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Plein Air in the Parks 2023

It's been a journey making paintings for this year's Plein Air in the Parks event at Curt Gowdy State Park. If you are in the area on Sunday, September 17, how about a peaceful afternoon drive to the Visitor Center for an art show? Afterwards, you might be tempted to take a hike because the fall colors are just starting pop and the weather is still so beautiful.

Day one I chose my favorite landscape: the prairie. I haven't used oil paints in several years so I had some challenges in the beginning, namely, I could not open some of the paint! Luckily, it wasn't white or a primary color--otherwise I would have been in real trouble. I made friends with a magpie that was curious; and I suspect also looking for snacks. The ravens overhead convinced me to return to the same spot the next day.

Day two I remembered to bring my joint plier to open the stubborn paint, allowing me the use of the very handy yellow ochre color. It was a rainy day, so I had to use the nearby picnic shelter which was inhabited by a sparrow and her nest of hungry birdie babies. I was cold and uncomfortable and needless to say it was a challenge to stay motivated. I muscled my way through, and came out with a colorful rendering of the wetlands around Crystal Reservoir. One good thing about a cloudy day is that colors are more vibrant and easier to see.

Day three I went back to my same spot at Crystal Reservoir near the dam. Instead of listening to birds, this time I listened to humans as I painted. It is officially the weekend, so the park is inhabited by campers. I decided to paint the dramatic red rock ridge overlooking the lake. I'm sure it has a name, and maybe I will find out at the art show on Sunday. It has been nice working with oil paint again.


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