Monday, March 15, 2021

Plein Air Painting as Therapy

The start of a new landscape on my field easel in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Over this past year, retreating into nature has helped me deal with
world events and life changes.

Yesterday, I talked on the phone to a fellow artist and dear friend of mine. Because we live in different parts of the country, we don't connect all that often. But it's the kind of friendship that's easy to rekindle. We just "get" each other, and despite long intervals between our conversations, we can reconnect easily and it's always fun to catch up on what we're doing with our painting. 

As our nation and the world recently marked the one-year anniversaries of the declaration of a pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns, I've been reflecting a lot on how much my art business and my painting have changed over this past year. Last year, all of my outdoor art shows were canceled and I pivoted entirely to online selling through my portfolio site. Thankfully, my clients have been very supportive and with new Internet technologies, it's easier than ever before to sell original artwork while "socially distanced." 

Still, it's been a challenging time. I miss the personal connection of meeting patrons at art shows. On a lighter note, I do hereby pledge to never again whine about rain during an outdoor art show (at this point, I'd be very happy to just exhibit at one). But on a more serious note, as we mark this one-year anniversary, my head is awash in different thoughts. I've been deeply saddened by the profound suffering and loss of this past year. For example, my friend told me yesterday that her father-in-law passed away from Covid-19 just last month, highlighting again how all of the grim statistics are not just numbers, they are beloved people in our lives. 

At the same time, I am deeply grateful for my ability to work as an artist. Throughout this last year, I explored the beauty of the everyday in my immediate surroundings of Knoxville, the Great Smoky Mountains, and Tennessee state parks. Sharing these places in my artwork is my way of trying to contribute something positive during difficult times. Even in the darkest of times, there's beauty out there for us. 

With the rollout of vaccines, I'm cautiously optimistic that I can take these new works on the road later this year and begin to reconnect with interested patrons at art shows and exhibitions. Until then, I'll keep chugging along in my studio and in my "outdoor office" of plein air painting whenever I need a little therapy to deal with all that's happening. I look forward to seeing you in-person at an event (hopefully!) later this year.