Painting a day 2016-Day 6-Cliff Cave Park

Day 6, I took it outdoors.  I met up with a couple of friends who are members of Missouri Plein Air Painters Association or MOPAPA.  They meet every Sunday at different locations and paint en plein air, have lunch, visit, and give each other pointers.  It was a beautiful, spring-like day.  It was a warm but windy day along the Mississippi.  We met up at Cliff Cave Park, a park that I’d never been to but was interested in exploring.  As I was driving down the road to the main pavilion, the first thing that caught my eye was the large cliffs that the railroad tracks ran along side and trees and brush separating the tracks from the river on the opposite side.  The tracks led right to the arched bridge that crossed the river.  I’ve learned that if something catches my eye that much, that’s what I need to paint.  If I have no feeling towards something, the process can become a struggle.

I did walk around and tour the park a bit, just to see what was there and see if something drew me in more than those bluffs.  I was also intrigued by the barges on the river but they were back-lit and I knew it’d be a tough paint with the sun in my eyes….maybe next time.

I set up my easel, pulled out my sketch book and went to work with a couple of thumbnail sketches.  I knew the bluffs would be a tough subject so, I did some prep work.  After doing the thumbnails and deciding on a square canvas panel, I went to work making a monochrome sketch on my panel.  After getting the bulk of the scene down, I asked a good friend and fellow artist, Judy to take a look and give me pointers on the composition before getting too far into the painting process.  That right there is one of the best things about painting with friends–the second opinions and fresh eyes!

I’m not going to kid, even with the prep work, the subject was challenging and made me second guess my choice more than once but, that’s when you learn the most, right?  I continued to work through the ugly duckling stage and with pointers from other artists that walked by, I think the painting came out all right.  I struggle with painting rocks sometimes and this bluff was no different so, that was one of the main reasons I knew I needed to paint it.  I left feeling tired, a bit accomplished, and with the umph to try and tackle that subject again sometime.  I would say that’s winning!



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