June 6th & 7th 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Location: 1030 Walker Rd., Windsor, On. Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/9t00k I will be located in booth A3 which is the first row parallel to Walker Road. I will accept Cash or cheque. All original Plein Air (painted on location) framed oil and watercolour paintings priced between $250 and $350.
Some of the work available for sale.
Tuesday was a beautiful sunny day. Even though the temperature was -8°C or 18°F I was dressed for the weather. My paints however, were not liking the low temperatures. They were stiff and hard to get out of the tube. My pochade painting box was not co-operating and I struggled to get my panel secured. Yes, a few curse words were muttered. Then, I could hardly loosen my tripod legs. I did eventually get set up, but frustration had set in. It took me a bit to settle down, and get into the scene. Some days just don’t seem to go well. I quit early with my painting only partially complete.
Friday we got another beautiful sunny day, and the temperature was much warmer. I set out again to finish the painting. I made some changes this time out. My hubby is always bringing me home random items. He recently brought me a thermal lunch bag. Into this bag I put all my paint tubes, along with a hot water bottle. It really made a big difference in the paint. It was easier to get out of the tube and it seemed to remain workable much longer. It could also be because the weather was not quite as cold. Thankfully, I was able to complete the painting.