Saturday, March 2, 2013

"And A Good Time Was Had By All... I Think!"

My first serious Plein Air painting!
About three weeks ago, before the rains came and the colder weather returned, me, Mary Monk, Carol Hallock and later, Louis Morales, drove our rolling studios out to the end of a road through Big Branch nature preserve in LaCombe, LA as far as the shell covered roadway could take us before dead ending into Lake Pontchartrain. 

It was a gorgeous afternoon just right for a Plein Air outing. It was my first serious outdoor painting attempt and I learned a lot just getting reacquainted with acrylic paint and a few flat brushes. But, later on, I was invited to watch Carol attempt to capture a gorgeous setting sun. Carol moves very quickly with very decisive, bold strokes capturing, if not the reality of what she sees, most definitely, she captures the mood, the color and the intensity of the moment. Her style seems to embrace the kinetic energy of her subject matter. It was fun to watch her work! Also, I learned when you paint outdoors, you can't afford the time to render a painting unless you want to return two or three times to the same site and hope you can get the same kind of environment you had on your first visit.

Pretty much, that's what I did with this 11x14 canvas board painting. Like Carol, trying to capture the spirit of a setting sun, I could not stop the waves or the gulls and pelicans from their perpetual motion.  It took me three visits to finish this piece and, classic Ben Bensen, it probably will never be considered finished! All tolled, I think I put in about another three hours in two more visits to the site before I announced to myself that the painting was completed.

I'm pretty satisfied with my first effort. I acquiesced to the need to have a definite focal point, which is  the landing pelican. The artist in me said leave it out, but the salesman in me demanded it be put in. Oh well...

Watching both Mary and Carol record their visions was a real treat. One this first day, I put in almost two hours of setting up, painting and packing up, but in between paint strokes, I sauntered over to Mary's van, where she was working on a rather huge horizontal pastel drawing, and, while she worked, we talked about each other's art and sensibilities, selling one's work, art gallery etiquette, and goals. As it grew darker and Carol had finished two of her paintings, we later went to dinner where I got to meet and speak with another pretty good outdoor artist, Louis Morales and his wife Debbie. Apparently, Louis is a regular with this group and pretty much keeps in touch with the art scene here in the Northshore area. It has to be a scene I'll have to get more acquainted with too if I am gonna pursue this type of painting.

As I drove away, having said our goodbyes, I assessed it was a very profitable experience. It was nice to be the student again and be with people with similar yet divergent interests.

All things considered, a good time was had by all...

Copyright 2013/ Ben Bensen III


  1. Nice, Painting looks great! Debbie and I enjoyed meeting you as well.


    1. Thanks Louis... thanks also for the comment. Let's do it again!