Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Plein Air Painting at Wellfleet

In September I attended a 5-day Plein Air Workshop in Cape Cod, MA.  It was put on by Jennifer McChristian, an award-winning plein air painter.  It brought together 12 enthusiastic artists from all over the northeast.  To see Jennifer's work, go to jennifermcchristian.com.

Jennifer Teaching Me [Photo by Bruce Newman]
The workshop was centered around Wellfleet, a small fishing port on the north shore of Cape Cod.  On the first day we met at the Wellfleet Preservation Hall, a century-old building which had been restored in the last 15 years from a Catholic church which had fallen into disuse and disrepair.  The first day was filled with lectures, displays and demonstrations which were useful to orientate, instruct and motivate us.  

The remaining four days were structured the same.  We gathered at a designated place in the morning and usually spent the morning watching Jennifer do a painting demonstration.  This was very informative and useful for our endeavours later.  In the afternoon we all did our own paintings, under the careful eye of Jennifer.  She was available to give us whatever help each of us needed to execute the painting of whatever individual composition we had chosen for the day.  Jennifer's husband, Ben, was always with us, acting as administrator, gopher, porter or whatever was needed.  He took very good care of us.  

Jennifer provided us with a materials list in advance.  She was very good at outlining her methods of composing and executing the painting.  She uses a few different colours and it was interesting to watch her work them into an interesting painting.

One interesting place we went to paint was the Truro Vineyard on Cape Cod.  This was a large vineyard which was well set-up for visitors.  We got to paint whatever scene we chose, whether it be rows of grape vines, large wooden wine casks, historic buildings, or the many tourists enjoying the place.  For me that was the highlight of the workshop.  

Truro Vineyard
I have attached 3 of my paintings.  Each of these was done on site, standing at an easel totally under outdoor conditions which usually were sun, wind and the occasional shower.  Each had to be finished in 2 to 3 hours.  It was a learning experience and I learned a lot.  I met new friends and watched what I consider a master at work, Jennifer.  

Abandoned Boat House, Cape Cod

A Wellfleet House From Across the Marsh

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