My very patient mister agreed to come with me to Exmouth for my first en plein air session! I’d had the kit (a pochade on a tripod) for a while, but like a rabbit caught in headlights, after filling it with my oil paints I then spent many afternoons looking at it wistfully. So one day I just woke up and we went. We took a flask of tea: very smug. And needed, because it was unbelievably cold.
Unfortunately I picked the windiest day to tackle a beach plein air. It rained – hard. I became a human umbrella, desperate to keep the wet from my oils, even though we were sheltered in a sort of glass seating thing.
The experience was as challenging as I expected. Gusty wind is damn aggravating. My hair kept blowing all about my face and ended up oily because I get paint everywhere, like a toddler at pre-school. But it was in many ways easier than I expected. Yes, clouds do move swifly, so a bit of improvisation is required, the light changes are frighteningly fast on the sea, but I decided early on to get my light in. What I loved about it was the being outdoors. Painting the actual world. The smells, the sounds, the weather and the people. Many stopped, and I loved that they said hello. People are so encouraging!
The picture above shows where I was about halfway through. It was not a piece I would want to show in any closer detail – in fact, I ended up wiping it, because, well, why not! It wasn’t that good at all, but I really am okay with that because I loved the experience and I know that for me, plein air will be a main part of my creative practice. Plus, the fish and chips at lunchtime after to warm you up is sheer bliss.
This is me in action, snagged from my Instagram feed. Wrapped up like it was Alaska and still cold.