This past weekend was the first time all summer that I’ve been able to paint for an entire day. I treated myself to some R&R at Omega Institute, in Rhinebeck, NY. It took 4 hours to drive there from Boston; not bad, considering the traffic backup we encountered around Springfield. After arriving in the early afternoon, I was able to scope out possible painting spots so that I could start bright and early the next morning.
Morning at the Lake
The last time I came here (in 2006), I spent an entire day painting at the lake (see my SHOP, or go directly to the 2 paintings from that day: Omega Morning and Omega Afternoon). I returned to the Lake to relive some of that perfect summer day, and I was greeted by the same quiet, restful beauty. This is the nearly-complete painting from that morning:
Mary’s Farm in the Afternoon
I’ve come to Omega a few times and have always been enamored with a farmhouse about a quarter of a mile down the road. On this trip, I brought my relatively new easel and I was excited about the views it would afford me. After lunch, I packed my equipment into my Art Comber, and walked down to the farm. There were several people busily fixing a truck when I arrived. I approached them with a casual wave and introduced myself, telling them how much I like their farm and asking if it would be OK to paint it. A woman with short blond hair and a friendly smile said, “You mean paint a picture?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Well, sure, go knock yourself out!”
As I set myself up underneath a large tree, sheltered by its calming shade, I breathed in the pine and gave thanks to the day. Quickly, the hens came to visit. I don’t think I’ve ever been that close to hens! The horses watched me for a short while. The black cat sauntered over for a back rub and chin scratch. I then became part of the scenery and painted.
After an hour or so, the blond woman came walking towards me saying, “I thought you might like some cold water before you wilt in this heat.” She handed me a bottle of water, and we began to chat. Her name is Mary, and she’s the owner of this fine farm. It’s 250 years old, and in excellent condition. I’ll send Mary a picture of the painting when it’s finished, but here it is in its early stage, still needing lots of work:
Challenges at the Sanctuary
The Sanctuary at Omega is tucked into the side of a hill. It is quite lovely. One entry takes you on a boardwalk between 2 lily ponds, with a small fountain on one side. There are peepers sitting on the edge of the pond, and they are adorable. This is where I spent my last morning painting.
The morning was a bit chilly, so I was wearing blue jeans. After I set up my easel and started to paint, the sun rose above the tree tops and I began to realize that I had not chosen my spot with this in mind. It got hotter and hotter. I didn’t want to move, because I was locked into my blissful “scene”, but I was not feeling very blissful.
An hour into the painting, I realized that I was also struggling with the composition. There was a candle situated on a pile of stones that I felt was juxtaposed nicely with the lily pads. Yet, here I was drawing and re-drawing those straight edges that kept looking stranger and stranger. Finally, I stopped and took a deep breath. Exhale: ahhhhhh! “Get rid of those stones!” I said aloud. With the exhilaration of artistic license, I painted water over those stones and they disappeared.
Ironic that I would be so challenged painting at a Sanctuary!
I’m still not entirely sure about what to do with the background, but for now, I have a painting that I can enjoy finishing in the comfort of my backyard:
Overall, it was a fantastic weekend. Perfect weather and a good balance of solitude and socializing. The cumulative effects of painting all day are very therapeutic for me. It’s a mixture of tiredness, satisfaction, and peacefulness. Painting is my meditation.